Monday, January 29, 2007

Here We Go Again

One question I got last week from a reader is “How do you get ready to go into the hospital, and what do you bring with you?”

I go in tonight, so I think this is a good time to go through my routine. All last week and this weekend I have been making sure that the fridge and freezer is stocked for Jen and Jake. The last thing she needs to do is go to the grocery store. I also made a meatloaf and a lasagna that I left in the fridge.

The morning of my admitting I call to get a password to the wireless ineternet at the hosipital. I don't get admitted until after 7pm, so I get this taken care of early.

I bring the same things to the hospital every time. Here is my packing list:
  • Pajamas, Tee-Shirts, Slippers: I refuse to wear hospital gowns, so I wear jammies all the time in the hospital.
  • My X-Box 360 and Games: I bought this after my second trip to the hospital. I have brought it with me ever since, and it helps relieve the boredom.
  • My Laptop: to read email and sometimes even get some work done. The hospital has wireless internet, which is very helpful.
  • Candy Candy Candy: I bring candy to eat when I can’t eat anything else. I also like to have it to give to the army of nurses and doctors that I see on a daily basis.
  • My Pillow and Blanket: A little touch of home away from home.
  • Decorations: Cards from Jake, pictures of my family, and a bunch of signs Kelleye made for me.
  • Books and Magazines: I am bringing The Long Tail to finish up, and I usually bring a Business Week or 2.
  • Me: I wish I could leave this at home!

I’ll be in for a week. Wish me luck!
Peace, Love, and Hershey’s

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Don't Say It!

In the movie “Brighton Beach Memoirs”, the lead character monologues about diseases. Hey says that when you say the name of a bad disease, you have to whisper it, or you will get it yourself. “My uncle has pancreititis” or “My brother died of cancer”. Especially cancer. That word is the worst possible thing. Nobody says it except doctors and patients.

When I see people I know, they never say cancer. It is “how are you feeling?” and “how are you doing?”, “how did it go last time”, and “I am proud of you for how you are handling this.” Here is a list of things people don’t say:

“How is your cancer?”
“Beat that cancer yet?”
“Has your cancer gotten worse?”
“How is the cancer fight going?”
“You look great for a cancer patient.”

Don’t get me wrong, people are truly concerned and their support is awesome. But it is interesting how cancer provokes such caution with people’s words. Maybe other patients are different, but I am not ashamed or embarrassed about my cancer. I have no problem talking about it or answering questions.

I am doing well. My cancer is going (or gone) away, and the treatments seem to be the reason. I have the best doctor in the world, and I am at the best hospital in the world. My wife and son brighten every day of my life. I guess if things weren’t going so well, I might not be as happy to talk about it. Maybe.

Peace and Love.
Double Goose in Your Eye.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Jumping Back On

Since starting treatment for malignant melanoma last May, sometimes I feel like the world is a merry-go-round. Things seem to move quite fast, and every couple of weeks, I take a step off and do another treatment. The world spins on, oblivious (maybe), of the temporary loss of one of its inhabitants. A few days after I get home from the hospital, I get a little run going, and hop back onto the merry-go-round.

My last treatment went well, although it was one of my worst eating-wise. I went in last Monday, and Tuesday Jen brought me a sandwich from Schlotzsky’s (after this, I am going to do a commercial for these guys: “Your turkey-bacon-club got me through chemotherapy”). It was the last thing I ate until Saturday morning.

The treatments are definitely having a cumulative effect. After the second dose of IL-2, I felt like I did at the end of the last treatment. I did 6 doses (yeah), and the doctor called it quits (wimp). Actually, I was determined not to cry uncle.

On the plus side, it was my shortest hospital stay ever (4 nights ICU, 1 recovery). It isn’t that I responded so well, or recovered so quickly. I think they just trust me to take care of myself and follow instructions when I get home. I say that’s good. I go home where I am more comfortable, and someone needier gets my bed at the hospital.

For the next post, I am taking questions from the audience. Email me or post a comment on the blog with your question and I will try to answer it. Feel free to ask me anything related to my cancer, treatment, state-of-mind, family, etc. No holds barred.

Well, until then, it is time to get back to the business of living, and business is good.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

No News is Good News

Hello Constant Reader (a phrase borrowed from Stephen King):

Yesterday I went to the hospital to get the results of the tests I had last week. As it turns out, they show nothing. This is good news. Last time, they showed nothing, so showing something would be bad news.

I have mentioned before that my cancer doesn’t really show up on scans. I can explain that a bit more. To understand why scans don’t work for me very well, you have to understand the concept of resolution.

A viewing machine can only see details as fine as its resolution, details smaller than that are lost. Imagine a large (say 10 feet wide) map of the United States. You can identify (resolve) different states, mountain ranges, maybe counties, rivers, maybe some large lakes. Maps like this usually have dots for the cities, even large ones. What about the neighborhood you live in? You can’t see (resolve) that on a map of the United States. It is just too small. If someone were to try to draw your neighborhood on the map, they would find they need a very small pen. In fact, the size of the pen you can use determines the resolution.

Even if the person were to draw your neighborhood, it would be wrong, because just putting a dot on the map would cover many neighborhoods. In other words, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between one neighborhood and another.

This is the problem with my scans. Although my cancer spread around my abdomen, it was thinner than the resolution of the scanning machines (CT scanner). If the resolution of a CT Scan is 1 millimeter, then the machine cannot see anything smaller than that. The only way to see something smaller, is to open me up and look. The human eye can see much better than a CT scanner (in some ways).

So, why do we do these scans, especially considering that they are so uncomfortable? Well, if the cancer grows, we need to know right away. They scan my brain with MRI to see if the cancer has spread there. All my scans come up negative for cancer.

My next post is going to explain some cancer treatments, and why they work (or don’t)

Cancer Sucks