December 2014 Archives

Treatment Feels Worse Than the Disease (Way Worse)

» Next week represents hump week of my seven-week cancer treatment. Next week is week #4. Three down, four to go.

Next week will be "a difficult week," where I get chemo #2 (of 3) and my final (stage 1) clinical trial .. of the genetically-engineered vaccine. More bio-hazards breakfast, baby.

I did consider blowing off #4, cuz my ass is seriously dragging. And it's the day after chemo.

But the nurse who cares for me during these trials is so good that she makes it easier. "Are you going to be here next Tuesday?" I asked.

I've never had anybody who could insert an I-V that you barely felt. We're talking iron in your vein. She has her own proprietary technique where she first warms your arm with a heating pad.

"I hardly felt that at all," I told her. "You so totally rock. I've never seen the heating-pad technique before. And I've been getting stuck a lot lately. You're up there with Anna at the lab. She rocks, too."

"I know Anna," she said. "I hate getting an I-V myself. So, anything I can do to help minimize the pain .. I'm all for that."

» The Zen-like Clinical Trials Yoga Nurse

I am not going to get much into it .. but my Clinical Trials nurse is yoga girl. A meditating yoga girl. She brings a calmness with her. A sense of peace that cancer patients appreciate. Very centered. Unflappable. (She's the one who hit me up with the Demerol two weeks ago.)

You are there for hours .. so you talk. Sure, it is a profesional environment. But, they are there to help save your life. [ Key word » life. ] So it is difficult to keep things from wandering off into personal areas.

We even talked a little religion. A little spirituality, might be a better way to say it.

We had a nice little chat about how difficult it is to actually meditate .. to stop, and quiet the mind. "Uh, first I need to vacuum the living room. Then I need to throw in a load of laundry. And now I really need to pay that stupid electric bill." You never seem to get around to sitting still and quieting the mind. She could relate. We laughed.

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Bio-Hazards for Breakfast

» [ The winter solstice arrives on Sunday the 21st at 3:03 PM Pacific Standard time. ] So many stories to share .. so many cool, gnarly, head-spinning stories. But so little time to share them. What a shame.

I am spending lots of time down at Moores .. meeting with this doctor and that ..

Bio-Hazard.. getting bio-hazards pumped into my veins. You know.

Had my second clinical trial this week. They said that they expected me to have a 'strong reaction'.

Dude, let it never be said that the people at Moores sugar-coat. No, sir. They let you know the shit is coming.

You can batten down the hatches if you like, but you will never say, "They didnt warn me."

So there I was .. reclining on the bed in my private room (which I call a 'cabana').

And they pump the bio-hazard into my veins. (The pretty nurse who does this is wearing a dang haz-mat suit.)

» Plutonium Popsicles

And I am thinking how I am such a tough dude that I eat bio-hazards for breakfast.

And my nurse (pretty with a great smile) says » "You might start to feel cold and feel like you cant get warm and start shaking, even violently .. now that your body knows to respond to this vaccine."

And I am thinking » "No doubt, this girl is impressed with me that I am such a tough guy that I eat bio-hazards for breakfast and do chemo for lunch."

She says » "It's important that you press this red button here at the first signs of this because I will need to come and shoot this demerol into your ass [ the I-V line ] so you stop shaking."

It only takes her 10 mins to pump the bio-hazard into your vein, but they keep you there for several hours .. to watch you.

My hottie nurse stops by every once in a while to check on me, and I am like » "Is that all you got? Dont you have anything stronger? Maybe you have some plutonium popsicles for me to suck on? That might get me going."

» The Malfunctioning Air Conditioner

Then, after a couple of hours, all of a sudden, I am like » "Dang .. something must be wrong with this air-conditioner. That sucker must be broken. Somebody needs to call maintenance. Cuz it is getting colder-than-shit in here."

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First Week of Radiation / Chemo

» I have had many rough weeks over the years, but this was up there with the hall-of-famers. I came home on Friday, feeling shakey-tired, and went straight to bed. Slept 'til noon today. Only then was I rested enough to be just normal-tired.

Depending on the schedule of the day, I sometimes have to get up before 5 to get ready and make a bite of breakfast for the day ..

.. and dont get home 'til late. Long days. Five days a week. Sometimes I get up before 4.

Much to share. Not sure where to start. Probably should mention first that the tumor (swollen lymph node) is almost completely gone, already.

The doctor (Radiation Oncologist) said that is rare and encouraging.

Okay, "almost gone" may be a bit optimistic. But I would estimate that it has shrunk ("melted") to the size of a marble .. from the size of a date.

» Visit Original ENT Surgeon

I also saw my original ENT-surgeon this week (Thursday). He was the one who referred me to Moores. He says that the fact that I tested positive for HPV-16 is actually a GOOD thing ..

.. because those types of tumors / cancers respond better to radiation / chemo than those caused by smoking / drinking. (I have never been much of a smoker or a drinker.)

I told him that the Radiation Oncologist was thinking of getting the surgeon to cut out the node and skip radiation / chemo.

He said, "I know. I told him that I didnt think that was a good idea."

"Why not?" I asked.

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Notes from the Infusion Center (First Chemo)

» Had my first chemo treatment today. Only they dont call it 'cheemo'. No. Rather they call it an » infusion .. which is a more pleasant word, you must agree.

This was while I was sitting in the Infusion Center, where they have 50 or 60 cushy reclining chairs ..

.. "We want you to be comfortable. Would you like a blanket and a pillow?" ..

.. and 5 or 6 separate rooms .. which I call » cabanas. (They will be giving me a cabana later this week.)

The biggest difference, right now, anyway, is that my legs are wobbly. I am unsteady on my feet.

They tell me that the two biggest side-effects are » nausea and fatigue.

Before they give you the 'infusion,' which lasts an hour, of a big liter-bag, they give you anti-nausea meds and a cortical steroid.

Actually, before they give you these meds, they first draw 4 vials of blood, which are sent off to the lab, next door.

"I just gave them a bag-full of vials last week," I protested to the nurse.

"A lot can change in a few days," she said.

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» In 1901 Annie Taylor was the first person to go over Niagra Falls in a barrel and survive (.. on her 63rd birthday). Since then, many other whack-o's have followed her over the edge.

Heading over Niagra Falls in a BarrelNow, you would never catch me going over the falls in a barrel ...

.. but I know the feeling.

In less than a week, I will be going over Oncolytic Falls of Radiation, Chemotherapy and Immunotherapy ..

.. in an emotionally distressed barrel.

I can see the event horizon from here. Thar she be .. dead ahead .. all sparkly and shiny-like. Terrifyingly beautiful.

Talk about being out of my comfort zone. I can hear the roar. I can feel the spray on my face. I can see the pace quickening. Better hold on for dear life. Here we go. "Geronimo!"

» Thornton Hospital, UCSD, La Jolla

Main Entrance to Thornton Hospital UCSD, La JollaI did not go to Moores today .. but I was close. Very close. Walking-distance close.

Because today I went to Thornton hospital .. which is part of UCSD medical.

I have never been there before. Lots of construction work going on in the area. A number of big cranes are fixed in various places throughout.

I went for another CT scan. (My third.) Plus more blood work.

» Save Some for Me, Will Ya?

I am getting good at these CT scans .. which require you leave the I-V in your arm for the duration of the test. After the scan was complete, the Clinical Trials girl brought over a bag full of vials for me to fill.

Vials of all different colors. Green, purple .. a veritable rainbow of colors. Pretty colors.

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