Tuesday, May 5, 2009

An update with Grackles

There are computer programs on the Net where you can see how you look when you're eighty or ninety. I don't need those. The last week, I've grown pretty old.

I've had a pain in my gut and nobody can figure out what it is. It keeps me up a little at night, along with the usual worrying crap. I need to be in the best shape to go into the Stem Cell process because it basically breaks your body down completely. Even a cold is a big deal. This isn't the best shape. 

If you've been following this blog, you may know that the last chemo has gotten me into a partial remission. The cancer has gone down quite a bit. Francine is definitely dead. Carlo isn't. Since then I've learned that the cancer needs to be completely gone for me to have a really good chance of kicking this. The odds go from fifty-fifty to more like thirty-seventy. 

So I've been trying to debate whether I should have another dose of chemo to get it down. It's not as easy as just getting poisoned. The problem is if I get another dose, there's no guarantee it'll go down. The cancer could do the opposite and start to grow again. Then I'm in a world of crap.
My doctor has advised me to go ahead with the Stem Cell Transplant. He thinks I've responded well and doesn't see the point in risking it. Just to be sure, the doctor now wants to do some radiation treatment after the transplant. But he keeps telling me, "We've got to think positively. We've got to think positively." He's saying this way too much. Like, ya know, as if he were an Indian scout and I was Custer riding a trail to Little Big Horn River. As with seemingly everything these days, there are problems with radiation. 

I met with the radiologist today and boy did she have a few things to say about me. She considers me a "very difficult case". You see, when most lymph node cancers grow back, it's usually the same lymph node or one or two neighbors. With me, it's been my whole left side. It's grown all over the place like weeds. So what is she to do? Zap my whole side? If that's the case, then I got a whole list of side effects to live with and at this point, that's fine. But there's the realistic chance that this is just a futile effort. I'm sicker than most. It just won't stop growing and who knows where next. She's bringing my case up to the board of radiologists for them to discuss because she just isn't quite sure what to do. And when someone here doesn't know what to do, well, it's really "difficult". This is sort of like when Greg Reifel went to his Entrepenuer meetings to talk about Tom, Dick & Harry. Usually he came back with all this advice and then we'd completely ignore it.

Tomorrow I have an operation to take out the needle that's in the side of my right arm and replace it with a needle that goes into my chest and down into a vein that sits on top of my heart. Thursday I get chemo and start the process of Stem Cell Harvesting. Now, the smarter ones out there will say that this chemo could put you over the top and into complete remission. Possibly. But it's different chemo. It's ICE without the C. So it's IE. That didn't work on me too well. The point of this chemo is to create a bunch of stem cells and not to get me into remission. Plus, with my gut the way it is, it could be messy. I puked and puked on this stuff last time with a stomach that worked. It's nasty. 

On top of all this, I miss my wife and kids. More importantly, they miss me and it kills me that they miss me. Well, at least my kids do. I think my wife is shacking up with Pedro. She digs the Speedo look. Good for her. Conner is having one of his best years at baseball. I guess every game he makes a spectacular ESPN catch at shortstop. His teammates call him Superman. I dreamt all my life that I would watch my son play baseball as a kid like my dad did but instead I'm stuck in Houston watching Real Housewives of New York.

I wish I had happier news or was funnier. I will say that we play much better basketball down here as the Rockets are still around and the Bulls aren't. Also, and Dunbar will love this, I've gotten into bird watching. That's right. I may not be in complete remission but I am now a complete geek. They have these cool birds down here, real attitude scavenger types, and I downloaded the Bird Ap on my iPhone to see about them and any other avian friends. I found out that they're Boat Tailed Grackles, indigenous only to the coastal Gulf of Mexico region. Here's a picture of one. He's a little hard to see but trust me, he's there. He's taking a bath. Bob Volkman will be having nightmares of this. 

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