So, where was I?

When we last left our hero cautionary tale, I’d had chemo #10 deferred due to low platelets. I got an Nplate shot that Thursday, and when I went in on Tuesday for chemo #10 Take 2, the platelet count had rebounded nicely and I got chemo #10 without any problems. Tuesday-Thursday that week. Side effects weren’t terrible, and I got another Nplate shot along with the Neulasta-equivalent on Thursday.

And then I fooled almost everyone.

On Saturday that week, Kim and I drove down to Austin, or more correctly Elroy and the Circuit of the Americas located therein, and thanks to the good graces of Race Chairman (Volunteer Staffing) Bill Armitage and (not sure of his title, but he’s in charge of the ACCUS, the sanctioning body and FIA representative) Tim Mayer, I was credentialed as an Assistant Flag Chief with tower and race control access. So I got to spend the day around RC, and made it back out to the worker tent at the end of the day to surprise some of my flagging friends who were not expecting me to be there. Kim, meanwhile, got a guest pass for admission and was able to meet up with Marcus & Jen Merideth, who were down from Michigan for the weekend to represent the SCCA Board of Directors (Marcus is the Area 4 member) for the F3 and F4 races, which are sanctioned by SCCA Pro Racing, and also her friend Kevin Ballard and his dad. So we both got to do something we really loved doing, and according to Bill, as far as he’s concerned, my 100% record for F1 at COTA is intact. I’ll just take his word for it, ’cause I don’t feel like I actually did anything but be a bit of a mascot, but hey, I’ll be back at it next time.

There were a handful of people besides Bill who knew I was coming, but they were sworn to secrecy. Everything is always a game-time decision right now, so I didn’t want to get a lot of hopes up in the event I couldn’t make it. The chemo schedule shift really threw a wrench into my plans, but my body seems to have understood my desire to make this thing happen and the side effects stayed minimal enough to make it happen. I paid for it on Sunday and even into Monday, but that’s okay.

It was just really good to get out and do a thing we love doing, take a little road trip (learned that I’m still not up for bigger trips, and I did pay for my efforts, but so totally worth it), see some race cars and, more importantly, race people, and that’s as good as I can hope for right now.

I’m always trying to push myself a little harder, a little farther, as I get better. The strength and stamina I lost when this all started is going to take a while to get back, but it won’t if I don’t push it.

And then I went to work for the week. That was normal. Normal is good.

And then chemo #11 happened this past week, as (re)scheduled. Platelets well into the butter zone, but still with the Nplate because we just want to be sure.

And yesterday, Kim and I went to Erin & Dani’s Halloween party — Kim managed the stairs, which if you don’t know, is a Big Deal and comes with a bit of a cost, but she was very motivated. And we got to see Chet & Erin (not the same Erin, but an equally awesome Erin) and Zack and Christine (I finally got to meet Christine in person). Turns out that Christine’s 2nd cousin is one of our dear Nerd Boat friends, Christina Diddle. The world is a weird place, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’ve also spent a bit of time urging my friends and family to vote for people who won’t kill us. This cycle, that means basically zero candidates from the GOP. Anyone who’s voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or acted in their capacity to hobble its implementation, or is running on the promise of doing any of those things, basically wants me dead. Or bankrupt first, if I try to stay alive, and then dead when I run out of money.

And that goes for anyone who’s ever had, or has a blood relative who has/had, anything an insurance company considers a preexisting condition. I’m not just talking cancer or diabetes here. High cholesterol? Yep. Asthma? Yep. Sleep apnea? Yep. Torn meniscus? Yep. And you don’t even have to have one of those things yourself. If your uncle has diabetes, or your mother died of cancer (both of which are true in my case), into the high-risk pool for you, even though you yourself are perfectly healthy.

As it happens this election cycle, the people who have been working to gut/repeal the ACA are also complicit in a whole host of other reprehensible things (racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, wealthism, white nationalism, the embrace of brutal dictators while simultaneously angering and alienating our long-time allies, economic policies that only benefit the mega-wealthy, etc., etc., ad nauseum), so it’s not like there are a lot of redeeming qualities to counter all the awful stuff.

No, there aren’t perfect candidates on the other side. There never will be. The perfect candidate is a unicorn: a mythical beast. But at least there’s a group of people looking to work for all of us, not just the moneyed donor class.

I’d hope that you, who have chosen to read this, would rather I didn’t die that way, and have/will vote accordingly. We’ll still have a reprehensible excuse for a human being in the White House, but maybe we’ll have a Congress that does its job as a co-equal branch of government instead of catering to his ever-changing whims in exchange for his willingness to rubber-stamp their bad ideas.

So back to work this week. Chemo #12, which is the last planned Big Honkin’ Chemo, will be the week after. I plan to ring the shit out of that bell when I get disconnected, and the Kelsey-Seybold Cancer Center infusion clinic will be treated to some rollicking Frank Turner music for the occasion.

Kim and I have plane tickets for Thanksgiving in Tulsa. We normally drive, but neither one of us is up for the road trip this year.

And the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, I have appointments with the surgeon, the oncologist, and for a CT scan to show just how dead this shit is.

If the scan shows what we expect to see, it’ll be time to set up surgery to finally get rid of the naughty bit of my colon, now much more dead, complete the resection, reverse the colostomy, and THEN I can get into Reclaim The Rest Of My Life Mode.

It’s gonna take some work, of course, and it’ll be a haul, plus I’ll be on maintenance chemo and subject to frequent scans and colonoscopies and the like going forward, but the medical team is optimistic that I’ll get to the point where I’ll eventually, one day in the distant future, die from something completely unrelated to this colon cancer.

I can deal with that.

Life is, of course, full of surprises. Some of them are good, some of them are, well, pretty damn shitty. So there’s a chance things will go weird again. But we’ll deal with that as it comes. I’m much better equipped now than I was when this all started, for all my brave words to myself that I’d been expecting something like this to happen for most of my life and I was ready for it. I wasn’t.

I wasn’t prepared to be knocked lower than I’d ever been in my life. I wasn’t prepared to not bounce back relatively quickly, as I almost always have from illness and injury. I wasn’t prepared to stare my own death in the face, and as I’ve talked about before, I had a few times when getting my affairs in order and checking out seemed like the best option. I’m glad I didn’t follow that line of thinking to its inevitable conclusion, but I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge it was there.

This is the part where I remind you that I’ve done “couch time” with psychiatrists and psychologists on several occasions during my life, and I wouldn’t hesitate to go back to the couch again if I felt I needed it. Me being me, though, I tend to not only sort out my shit when I’m on the couch, but also learn the process as it works for me, and thus can self-treat fairly well. That said, I’m also the guy who says “if you don’t know, find a pro that does know” on a variety of subjects, and thus I will go back to the couch whenever I think I’m getting out of my depth. Everyone is different, your mileage may vary, and all that — and if you have a condition where your brain chemicals (something that you have no control over, so it’s emphatically not your fault) are the cause of the problems, you absolutely owe it to yourself to get to a psychiatrist who can properly diagnose you and prescribe the medications that will, with a bit of trial and error and adjustment, get those brain chemicals back in line. You, my friends, deserve that balance in your lives, and I hope you can find it.

I’m in a MUCH better place now. As bad as the effects of chemo are (remember, you’re getting poison injected into you with the general idea being it’s going to kill the bad stuff before it kills the rest of you), as much strength and stamina as I’ve lost, I’ve been able to get some of it back, been able to keep working enough to feel that I’m contributing and earning my keep, been able to reclaim more and more of my life “before cancer”, and that’s been a big help.

And what’s been an even bigger help has been all the family and friends who have stepped up. Just knowing all of your are pulling for me is the biggest boost I could ever hope for. I know there’s a lot of you still chomping at the bit to do something tangible, and opportunities to do so have been a little thin as we’re some of those wacky largely-self-sufficient types. You’re just gonna have to trust me that knowing I have all this backup, even if I don’t end up needing to invoke it, is a very tangible thing, and it’s the best feeling anyone could ever hope for.

And onward we go.

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Stupid Spleen

Haven’t written in a while, which is my fault, I suppose, since this is my blog.

What’s been going on?

Well, I was supposed to get chemo #10 this week, but my platelets were low, so the oncologist decided to punt and wrote a scrip for Nplate, which is an injection designed to boost platelet production. Had to get insurance approval, which means it’s probably really expensive, and got the shot on Thursday.

Chemo has been rescheduled for this coming Tuesday, with the remaining two infusions also pushed back a week.

I am so pissed off at my asshole of a spleen right now. All the other organs got the memo that we’re trying to get through this shit on schedule — hell, even my hemoglobin (the problem I had during the spring set of infusions) is back into normal range — but apparently my spleen decided to opt out.

Stupid spleen.

Of course, we don’t discover this until we’re at the infusion center, my port has been accessed and purged, and then we have to unhook it and go home when the bloodwork comes back and the oncologist is consulted and the punt is decided.

On the plus side, I had no adverse reaction to the Nplate and that’s good as I’ll be getting it along with the “bio-equivalent to” Neulasta on disconnect day for the rest of the cycle. Now the big question will be whether I get doubled-up on the copay (I’m already paying for the Neulasta-like thing… so if I get the Nplate at the same time, is it the same appointment or is it a scrip, or??? I won’t know until it happens).

And I’m doing another 10-day set of the antibiotics. The area where Hellmouth 2 was (directly above the stoma) started to feel tight and sore again, an indication that my ongoing fun with fistulas (and the cancerous part of my sigmoid colon being slightly leaky) is still there. The surgeon (who’s managing that part of my care) and I had discussed this possibility and we’re executing the plan. I’d like to avoid having Hellmouth 2 reopen as it messes up with how I have to attach and seal the colostomy bag. So antibiotics to head that off at the pass.

On a more practical matter, pushing the chemos a week screwed up a lot of my schedule, which I’d planned around when I was going to be on the needle. So numerous rearrangements had to happen. Grrrr.

Stupid spleen.

And, worse, this pushes the “it’s been a month since your last chemo so we think you’re not too toxic to operate on” date back a week, which puts it dangerously close to the Christmas holidays, which means I probably don’t want to have said surgery until after the first of the year.

How do I know this? Because I had the first surgery on December 20th, and then my surgeon went on holiday and while the nursing staff was aces, not having my surgeon available to answer questions once I was coherent enough to ask them sucked, as his sub didn’t operate on me and had no info to give.

I don’t want to have the C Team again.

Further complicating that is insurance. Just got my info sheet with the changes for 2019 on my individual-market plan: premium goes up about $108/month (from $802 to $910), and the per-day copays for hospital stays go up non-trivially go up from $400/day to $600/day. CT/PET/MRI copays go from $300 to $500.

So I have a financial incentive to get it done this year… because changing insurance plans means having to change doctors as my current insurance is only good for Kelsey-Seybold and Kelsey-Seybold is out-of-network for every other individual-market insurance plan available in Texas.

Ah, but there’s some additional complications on the insurance front that I can’t really get into yet — rest assured they’re good complications — that I’m working on in the background with some assistance. When I have it sorted, I’ll explain, but right now I have reasons to keep it under wraps.

There’s a lot of open questions and balls in the air right now — one option will be a total easy button, but of course I have to plan on that not happening and have alternatives in place. A lot of it depends on timing. Any more delays will throw yet  more chaos into the mix, so that’s one reason I pushed to get the Nplate shot this week so my platelet numbers have a chance to rebound before next Tuesday’s infusion.

Outside of all that, I worked the rest of the week and will work on Monday, and that’s going well. Doing what I can to get hours in and contribute to the company that’s stood by me when they didn’t have to. Still trying to wrap my head around how they operate, as it’s so far out of my experience in the previous 28 years of my career, but that’s a good problem to have.

This weekend, I’ll be running the Texas Chairs for an assortment of flaggers from other parts of the country (and the world) up to Jim R’s place in The Woodlands as he’ll be heading to COTA on Thursday for the F1 weekend. Yes, I am the custodian for a bunch of chairs that my friends have bought for their use when they come to COTA for F1 and other big races. Just because I’m not working the event this year doesn’t mean the chairs get the year off. A fair number of those folks are in Georgia working the Petit Le Mans this weekend and will likely be coming from there to Austin.

In general, I’m doing okay. I’m mad at my spleen, obviously, and the schedule mess the spleen caused, but I’m doing okay. So far, the stoma and bag situation has stabilized as I’ve figured out better means of trimming the input hole in the bags and installation methods. I’m back to showering pretty much daily (except when I’m on the chemo pump – it’s not compatible with showering), which helps me feel human. And yes, I’d kinda gotten out of the habit after surgery. It was just too much at the time. So that’s more of my life reclaimed. The chemo side effects have been manageable, I’ve not yet gotten the big chemo brain problems, the PN is just kinda there (the antibiotics are making it a bit worse, but I knew that. It’s temporary and it’s better than having the Hellmouths re-open), and I’m about as functional on off-weeks as I was before restarting the chemo at the end of August. On-weeks, well, I’m partially useless for a day or two. But that’s far better than I was in the spring, and I’ll take the wins when I get them.

Stupid spleen.

Side Effects

So this isn’t about the direct side effects of the chemo, which are a known thing. This is about some of the other side effects all this has been having on my life.

There’s the big things: I’m not able to work full-time. I’m working as much as I can, and before I restarted chemo, I was building back up toward full-time, but getting back on the needle put paid to that for the time being. My client is still being amazingly accommodating of my situation and treating me as a valued part of their family (small companies are better for this than larger ones).

Related to that, the lack of stamina is frustrating. I’ve had to pace myself far more than I’m used to in order to avoid getting wiped out — if I push myself too much, I could lose entire days recovering. This, too, was getting better, but then chemo again, so not quite back to where I was the first time, but still being cautious. On the plus side, I’ve developed considerably more understanding of what Kim goes through with her psoriatic arthritis and MS combo. This is her life. And at least for now, maybe longer, it’s mine as well.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m looking at these things as goals to get back to, not things I’m going to be stuck with permanently.  But for now, they’re side effects.

There’s seemingly little things, too (they’re not really little, though): Callay is a bit of a daddy’s girl, and loves to climb all over me. This is a problem as she could easily dislodge the poo bag with her pointy little Westie feets, and she’s never quite content to just lay still on my lap or next to me — that’s McTavish the lap-lump. And days like today, when I’ve got the chemo pump attached and thus my right side is also occupied with gear that a little dog could dislodge – this with more toxic effects than just some poop – means I can’t really do much with her. And of course, on chemo, I smell weird and thus she’s very concerned about me and wants to be next to me a lot. She stayed up with me last night rather than retreat to the bedroom with Kim as usual – something I’ve noticed she’s done on the other chemo pump nights, too. I give her all the love I can, but she’s still, about 10 months into this thing, still kinda confused and hurt as to why dad won’t let her crawl all over him like he used to. Soon, little puppy. Soon(TM).

Bigger than Callay’s situation is Kim. We’re huggers (in Kim’s case, at least she is with me. She’s a highly selective hugger. This is okay, just how she’s wired), and with the poo bag, and with the chemo pump, I’m not really very huggable. I love her to pieces, and I miss being able to do that simple little act of affection more than anything. I’m seeing an end to this situation now, and that’s good, but it also kinda makes me miss it all that much more. On top of that, I’m kinda toxic, literally, when I’m on chemo, and her immune system is really angry with her, so that’s an additional danger I’d rather avoid (the cancer center provided us a spill kit — not to protect *me*, because they’re injecting this stuff into me on purpose, but to protect anyone else who has to clean up in the event of, say, the dog ripping the tubing loose. I’ve managed to avoid that so far (knocks on the thick wooden melon on top of my neck), but until I’m done with it, it’s something to be aware of.

We’re both broken a little bit, in different ways, but we work well together, and I don’t know that I could have made it through this as well as I have so far without her. She’s a big reason I’ve been able to get through those trips to the dark place and why I haven’t been back there in what seems like a long time now.

Again, Soon(TM). They’ve scheduled the last 3 infusions. We’ll get the surgery scheduled. There’s a path to the end of this tunnel. I see the exit – there’s sky, and clouds, and ground, and rails, and it’s not a train honking its horn at us.

It’s going to get better. The side effects won’t last.

Weekend Week-end Report

Pretty normal week around here with a couple of exceptions. I worked all 5 days this week, which is good, wrapping up the thing I was working on and getting the drawings into the boss for checking. I’ll start something different when I go back, likely week after next.

Tuesday included an appointment with my surgeon, who had indeed looked at last month’s CT scan imagery and was very pleased with what he saw — so much so that my next planned appointment with him is at the end of November, where we’ll likely be scheduling the surgery to remove the remains of the naughty bit of colon, whatever other small dead things (read: lymph nodes) he finds in the vicinity, do the resection, and reverse the colostomy. There’s a POSSIBILITY that, if things are inflamed inside, that he’ll need to do a temporary (his word) ileostomy to give the sewn-together bits of bowel a chance to heal up without leakage. My task is therefore clear before me: do whatever it takes to make sure there’s minimal inflammation (none being the best answer). My best guess on when that will occur is in the first half of December.

Yes, as always, this is all written on a whiteboard, ’cause it’s always subject to change depending on how things go between now and then. I’ve got 4 more FOLFOX infusions to go, starting with this coming Monday for round #9. But I’m starting to plan ahead a little bit now, and that’s a good thing.

Dad arrived on Wednesday. So far, we’re keeping him Not Busy, aside from making some mashed potatoes for Thursday’s dinner. That’ll change a little on Monday as he’s my ride to/from the infusion center now, allowing Kim to keep the rest of her sick days for her own use.

So, yeah, a pretty normal, low-key week, with some nice “plan for the future” things going on.

Up next, as mentioned, is infusion #9, and I’ll spin the Wheel O’ Side Effects again. Oh, and I have to take an amusing Prednisone/Benadryl combo at 12 hours, 6 hours, and 1 hour prior, because now that I’ve had a reaction to the Oxaliplatin once, I’m very likely to have it again. And we don’t want that, now, do we?

I’ll take “Things Going Okay” for $1000, Alex.

This is going to be one of those bullet-point posts, so you know, and if you’re using screen-reader software, it’ll say whatever it says for bullet points.

  • Wednesday disconnect went fine. No one fell down in the parking lot, either.

 

  • The plumber came in the afternoon, discovered the disposal’s cam-lock flange to the bottom of the sink wasn’t ever really tightened properly, spent a few seconds fixing that, verified no more leak, and was gone. Need to work with landlord on replacing bottom floor of cabinet, but at least it’s not leaking.

 

  • Went to a very nice newish Indian restaurant for Kim’s birthday dinner.

 

  • Unrelated to the Indian restaurant, this particular colostomy bag is a good little soldier and managed to stay attached last night as I started pooping for the first time in a couple days while I was filling the truck up with diesel on the way home. Yes, it feels as weird as it sounds like it should feel. There was a LOT of poop. And thus I made a direct line to the bathroom when we got home and emptied it and rinsed it out and it’s still hanging in there nicely. That’ll do, bag. That’ll do.

 

  • I’ve got the “feels like a sinus headache but isn’t” chemo head again this week. Right now, it’s a little worse than it was earlier in the day, but it’s not as intense as two weeks ago. I spent most of the day not really doing anything that would take much energy in the hope of moderating the effects a bit (higher low, lower high). We shall see how tomorrow shakes out, but I’m honestly pleasantly surprised that it’s not worse.

 

  • I’m probably done with iced things again until I’m done with the chemo. Starting to get that little twinge at the back of the mouth, but not the ZAPZAPZAP of the last time, so I’ll take that as a good sign and not push my luck.

 

  • Long-time readers may recall that we had to cancel our trip to the JoCo Cruise earlier this year due to my situation. I had this leftover credit with Southwest Airlines that I needed to use by November 18th (when I booked the flights for JCC). We used the credit in Kim’s name earlier this summer for her trip to SLC for Andy’s funeral services, but mine was still there, needing to be used before it expired. Well, that’s not gonna happen for a variety of reasons, so I figured what the heck, call them and see if I could maybe get about 8 days of grace period extension so we could use them to get to Tulsa and back for Thanksgiving (the week after the dollars would expire). The first nice person I talked to said she couldn’t extend them until after they expired, which would have left me with about 2 days to book travel on the busy weekend of the year… so she gave me not only another number to call, but told me specifically which menu option to choose so as to get to the right people.

    And so I did. And I told my tale of woe again (but in a cheerful voice), that we’d canceled because I had to have fairly major surgery and then chemo for colon cancer, but I’ll be finishing chemo and our family’s big gathering is Thanksgiving, and it’ll be my grand reappearance. The nice lady on the other end of the phone said she’d need to check something, put me on a short hold, and came back and told me they’d refund me the full amount of the credit… which they absolutely did not have to do, I hasten to point out. So I thanked her and told her I was booking our flights as soon as I got off the phone with her. Which I did. We shall not speak of how I borked the return date and had to change it from December to November, which unsurprisingly cost a bit more money, but that’s still okay.
    So we’re flying to/from Tulsa instead of doing the drive as usual this year. More money, but less time. And less net money than it could have been, thanks to Southwest’s being nice.

 

  • Got word from a dear friend and former colleague at Oceaneering that he’s taking a transfer back to Houston from the wilds of Huntsville, Alabama, next month, and I’m really happy that he and his family will be local again. Having good people back local is the kind of good news I like to get on an infusion week.

 

  • On a somber note, our good friend (and my occasional partner in crime) Glenn’s father passed away this morning from a version of the same kind of cancer I have. I never got to meet Glenn’s dad, but I know Glenn and given his very high quality as a human being, I’m sure I’d have liked his dad as well. If you would, spare a thought for Glenn and his family.

Tuesday: A nearly full accounting

It’s been almost 2 weeks since my last post. Made it through the rest of chemo #7, I’m currently hooked to chemo #8, which comes off tomorrow. The week between was pretty normal as far as those go, and I’m happy for that.

So yesterday, we go in for #8, and I’m not in the infusion center, but in the IV center, which isn’t as nice of a place. Same staff, but the no working windows (they’re blocked off on the outside because of some construction). And chairs that have the recline control on a handle standing off about a foot from the back of the chair so the person in the chair can’t operate it.

No big, get set up, get the steroid, get the anti-nausea drug, get the FOL and the OX hooked up… and have a reaction. Very flush, back of my mouth/throat gets a little tight, but not constricted. Kim summons nurse before I can. Push stopped, swap to saline, inject hydrocortisone, monitor… and things calm down before needing the Benadryl injection. Resume push, finish, no more problems.

Last night uneventful.

Get up this morning, and have to retrieve something from under the kitchen sink, which is when I notice that we’ve got a leak and the cabinet floor has gotten soaked and sunk and there’s now a puddle. Call landlord, who starts summoning the plumber. Of course, we have to leave for an oncology consult before that’s sorted, so we didn’t get the plumber today. And with the pump attached, I can’t get into the cabinet very well without endangering the pump or tubing, so when Kim came home to take me to the doctor, she got to empty the cabinet out (in case landlord and plumber arrived while we were gone).

Plumber is coming in the morning.

And so we went to the oncologist. Reviewed the CT results, and most everything looks the same or smaller than it was in April, even though I’d not had any chemo for about 4 months. The exceptions are a couple of lymph nodes that are maybe a little bigger. So that’s good.

At the doc’s direction, I’m going to restart the blood pressure meds, but keep an eye on it, as it seems I’ve recovered enough from my surgery and the first 6 rounds of chemo that my body decided a couple weeks ago to go back to being slightly hypertensive. Whee.

And because of the reaction I had yesterday, he prescribed Prednisone for me to take ahead of the remaining infusions, to be combined with Benadryl. Because apparently, once you get this reaction to the Oxaliplatin once, it’s likely to happen again. So, Fran, yeah, me, too, now. Whee. Again.

And… we discussed the post-infusion-12-and-surgery plan. I said I fully expected more chemo after, because Stage IV and we want to make sure we get everything, but the doc indicated we’re more likely to go to a maintenance chemo (FOLF, minus the OX, or an oral chemo pill whose name escapes me. The oral form is easier from a “don’t have to go get hooked up to a pump every two weeks” standpoint, but apparently has a bit harder peripheral neuropathy hit, which can be countered with other drugs, which… you get the idea. But in general, the concern is that they don’t want to leave anything behind that may be too small to image (all imaging systems available have resolution limitations), only to grow again down the road. So I’d be on this for a while, and maybe over time, we’re able to increase the interval between doses, and maybe if I’m really lucky, I’m able to be one of the ones in which it doesn’t seem to come back at all, and some years down the road, I can be declared “cancer-free”.

Well, shit.

Here I was thinking that once it was dead, it’s dead, at least this form of colon cancer. That was the impression I’d gotten from previous conversations. But now that we’re getting closer to that end game, comes to find out it’s not an end game so much as an ongoing campaign. I guess I can hope I’ll be able to level-up (get to less-frequent doses) with time, and eventually get to the end of it.

Now that I’ve had a little bit of time to process that, I’m deciding that this doesn’t affect what I want to do after I’m done with the main course of treatment. I’m going to get back to living as full as I can. Get the strength and stamina built back up. Get back to working full-time and repaying the faith and surprising (to me, not to them) loyalty my employer has offered me. Get back on the bike after a many-year layoff — this will help with strength, stamina, and keeping my mass down. I may not like how I lost the weight, but I can’t say I didn’t need to drop some tonnage, and I owe it to myself to do what I can to get myself into better shape and stay that way. At the very least, it’ll help me fight off what’s left of this stuff, and maybe get rid of it entirely in some sort of provable fashion.

Oh, and as we left, a lady slipped on the wet pavement out in the parking lot and fell and hurt her leg and bonked her head, and I was one of the people who went to help her, chemo pump bag and all, because it’s an automatic response to me. Professionals we summoned, as was a stretcher, and she was taken to the on-site ER to be checked out. Gave one of the nurses a triage assessment as I was holding the lady’s head steady, while a car service driver was talking and talking and talking and no one was listening to him because he was speaking nonsense. Nurse gives me the “you’ve done this before” look, which got “I do response work at race tracks.” Hope the nice lady is going to be okay with just a little ouch and nothing broken.

And so here I am. Tomorrow, plumber. And disconnect. And Neulasta shot. And my 3rd copay of the week. And Kim’s birthday. She managed to sneak in one “old man” reference on today, the last day she can this year.

Poop.

So, looks like I got the chemo poops last night. I emptied the bag 5 times before bed (never letting it get really full, mind you), typically about an hour apart, and then woke up just after 6am to an epic blowout like I haven’t had in quite some time.

And so there’s stuff in the washer on the Steam Sanitize cycle, and I gave a lot of me a washcloth bath (hard to shower with the chemo pump attached), and that was fun.

I’ve also already emptied the new bag once.

So, I hope your morning has been less shitty than mine.