Aug 26

Buck Skeleton Shirt 2013

Buck Skeleton Shirt 2013, originally uploaded by Buck Cash.

Still having an awesome day here!

Made the trip to town to see the doc and got my appointment for the Port installation, he totally filled me in on the procedure and showed me the device, stopped at the bank to take care of some business, stopped at the DMV to straighten out a typo on my license, stopped at the Medicaid office to fix the typo there, had awesome Chinese food for dinner while in town, chocolate ice cream for desert, a pit stop at Walmart where some young idiot thought I was a greeter and asked me where I keep the hand baskets, to which I got to reply, “Do I LOOK like I f***ing work here?!!” as I gestured to the front of my black T-shirt with a bright blue glow in the dark chest X-Ray skeleton complete with ingested beer can and remote control printed on it. He just walked away, stammering. Sounded like “asshole”, which made my day!

Seriously though… How freaking stupid does one need to be to spot someone wearing this T-shirt and joggers and no Walmart ID badge and think they’re working there?

With deductive reasoning power like that working for him, I’m amazed he’s made it this many days in his life without achieving a Darwin Award.

August 2nd, next Thursday, is surgery day to remove the PICC Line and install the Port. That’ll make things a lot more convenient for me, not having a catheter hanging out of my arm. It’s a PITA to wrap it all up in plastic every time I want to shower, plus I need my sister to flush it every day with saline and heparin.

I’ll be knocked out during the surgery, not that I’d be able to see anything anyway, as they’ll be working up around my neck and shoulders area to install it into a major vein and position it somewhere up there. Should be interesting anyway.

Had a pretty busy week.

Tuesday I had labs and a dressing change on my PICC line, then an exam and consult with my new oncologist.

Wednesday I had a CT scan.

Thursday I had surgery to remove the PICC line and install a Port in my chest. It was sore for a couple days, enough to dip into the pain pills, but it’s not too bad now.

Friday we drove 4 hours to Detroit to meet with the folks that will do my bone marrow/stem cell transplant. Had plenty of paperwork from them to do, then a blood draw, a full exam from the doctor who’ll head up my treatment on that front, then a 20 minute conversation with him about all the ways it could kill me in the process, my odds of going into remission with it, the 100% dedication and focus it will take for at least a couple months while going through it, etc.

He said it’s like a mission to space. Once the rocket launches, there’s no turning back or going off the plan. From that moment on, I either follow the plan to the letter, or I’m dead. He also told me up front that if things don’t go well, he won’t be keeping me alive on machines; He’ll let me go peacefully, and everyone involved needs to be aware of it.

We live too far away, up in the sticks, to deal with the daily routines involved with the regimen of a bone marrow transplant, so they’re going to set us up with an apartment or something nearby in the Detroit area for the duration of time it’ll take to do it. No idea yet when that treatment will begin; It depends on how long it takes for the chemo I’m getting to clean up my system enough to be able to take the transplant process and survive.

My sisters were both tested to see if either is a suitable donor (siblings are the best possible matches), but we won’t get the results of that for two weeks. The donor banks are also being looked at already, just in case neither sister is a match.

Next Wednesday I’ll be admitted into the hospital for my next intensive round of Hyper-CVAC chemo. Scheduled for about 4 days in the hospital, last time it had me in there for 22 days because when it tears down my immune system, it’s easy to pick up an infection from pretty much anything, which is what happened, then they gotta fight like crazy to combat it with several antibiotics, blood transfusions, round the clock vitals, blood draws and lab work, etc. Here’s hoping it goes a lot smoother this time.

That’s about it for now.

I got blood draws for labs again yesterday, but this time via the port in my chest, met with the oncologist for an exam and update, then checked into the hospital for my next round of chemo.

So, I’m back in the same room I spent 22 days in last time, hooked up to my bags of chemo chemicals going in through the port in my chest and an IV in my arm. There are 4 bags of stuff up there right now dripping into me.

Feeling fine here though. All set up with my laptop, tablet, smartphone, headphones, movies, music, books, magazines, games, work to do – plenty to keep my occupied. Did 10 laps around the hallways after breakfast, wheeling the IV tree I’m leashed to along with me. Just finished dinner here, so I think I’ll go do 10 more. Gotta stay active and get some exercise around this place, or it gets old fast.

So far, so good.

Yesterday during my 10 lap walk, I noticed that the hallway walls are marked with footages, and calculated that 13 laps around the whole path is a half a mile.

So yesterday after dinner I did 15 laps, just over a half a mile.

This morning at 6:30 AM right after I woke up for vitals, I got a cup of coffee and did 15 more. Then after breakfast and chemo bag change-out about 9:AM I did 27 more laps, a little over a mile, all while pushing my IV tree full of chemo bags and hoses stuck in my port and IV tap dripping away, of course. I plan to do the same after dinner tonight.

The oncologist made his daily visit this morning and said my labs indicated that my sugar’s a little high, so I should cut back on the ice cream and other sweets. Hemoglobin is a bit low, but as long as I still have good energy like I do, we’ll fore-go a blood transfusion for the moment to bring it back up. If I start to feel run-down, I’ll let him know and he’ll get me hooked up with one.

Things are going well.

Shot with my Galaxy Tablet using the panorama mode on the camera. Not perfect (the bay doesn’t have hills or bumps in the water between the land masses), but pretty cool feature nonetheless.

Walked a total of 3.5 miles yesterday, which was pretty cool. The high sugar has been tracked to the high doses of steroids that are part of the chemo they’re giving me, and my diet has little to do with it, so they’re now combating it with insulin added to my cocktail mix. I’ll shoot myself with that same as I do the Lovenox injections. I don’t know the schedule for them yet – I did two yesterday, as directed.

After a great day yesterday, I had a bit of a rough evening. About 8:30 PM the nurse came in to do vitals, give me my evening meds, change out chemo bags on the IV tree, etc. By 9 I was feeling quite nauseas out of the blue, and by 9:15 I was vomiting supper – violently. Finished with that, I was doing it again about 15 minutes later, but not much was left to come up. I found some anyway, and out it came. Rinse and repeat twice more, until nothing was left to come out but bile, and I spent a good hour being violently sick.

Nurse shot something into the IV tube, and I stopped puking and passed out for a few hours, till about 3:AM when I woke up and had to urinate. I have to urinate into a plastic jug, so they can keep measurements on how much I pee, so I go into the bathroom and take care of business, and at the end, I’m dripping blood from my penis, so I call the nurse to assess the situation.

The nurse looks at it and says we’ll just have to keep an eye on it and see what happens, so I go back to bed, sleep another couple hours, and get up at 6:AM when they do vitals and some more meds.

I urinate again and this time a little blood comes out at the beginning like it was leftover from last time, followed by the usual plain yellow pee. The nurse asks and looks, and I report what I saw, so unless it returns or someone decides to follow up, no idea what that was about. There was no pain or discomfort involved with it either time.

Then I got up, got a cup of coffee from the kitchen, and I’m feeling much better now.

Good morning everyone! It’s gonna be another GREAT DAY!! I can feel it!!

8-11-2012 – again
Had a full breakfast of two bowls of corn flakes, vitamin D 2% whole milk, sugar on top, wheat toast, yogurt, banana, orange juice. After that I took a half mile walk around the hallways. After 4 more hours at this point, still no nausea, and feeling fine.

Got the lowdown on the insulin injections: If my sugar goes above 150, I have to do an injection. Tested this morning after full breakfast and morning walk, it was 142, so all good. ETA: Tech came in and tested again as I was writing this, and it’s back up to 227, so a nurse will be coming in soon to hand me an insulin syringe so I can do it up. No biggie – still all good here.

4 bags O’chemo a-drippin’ and all’s well! Another 24 hours or so of that, and we go into the chemo-cleanup phase of the drips with a different set of chemicals for another 24 hours or so and, as long as no complications arise, I’m out of here again, and back home in a couple of days.

ETA: Oh yeah, we’re doing a blood transfusion today as well. Pre-Meds for that are here, and the blood’s ready right after that. The insulin’s here as well.

Had a bit of a downer day yesterday with fevers, chills, sweats, headaches, nausea. Didn’t even bother to try to eat or get on the internet – just mostly slept all day and let the nurses, docs and techs do their thing by rolling over or sitting up for a few moments at a time occasionally to give them access to wherever they needed every couple hours or so.

Glad that’s over, and again, MUCH better today! Did a Rituxan drip and will do another tomorrow, then cleanup meds, and back on track to get out of here, get a steak, and get back to the comfort of home again. Really looking forward to that!

Reporting live from the chemo ward on the 3rd floor of the hospital, this is your faithful reporter, Buckster, signing off till the next update!

Out of the hospital again and back home as of yesterday afternoon. Had to go back in to the Chemo Infusion Center today for a blood draw and an injection that’s part of the chemo out-patient thing. Next appointment is Monday for more of the same. Platelets are low, so they’re keeping a pretty close eye on that.

Home injections of Lovenox blood thinners for the clot in my arm are now reduced from 2 per day to 1, and then will be discontinued in about a week, according to the doc. Other meds are as they were, with one more added to the list for 5 days as part of the cleanup from the Hyper-CVAC chemo I just went through up on the third floor.

So, back to mostly relaxing and recuperating at home, with interspersed visits to the cancer center, for a couple weeks before we start the next phase.

Yesterday I went to the infusion center for a blood draw to do my labs. As part of the process, they do vitals, including temperature. It was 98.8. It normally fluctuates between about 97.4 and 99.4, so no big deal.

After the blood draw, I go to meet with the oncologist for a general assessment, and he says the labs I just had done at the infusion center indicate that my blood counts are WAY low; So low that I need a blood transfusion. So, he sets up the paperwork and sends me back to the infusion center for a blood transfusion. Checking in at the oncologist though, they do vitals again, and my temp was up to 99.2.

When I get back to the infusion center for the blood transfusion, they do vitals again, and now my temp’s up to 100.2, so they call my oncologist. He tells them to go ahead and do the blood transfusion that’s ready, then to take me upstairs to the 3rd floor and admit me into the hospital for a stay.

So, here I am back up on the 3rd floor of the hospital, in the room next to the one I’ve been n twice so far (same basic view though, which is nice) since yesterday. Did a blood transfusion in the infusion center and one or two more up in my room yesterday (hard to keep track because they give me Benedryl with it, and that stuff knocks me out pretty good usually).

Had some fairly intense pain in my lower left abdomen that woke me up last night about 3:AM, so called the nurse on it. She gave me a pain killer that did a great job, and I crashed back out about 20 minutes later. I wake up about every hour or two for no particular reason, look at the clock, and crash back out again.

Today’s going fine. Had a nice breakfast of a couple bowls of oatmeal with brown sugar, yogurt, an orange, a banana and coffee. I’m back on the low microbial diet, so no fruits or vegetables unless they’ve been peeled first, no soft egg yolks and no pepper unless it’s fresh ground myself in a grinder, which is fine with me.

At the moment, I”m getting another blood transfusion and several antibiotics.

I guess I’ll be here until the blood counts come back up to where they want them and they’re satisfied that whatever is making my temp spike is gone from my system.

I’m thinking tuna fish sandwich with cheese on toast, some chips, fruit cocktail and ice cream for lunch.

Back with more multi-updates in the next post.