Posts by autojim

Engineer for hire ( Car Guy. Waver of flags at race cars. Pretend race car driver. Nerd. Sea Monkey.

Short catch-up

It’s been a while. That’s mostly deliberate. There’s honestly only so many “Today I sat here while X continued to drain messily into an improvised amalgam of absorbent surgical dressings and waterproof tape and Y’s containment held for another day” stories to tell, and that was a big part of the week for me. Sure, I cancelled a lot of plans and all because of X, but at least Y’s farts are amusing to nearby people.

And today started infusion #5, and I’m tired and my fingers aren’t working well (it took several corrections to get that first paragraph absent of wiggly misspelling lines, mostly transposed letters or extra ones). The PN has reached my nose this time.

So the story of the Many DirecTV Boxes will have to wait for another day. It’s amusing, though it’s not quite over yet (that will hopefully happen Friday afternoon when tech(s) arrive with different, upgraded equipment). But I’ll tell it.

Dad returned yesterday (Sunday) after a week back home, something we all needed. Kim started back to school after spring break last week (her being home with me was great even though most of our days revolved around her doctor appointments and changing my seroma dressing). I got an assignment for some paying work but wasn’t able to get mental traction enough to really get started on it yet, though I have a couple of good ides how I may solve the problem at hand, both of which are of course extremely clever.

And that’s where I am right now.


That was… exciting?

So today was sort of a recovery day. I didn’t feel horrible, but still had limited energy available. Everything was going well until I stood up from the dinner table and started dripping a sort of pink goo everywhere. At first, I thought I’d blown the seal on the colostomy bag, but this wasn’t that.

Seems I had some sort of cyst or abscess on the lower part of the incision that decided to pick right then to rupture and make a hell of a mess of things. And scare the shit out of me.

Retreat to bathroom, strip out of now-wet-with-pink-goo clothes, assess situation, call surgeon’s on-call number, wait for on-call doctor who-is-not-my-surgeon to call back, while of course person at doctor’s office suggests ambulance. Which is called. One of the EMTs had been here for my episode in December. I’m now on phone with doctor explaining situation. He uses some Latin name for the situation I have (so I didn’t remember it… I was busy. EDIT: Thanks to Mary Kernahan, I now know it’s a “seroma”), EMTs discuss situation – note, in an improvement from December, I’m wearing socks and I’m not lying prone on the floor of my bathroom.

General assessment is these things make a hell of a mess when they pop, but then it slows down, so put some gauze and tape over it and monitor, but it doesn’t show signs of infection, so we’re okay, and don’t need to go to the ER, where they would look at it, apply gauze and tape, and send me on my way.

So while we’re waiting for the seepage to drop, THEN my colostomy bag pops a seal. So we had to keep all that separate while we got the cyst/abscess sealed up, and THEN I could change the bag. The bag had been on since Monday night, so I’m not complaining on that.

Things have calmed down a bit. I’m no longer asking to just die so I don’t have to put up with this shit.

How was YOUR Friday night?

Bad Day.

I’ve had chemo everything today. Brain, body, PN in the hands bad enough to need gloves, most of the day cold & bundled, currently flop-sweating in a t-shirt and shorts because I’m too hot. Spent most of the day not really awake.


I went to the office today.

There’s still a lot to catch up on, but this was worth a quick post of its own. I called my manager at the contract gig yesterday, and went in today for a little bit, not to do anything particularly productive, but to show my face, meet with manager, get caught up on some of the things that have happened in the last couple months while I was out, etc.

I’ll start here with yet another expression of gratitude for the good folks at this place. They could’ve easily used the force majeure clause in my contract to cancel it, but that was the furthest from their mind. They want me to get better, and come back and do things for them as I’m able. This makes me happy to do so. You don’t often see that kind of, well, for lack of a better word, loyalty to a contractor who’d only been there a short time before stuff hit the fan.

Lots of folks commenting on the weight loss – though I’m only about 30ish pounds down from when they last saw me, and they didn’t ever see me at Peak Crider Mass. Quite a few surprised I still have my hair (me: “Well, so far…”). Many saying I had good color, whatever that means. Everyone was just glad to see me. I can’t begin to tell you what kind of boost that was – in my short time on the job before the medical issues, I apparently made a good impression.

Most everyone asked how I was doing, and I could honestly answer that while I’ve still got a long slog ahead of me, I’m better. I really am better.

Josh, who I sort of talked the manager into bringing on as an extra experienced hand, has been a total rock star in my absence. I’m not surprised by this – Josh is one of those engineers who you just sort of throw a challenge in front of like Steve Irwin throwing a chicken in front of Aggro the salt-water crocodile, and then just stand back while he goes at it full speed. Basically, doing things the old DTS way. And with the place a bit short-handed on engineers, that’s a Good Thing. Still, makes me happy that someone I recommended has fit into the gig even better than I knew he could do.

And the manager, after catching me up, showed me something he’s been thinking about, and I figured out what he was looking to do before he could really start describing it. Which made us both happy. Plus he’s got a first project for me to get into a bit, and I’ve already got some ideas for making it work in a somewhat alarmingly simple way.

I pushed myself a bit in terms of stamina to do this. But I needed it. I need to get back in the saddle professionally for a variety of reasons. Sure, getting some money coming in will be a huge help, but getting my brain back engaged with productive tasks is a big chunk of reclaiming another part of my life I had to put on hold for a couple months.

I’ll be doing a lot of this from home once I get going, for a variety of reasons including that the stamina expense involved in driving to the office could be better spent doing something productive, and also minimizing the impact to my immune system. But I’ll still go in every so often, to discuss things face-to-face and just be part of the team again. And my stamina will improve.

I needed this today.

And it made Dad happy for his 77th birthday today that I got back on the horse. Plus he had control of the TV remote while I was gone, which is a huge plus for him. I came home to find him watching a Steven Segal movie. At least it was one of the earlier ones (“Hard to Kill”, I believe), and not the later direct-to-video stuff starring a somewhat more bloated Steven Segal.

Dad’s been great, though he did get to generate a new Thanksgiving tale of woe about cooking his own birthday dinner (because he started on it before I could tell him we wanted to take him out for dinner). Whether this replaces or supplements the Thanksgiving Big Mac while in Brazil is yet unknown.

I’ll try to get a proper catch-up post written in the next day or two. About out of wetware computrons for today.


Well, hello, chemo brain.

I was going to write some big update thing on how the week has gone and, frankly, getting these few sentences out is going to finish me off. The chemo brain *magnitude* isn’t as bad as last time, but the duration seems to be longer. Basically, I’m just really tired and kinda foggy and I’m going to go to bed now.

Maybe tomorrow will be better. One can hope.


Look! Bullet points! That counts as an update, right?

  • Had 3rd infusion, which apparently is “Cycle 2, infusion 1” in the language of my medical team. Sitting here with the pump hooked up.
  • Tomorrow is oncologist consult. We’ll talk about what’s next, my ride on the side-effects train, and also why the insurance plan that’s administered by the very medical group system that’s treating me and employs all my doctors has sent me (via the commercial insurance company I actually buy the insurance from, unlike the approvals, which are sent from the medical group to my online account with them) has decided to reject what I think is the 2nd infusion treatment because it wasn’t specifically requested by my doctor, where the first approval was clearly (at least to me) for a 3-infusion series.
  • Also tomorrow is a brief visit to the attorney who is handling various estate paperwork redux for me: new will, durable power of attorney, medical power of attorney, advanced directive. Given that my currently-in-place will is the one my ex-wife and I did and we haven’t been married to each other since 2009, probably time to update things. This is a thing Dad has been pushing pretty hard and took the lead on organizing. Makes him happy, I guess, but to be honest, I think he’s got the attitude of my first wife (She Who Will Not Be Named Lest She Appear) and my 2nd wife, Karen, conflated. Karen and I get on fine, and I trust her to honor my wishes for disposition of things, but this new will sorts that out officially, I guess.
  • One of the humorous things that happened today while I was at the infusion center was a call from down the hall at the oncology office where one of my doc’s PAs wanted to schedule me for a blood draw a half-hour before my appointment tomorrow, a move that would literally require us to leave the house an hour earlier because Houston traffic. I suggested that, maybe, instead, as I was sitting less than 100 feet from her at that moment and was soon to be unhooked from the IV pole in prep for my personal pump, maybe they could do the blood draw from my port like they’d done at the beginning of the day. Struck by a sudden burst of logic, she agreed that would be great, and would check to see if it was possible. It was. They did. Job done. Then they hooked me up to my chemo dribble pump.
  • One of the great things today was the infusion center had 3 “bell ringers” today: patients that had completed their last (we all hope) chemo session. They also get to pick a song to go with it, apparently, so we had Destiny’s Child (Houston connection!) “Surivor”, Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” (“KILL THE WABBIT! KILL THE WABBIT!”), and I didn’t catch enough of the 3rd one to place it. So, looking ahead a little bit, I’m leaning toward Frank Turner’s “Get Better” because it pretty much sums up my stubborn tendency to plant my feet and hold off whatever it is that’s coming at me (opening lyric: “I got me a shovel/And I’m digging a ditch/And I’m gonna fight for that four square feet of land/Like a mean old son-of-a-bitch. I got me a future/I’m not stuck on the past/I’ve got no new tricks, yeah, I’m up on bricks, but me, I’m a machine and I was built to last.”) and the chorus is just uplifting to my mind (“We’re gonna get better ’cause we haven’t been our best/Take a plain black marker, and write this on your chest/Draw a line across all of this unhappiness and say ‘Come on, now, let’s fix this mess’/We can get better, because we’re not dead yet!”). But that’s a ways off yet. Still, good to have goals, yes?
  • Dad’s driving an F150 SuperCrew on loan from one of his oldest friends who lives not terribly far away (Alvin). He’s not driven something that size in some time and spent a lot of the drives today talking about how big and non-maneuverable it was, and I just laughed ’cause compared to my F350, that thing’s a sports car. Nice truck, though, and working SiriusXM, though the first thing he did this morning was turn the radio off. Gonna have to correct that tomorrow and Wednesday. Classic Vinyl, here we come. 😀
  • Speaking of trucks, did I mention I got out in mine last week for the first time since December 19th? Yes, I did! Drove it Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Felt great, even just tooling around my local area a little bit. He also got a new windshield installed on Friday – replacing the 19-year-old, 369,000 mile original that somehow survived up to earlier in 2017 when it took a rock hit on I-10 that turned into an 8″ long crack before I could even stop to look at it. Said crack then turned and headed for the driver’s side A-pillar. It was mostly unsightly, and largely out of my eyeline, but it meant it was time. Considering that the installed price of new Ford (not aftermarket) glass was less than half of my comprehensive insurance deductible, no claim was filed.
  • Dad arrived on Saturday, and Kim and I invited him out to dinner with us. He decided to let us do our own thing, and it turns out it was just as well he didn’t come as our trip to Orleans Seafood on I-10 was noisy and crowded and we wound up sitting at the bar (which has full service, vs the main area, where you wait in line, order, then have to come pick up your food). Saturday night, good weather… yep, crowded. Food was great, though. Oddly enough, Dad wandered areas he was semi-familiar with and wound up at Sam’s Boat up at the Towne Lake area, which is just about as crowded and loud as Orleans is on a Saturday night, spared only by having seating only about half as dense as Orleans does.
  • The side-effects train started in earlier than ever today. Already having peripheral neuropathy issues in the fingers, including some occasional “stuck” fingers that a little overcenter knuckle position, normally no big deal, can’t recover for a beat or two. That’s new.
  • Also, my temperature regulation issues are already showing up. After the infusion center, we got home and I went from the stylish plain gray sweatpants I’d worn there (hey, soft clothing designed for being in public, vs the pajama pants I’d been rocking? This is an improvement! I’m not sitting in that infusion chair for 4-5 hours in jeans) for some cargo shorts – namely an old pair I love that I’d gotten too fat for some years ago, but now are actually slightly loose. They’re comfy. But after the sun went down, and dinner was done, and then the @#$#@@ AC turned on because Houston, I got chilled enough that at my next bathroom break, I switched to the PJs and added a sweatshirt. I’ve since lost the sweatshirt, which was probably overkill and switching to a long-sleeve t-shirt is probably the better answer for when this happens tomorrow (because it will. Now watch me get so chilled that the sweatshirt IS the right answer, dammit).
  • I’m doing some dietary changes this week and going for bland-ish and lacking in grease after the weirdness of 2 weeks ago.
  • All this means the chemo infusion is doing something, right? We’re just not sure what, specifically, it’s doing just yet. I choose to believe it’s working as described on the tin.
  • And I’m tired now. Gonna go to bed here in a bit. After last week’s return of my occasional Insomia Week Follies (which predate the cancer by decades), I’ll take some sleep, thanks. I mean, I’m tired enough I’m watching ice dancing. How these folks move is amazing, I’ll grant that, and I could never do what they do (every time I’ve ever been on ice skates, it’s been hard on my elbows), but it’s just not ever been something I’d watch normally. Let’s say I’m expanding my horizons.
  • Call this one the last bullet. ‘Cause it is.

My No Woo-Woo Policy

I originally posted this the other day on Facebook. It got a lot of responses there, as you’d expect. Since this is the place I’m putting up The Story Of My Journey Through Cancer (which sounds like a Very Special Movie Event Coming To Lifetime TV, Starring Meredith Baxter Birney as Jim Crider), I figured I’d copy-pasta it here as well:

My No Woo-Woo Policy:

I suppose enough time has gone by to restate my “No Woo-Woo” policy:

I know no small few of my friends are into alternative medicines, herbals, vegan diets, essential oils, acupuncture, acupressure, Tibetan Cancer Curing Massage, Ancient Sichuan Woolly Yak Penis Extract Powders, etc.

I know you care about me and my health and want me to beat this cancer. I greatly appreciate that, and I’m glad to have you on my team.

But please, PLEASE, ***PLEASE*** refrain from posting suggestions that I try X thing to “cure my cancer”. Don’t put them on my FB wall. Don’t tweet them at me. Don’t DM me with them. Don’t email me with them. Don’t put them in comments on my blog.

I have a fantastic team of doctors, lead by a very highly qualified oncologist who aggressively stays up on the latest science. I am under his care, following the treatment protocol he has prescribed.

I will not self-medicate with ***ANYTHING*** without running it by him first to check all the possible interactions and if it’s even something worth trying. To do otherwise is to court at best a delay in my treatment and at worst some sort of reaction that puts me back in the hospital or kills me. These are *his* instructions and I’m following them.

Again, I appreciate your concern, but I have way more than enough on my plate without having to field woo-peddling. Takes away energy I could be using doing something productive (like maybe getting back to paid work).

Woo posts will be deleted with prejudice. Repeated woo posts will get a block. I’m sorry. I don’t have the energy for this stuff.