Posts by autojim

Engineer for hire (https://jcriderconsulting.com). Car Guy. Waver of flags at race cars. Pretend race car driver. Nerd. Sea Monkey.

Liver biopsy & adventures in poop

This one’s poop-intensive.

Okay, so let’s get the good stuff out of the way first: the whole liver biopsy thing went off without a hitch. Got there in plenty of time, got prepped, the nurses and tech had to push my dad down to the waiting area instead of hanging around the procedure room, they used ultrasound, and they got the samples they needed without trouble.

The humorous bit: they wanted me to roll onto my right side to put pressure on the punctures to stop the bleeding faster, but because of the abdominal stuff, I can’t do that. So I didn’t. And it wasn’t an issue – I bled so little the biopsy doctor put me on the 4 hour recovery plan instead of the standard 6 hour.

Which mean 4 hours of “bed rest”. About 3 hours in, I asked for bathroom privileges to be added and because I hadn’t bled any more, they were. Yay.

And thus I was cut loose a little after 1 pm to head home.

And while we’re driving down the Westpark Toll Road toward home, some combination of vehicle vibrations and whatever it is that section of my bowel decides to do at any given moment led to WE ARE GOING TO EVACUATE YOU NOW…. the colostomy bag filled rapidly, and then it blew the adhesive seal between the bag and my skin.

Emergency paper towels deployed and I somehow managed to keep it contained to me and my clothing (and not Dad’s rental car).

We got home, got inside, and managed to not make too much of a mess getting everything cleaned and sorted. I did need a quick shower, but that was okay.

There was so much poop. To be honest, it felt good having it gone, but I kinda wish it’d waited until I’d gotten home (I was planning a bag empty as first thing anyway, as a few wombat pellets had accumulated while I was in the recovery room, but it was nowhere near capacity). If this had started while I had the bag open over the toilet? This wouldn’t be a story.

Here’s the thing: I have no conscious control over what that part of my bowel does. Unlike your sphincters, which you can control, the descending colon is part of the autonomous nervous system and it’s just gonna do what it’s gonna do when it’s gonna do it.

So this was just some spectacularly bad timing. And until I can sort out patterns and such, it’s the kind of thing that’s going to limit my travel.

Meanwhile, Houston is iced up and the schools are closed and no one with a lick of sense is venturing forth anyway, so we’re just tucked in here at home and all is as it should be. Provided the power stays on. It’s in the upper 20s and falling.

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The rest of the world keeps moving even if I don’t

Nothing quite like an email reminder that 4th quarter estimated tax payment is due Tuesday to jolt you back into the stark realization that the rest of the world continues at its own pace even as I sit here somewhat disconnectedly trying to get healed up enough to start chemo.

I did a very simplified version of tax math and submitted the payment to the IRS this afternoon, so while “Ouch” is still a good descriptor, at least it’s handled for now. I’d started off the 4th quarter so well, and then BAM! medical situation hit.

Otherwise, no real news here in Criderworldland. Just doing our thing. I hurt, I try to hurt less. Things are healing, though I’d like it if they’d heal faster (they won’t).

Tomorrow is stupid-early drive to St. Luke’s for liver biopsy. That’s pretty much the highlight of the week.

A routine day of recovery

Yep. Pretty normal. I rested. Got some piddly walks around the house. Helped Dad with sorting out the weirdness that is a set of Sleep Number Bed sheets. Paid utility bills. Renewed the tags for the Cobra and Leviathan.

And I ate a cheeseburger for dinner.

Nothing fancy, but a Freddy’s single with cheese and mustard and pickles and it was glorious.

A step toward normalcy.

Tomorrow, Dad’s going down to Alvin to see his old buddy Caskey. He’s looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to it for him. He’s been on self-imposed duty essentially 24-7 since he got here December 19th and he really really really deserves far more of a break than he’ll get tomorrow, but at least he’s taking it.

He’s committed to being here at least through my first couple of chemo treatments. I’m not sure he’s terribly thrilled with my lifestyle choices (particularly my TV viewing habits of car build shows, live car auctions, and science shows vs. ball sports, Big Bang, NCIS, and Blue Bloods), but he did sit through “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across The Eighth Dimension” with me the other day, and laughed along, so there’s that.

We don’t have to be mean… because, remember, no matter where you go, there you are.

The open wound is much smaller now, showing good healing progress (yay!), and I’m starting to get more normal-for-me appetites back (witness cheeseburger), which is also yay, but I’m still being cautious as my gut fauna recovers from essentially 3 weeks of antibiotic shock treatment and also as my body adjusts to the new plumbing arrangements.

My abdomen is still kinda distended and tight, and I can’t really tell if that’s leftover distension from all the poop that had built up (and has since been discharged), fluid retention (maybe a little), the way things are rearranged to place the colostomy left of and roughly even with my navel, the tumors, or some combination of the above. I’ve decided it really doesn’t matter as I have no real control over it anyway.

The fascia muscles still hurt, but it’s increasingly concentrated on the primary incision point, which is good, I think. The most painful act is going from laying on the bed (on my back) to sitting with my legs on the floor, and the reverse operation, but it doesn’t last long, thankfully. It’s the required twisting that does it. It’ll get better. It’s already better than it was.

I’m somewhere between resigned and eager to get on with what’s next (liver biopsy) and what comes after that (start of chemo). I sometimes have to remind myself that the point is to kill this fucking alien thing, and it can’t happen overnight.

But it’s gonna die in a steady hail of Folfox. Good luck reproducing with your cancerous DNA blocked, motherfucker.

Exciting times

Ok, the title is a bit misleading. Today’s “excitement” was ordering colostomy supplies.

And discovering that I need to be at St. Luke’s for the liver biopsy at 6am on Monday instead of 7am. Oh, well, at least we’ll miss most of the traffic.

Tomorrow? Paying bills!

Rest & recovery

Not a lot to report today. With the help of Cliff at Cliff’s CarTech, got the truck & Cobra inspected so I can renew the tags.

Otherwise, just rested. I did get good sleep last night, with the pain dulled and, ok, maybe a little narcotic assistance along for the ride.

Short: doctors’ visits

Surgeon removed rest of staples, added some steri-strips, pronounced wound healing progress acceptable. Recommended 2 weeks for chemo start.

Oncologist answered our questions, described the process, and scheduled me for first Folfox infusion in 2 weeks.

Still have liver biopsy on Monday.

Good news: back on good pain meds. Made a HUGE difference today compared to this morning.

About sleep

I’d like some, uninterrupted, please.

So I’m in a situation where my abdominal muscles, while slowly gaining back some strength and stamina, are pretty much hors d’combat right now. I can do some things, but there’s a big price in pain.

Getting into/out of bed is one of those things where I’ve developed a little bit of a system, but it still puts stress on the abs. (And yes, I looked into those grab handle thingies. They don’t work with air mattresses like our Sleep Number.)

But the biggest challenge is getting my brain to just STOP. Take last night, for instance. In bed maybe 10:30pm, got maybe 1:45 of sleep, then awake for bathroom break, and then something about needing to pay for something in Polish Zlotys and how that was going to be tricky and oh, this hurts, and oh, that hurts, too, and oh, need to go to the bathroom again, and oh, I wonder if I should empty my bag while I’m in there, and… if I got more than a half-hour contiguous actual sleep after that, I’d be surprised.

Right now, the main sources of hurt are the incision site where it’s open and packed, the left side where my guts were rearranged and sewn to my fascia to make my colostomy, and a little section on the right side that managed to alarm me about maybe being appendicitis except that the pain exists entirely in the upper layer of fascia and only when I bend it.

To the surgeon tomorrow, for more staple removal and maybe a plan adjustment on the open part, plus an appointment with the oncologist to try to establish our plan once I’m healed enough.

I may be able to start taking the good pain med again tomorrow – ran the course of the antibiotics that had a bad interaction with said pain med.

But man, I wish I could get my brain to stop and let me sleep. It needs it, too. I mean, Zlotys? Really?