Oct 21

12 Year Anniversary With Cancer

10-20-2013 – Another month since the last Karmanos visit, and another year with cancer.

Every year in October, I’m reminded that it was nearing Halloween when I got so deathly ill and found out I have cancer.  It’s always struck me as an interesting coincidence that this time of the year, with the ghouls and goblins and the specter of the grim reaper in the air, is when it would happen, and become the time of the year that I confront it, and then go on to celebrate that I’ve lived to tell the tale.

I honestly didn’t expect to see Christmas that year, and few others who saw me at that time expected it either.  I was in stage 4, and there is no stage 5.  But here we are, 12 years later, and like the Energizer Bunny, I keep going, and going, and going…

I attribute the success to modern science and medicine, which finds new discoveries every day that improve my chances to live that much longer.  All you need to do is pay a little attention to the science and medicine sections of the news, and you can’t help but see the discoveries being made in the fight against all kinds of cancers.

Yes, I’ve had a good attitude throughout, and perhaps that helps, but really, without the chemo, the stem cell transplant, the ongoing care from doctors, nurses and family, my good attitude wouldn’t have gotten me very far, I don’t think.  And a fair amount of luck, too.  Far too many with the same cancer I have don’t make it near as long as I have, and my limited research reveals no pattern to determine why.  It seems to be the luck of the draw, more than anything else.

So, I’m celebrating my 12 year anniversary as a survivor.  I’m grateful I’ve had these 12 years to see my daughter grow from a 14 year old girl into a fantastic, responsible and loving adult.  I’m glad I’ve had these years to spend with her as that happened.  I’m so glad I lived long enough to meet the two grandchildren she’s given birth to, and to play with them and hold them and love them.

I’m glad for the adventures I continued to have in that time also.  Since being diagnosed in October of 2001, I’ve visited, lived, worked and played in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Phoenix, Dallas, Kansas City, Washington DC, Atlanta, Louisiana, Iowa, Minnesota, North Carolina, Kentucky, Alabama, Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, and several more places across America.  I even got to go to the island nation of Curacao, off the coast of South America.

Along the way, I hit every tourist and non-tourist spot in or near every one of them, shooting 10’s of thousands of photos to remember them by.  The Space Needle, Hollywood, Yosemite, Sedona, Montezuma Castle, The Grand Canyon, Meteor Crater, The Giant Redwoods along the Avenue of the Giants, the entire West Coastline along Highway 1 from Seattle to L.A., the Superstition Mountains, deep sea fishing in the Pacific, Apache Trail, Napa Valley, the St. Louis Arch, the Sears Tower, deserts, mountains, oceans, rivers, lakes, forests, caves, cliffs, waterfalls, dams, lighthouses, cities, towns and villages – far, far, FAR too many places to name.  That too has been one of my lifelong passions; To travel and see and discover and experience all that I can.  I’m so glad I got another 12 years of it, so far.

I’ve spent those 12 years learning so many new things too, especially learning how to craft my photography, one of my lifelong passions, and it continues today.  That’s been an exciting and personally rewarding journey for me, adding yet more joy to my life.  I’ve learned a LOT about the medical side of my cancer too; More than I ever thought I would.  My curiosity knows no bounds in any subject that grabs my interest, and this one certainly has.

So, here’s to the past 12 years, and the 12 to come:

12I had another monthly visit to Karmanos for my ongoing clinical trials with Ibrutinib last Monday.  It went pretty much like the others, but much faster, which was great.  There were no traffic snarls this time and the folks at Karmanos had us in and out in record time.  So fast, in fact, that we made it back home before dark even.  While I was there, I got my flu shot, and had no ill effects in the days since.

Dinner was at a Rally Burger along the way, which was just great.  I SO love their fries.  It’s one of the restaurants I really wish would come to Petoskey.

Casey and family moved out of my place and into their own apartment upstairs from me, and I’ve been going through a LOT of boxes of stuff I’ve been dragging around for untold numbers of years, vowing the whole time that, “one of these days I’ll take the time to sort through this junk.”  Well, that time has finally arrived, and I’ve been doing a couple to a few boxes every day or two (or three).  There’s a LOT of old paperwork; Work stuff, bills, receipts, manuals, and more that just have absolutely no use to me anymore.  So, every couple days I have a bonfire out in the fire pit and get rid of a bunch more of it.  Non-burnable junk goes into the recycle bins that end up in the recycle dumpsters up the road at the Fire Station, and the keeper stuff goes into boxes and into the spare bedroom for the moment.  Once I get through this initial sorting process, I’ll go through the keeper stuff and either sell it on Ebay or Craigslist, donate it, keep it for my own actual use, or scrap it to the recycle bins as well.

Maybe I’ll finish all that by Spring.  No giant hurry, other than to clear out everything from the main space that will become my photo studio area, so I can set that up, which is an important goal for me.  That part should happen over the next couple of weeks, at most.  I’m really looking forward to finally setting up and using the space the way I saw it when I first walked into the place back in March.

I guess that’s about it for now.  Till next time, you all take care, and I’ll do the same.  :)

[notice]Oops!  I forgot to mention…[/notice]

I also meant to mention something else, but forgot (I’m blaming the chemo!).

Emily Walsh, Community Outreach Director of the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, contacted me with a request to include some important information about asbestos and the cancer it causes.  She wrote to let me and my readers know that mesothelioma is a completely preventable cancer (caused only by asbestos exposure), and knowing more about the disease and it’s risk factors truly does make a difference.  With more awareness, hopefully one day we can get asbestos banned once and for all.

I’m glad to pass on this sort of information, and here’s the fact sheet she included:
Asbestos Fact SheetI’ll make a bold assumption that it’s fine for you folks to pass this on to others as well, by email or sharing on your FB page, or whatever.  More information to everyone we know is a good thing to help prevent and eradicate cancer of any kind.

Thanks again for all your love and support, and I’ll be back again with another update soon.

 

Sep 17

Karmanos and My Sore Thumb

9-17-2013 – Well, another 28 days has gone by since my last visit to Karmanos, so it was time for another trip to Detroit yesterday to assess how things are going.

My appointment was at 9:AM, so mom and I left early on our road trip; about 3:45 AM, actually.  Traffic snarled us up as we got close to Detroit about 8:30, slowing on the freeway to somewhere between 8 MPH and totally stopped, with no end ahead in sight.  With about 12 miles to go, it quickly became apparent that we were going to be late no matter what, so I elected to get off the freeway and take the side roads, and that worked out pretty well for us.

Once we got into the place, we were only in the waiting room maybe 20 minutes before I was called.  Then I got weighed at 198 pounds, and then had 5 or 6 vials of blood drawn, and headed for exam room 26, as instructed by the phlebotomist.  A few minutes later someone came in and asked the preliminary questions about what meds I’m taking, which is still just the Acyclovir and the study drug Ibrutinib.  I was asked general questions about any problems I might be having like nausea, coughing, fatigue, diarrhea, constipation, rashes, anxiety or anything else, and I answered that I’m not having any problems at all.

Not long after that, a doctor came in and asked the same questions and did a physical exam.  We talked about some open sores I’ve got on my face, and I explained that a couple of them on my neck are (I think) spider bites (I woke up with them a few days ago), some are from being over-zealous with a not-new razor while sitting here dry-shaving (realized later I’d scraped my face a little too close and was bleeding here and there), and a few pimples, with a new one just starting up on my nose.

I let him know that my thumb is in some pain as well and seems to be a little infected.  I cracked my thumbnail while working with some plywood and instead of going in the house and getting some clippers and a file to deal with it, I just tore the nail off in both directions and it got into the meat.

He said it still might have something to do with a reaction to the study drug, but that it didn’t look to be serious, and certainly not enough to stop the study.  He said to stop picking at them (easier said than done) and to apply an antibacterial ointment to them.  He also mentioned that we might want to get another PET scan in the near future, and I said that was just fine with me.  In general, his assessment was that everything looked good, and to stand by for a visit from Dr. Ramchandren.

A few minutes later, he and Dr. Ramchandren returned, went over the situation together, and decided to also prescribe an antibiotic in pill form that I’ll take for 10 days to help the sores heal up.  We talked about my schedule with the Ibrutinib and I let them know that I’ve been very consistent about taking them every day at exactly 3:30 PM, after spending 2.5 hours fasting before and a half hour fasting afterwards.  A few minutes after that, I had the prescription in hand and was directed to head back to the waiting room, where Colleen, the Dr.’s coordinator, would meet up with me and get me a fresh supply of the study drug, Ibrutinib.

So, back out to the waiting room we went, and pretty soon Colleen came by and asked if I had any leftover Ibrutinib and/or the bottle, and I handed it over and she said she’d be right back, and to head up to the front desk to schedule some more appointments.  At the front desk, we set up the next two appointments for two o’clock in the afternoon, so that we wouldn’t have to get up in the middle of the night and run out the door at 3 in the morning to make it to Karmanos by 9:AM again.  My next appointment is on October 14th, which happens to be Columbus Day.

While I was making the next appointments at the front desk, Colleen came by and said she was still waiting for the Lab work to come back so that she could get the pills, and I told her I understand.  She said she hoped to have the pills for me so we could be on our way within about a half hour.  Well, the last couple of times we’ve been there doing this, we were there all day, not getting the pills in hand until REALLY late, so frankly, I had my doubts that she’d be able to make it happen that quickly.

It’s not her fault, or anyone else’s, for that matter.  It’s just that there are protocols to be followed, and they take time.  Nonetheless, it was getting close to noon, and I was getting hungry, and because of my fasting schedule, it was getting near time for me to eat.  So I let her know that I’d hang out for a little while longer, but if she wasn’t back with the pills soon, that I’d have to leave and come back.  She insisted that she thought she’d have them within about half an hour again, and I told her again that I’d heard it before, it wasn’t true the first few times I’d heard it, and it was sounding like an echo.

In any case, I let her know that if I do leave, I’d just be going downstairs to Wendy’s and would be right back.  I gave her my cell phone number and told her to call me if she came out to give them to me and I wasn’t there.  With that, I went back to the table where mom was still sitting, and sat down to watch another episode of Weeds on Netflix on my tablet.  It’s a half hour show, so I figured that’d be a good way to pass the half hour waiting for Colleen.

I always use my little ear bud headphones with my tablet in waiting rooms so as not to disturb the other people and to drown out what is usually a news channel droning on about the latest crisis situation that they talk about breathlessly while imparting no actual information, because they never seem to actually have any.  The same was true yesterday, as someone had shot to death a dozen people at the Washington Navy Yard and CNN was breathlessly carrying on about how they had no actual information.  Over and over and over and over and over.  And over.

When the latest episode I was watching ended, I told mom I was going to Wendy’s and asked if she wanted anything.  Just a diet pop was her answer, and off I went.  I came back with a burger, fries and sodas for mom and me, and right after I took my first or second bite and had my mouth stuffed full, Colleen showed up with the pills.  So, while it was a little longer than half an hour, she was still pretty close, and it was awesome to get them that soon.  I gave her a big thumbs up because my mouth was full, and off she went again.

As soon as I was finished eating, I packed up the tablet and pills and away we went, out of the Dresner Clinic, into the elevator, down to the first floor, and on through the lobby to the front door, where I paid the $2.50 for valet service to bring the car up.  A few minutes later and we were on our way up the road again, headed for home.

We drove for a few hours and mom got a little nap in the passenger seat, then we stopped for gas and dinner at the truck stop next door called the Hilltop Restaurant.  I had an open faced roast beef sandwich with mashed potatoes, gravy and coleslaw, and mom had a BLT.  While we were eating, FOX news was on a couple of TV’s up in the corners of the place, carrying on about how much they didn’t know, just like CNN was doing earlier in the waiting room.

Meanwhile, a GIANT elk head watched over the whole thing:

Hilltop Restaurant ElkWhen we came out of the restaurant, mom offered to take over the driving, which sounded fine to me.  I had no idea how tired I was, but a few minutes later, I was sound asleep in the passenger seat, and when I woke up, we were at our exit in Indian River.  Soon after, we were pulling up at my house.  Not long after that, I was in bed having a nap, after a long, but satisfying day to Detroit and back for my monthly checkup.

 

Aug 20

One Month With Clinical Trials

8-20-2013 – It’s now been one month since I got into the clinical trials for Ibrutinib, and that meant going down to Detroit to visit my doctor at Karmanos Cancer Center.  Last time, that visit took nearly a week from start to finish, but this time we were in and out in a single day.

We left the house about 8:AM, drove down to the Detroit area and got there about 1:PM.  About 1:30 we were in the Karmanos building and not long after that I was ushered in to get my regular blood draw.  They got 6 vials this time.

From there, I was off to exam room 26 to await the doctor.  As usual, a nurse came by and asked all the prelim questions, like if I’m in any pain, sleeping well, any rashes or coughs or depression, and so forth.  I gave her the update that everything’s just peachy here, as usual, and she checked it all off in her paperwork and was on her way.

Another half hour or so probably went by while I played on my cell phone, and then the doc came in.  He asked some of the same general questions, plus specific questions about possible side effects of the new drug, and I reported that as far as I could tell, I’m not having any and that I feel great.  He did a physical exam, pronounced me good to go for the next month of Ibrutinib, and was on his way.

From there, it’s a matter of waiting for the drug to actually show up.  A lot of time passed.  Hours, actually.  Mom, who was waiting out in the waiting room, got bored and came looking for me, so then we sat there together, chatting and playing with the tablet and stuff.

Finally, after what seemed like forever when you’ve got nothing to do but wait, the drugs showed up and we were on our way.  I shot a couple of photos on the way out:

karmanos_5025karmanos_5026

From there, we got right on I-75 and headed North for home.  Along the way, we stopped off at a great Chinese buffet.  They had lots of stuff to choose from, including sushi, which was great.  Mom thought about trying some for the first time, be then decided against it.  We also stopped off at a Bass Shoe Store at one of those big Manufacturer’s Outlet areas along the way so mom could get a new pair of shoes.  We got home about 11:30, I guess.  Well, I did.  Mom still had the drive from my place to hers.

So, it was kind of a long day, but not bad.  I enjoy road trips and it’s always good to have a clear grasp of where I’m at medically, so I don’t mind doctor visits at all.

I guess that’s about it for now.  Feeling just great, still getting in some bicycle riding, not growing a third eye or any other side effects from the new drug, and all’s well as far as I can tell, so no complaints here!

 

Aug 02

Immunization Schedule Cancelled

8-2-2013 – Got the result of my queries with the staffs at my oncologist’s office and the folks down at Karmanos heading up the clinical trial I’m in on the question of whether or not to continue with my immunization schedule.

As you can probably tell from the Headline of this post, it’s cancelled for now.

Okey dokey.

That’s about it on the medical front.  Still taking the Ibrutinib and Acyclovir as directed on my strict schedule, and all’s well as far as I can tell.

I’ll be back at Karmanos in about two weeks, so if I don’t update between now and then, I’ll be sure to right after that next visit.

:)

 

Aug 01

Immunizations and Bike Rides

8-1-2013 – Hi again!

So, part of my road to recovery after the stem cell transplant is getting immunization shots, just like when we’re kids.  I had to wait a few months after the transplant to start that, and had my first ones almost two months ago.  The plan was to get more every two months until I’ve got them all, and that next set would then be due on about August 6th, which is just a few days away.

Of course, in the meantime, I’ve started this new clinical trial, and I don’t know how that might affect the immunization schedule.  So, I called my oncologist’s office today to pass along to her that the date’s coming up, but I am on the clinical trial, so she might want to consult with the folks down at Karmanos to figure it out, and let me know.

Speaking of the clinical trial, I’ve been on the drug now for just over a week.  I’ve kept rigorously to my fasting and pill-taking schedule.  The good news is that I’m experiencing no side effects that I can detect.  The bad news is that it hasn’t caused me to gain any superpowers either.  😀  I guess it’s all good.

Meanwhile, I got a call from the coordinator for the clinical trial a few days ago rescheduling my next appointment there for a few days earlier than I was told.  Now, I don’t personally have a problem with that.  It’s not like I have anywhere else I need to be.  But it’s really a bummer because so many people around me planned out their schedules based on the original date, and now that’s changed, so everyone else will need to change with it.  There’s a ripple effect.

Like there’s my mom.  She drives down with me, and we take her car.  I don’t know if she had any plans for the few days before my appointment, but they’re cancelled now.  And anyone she had plans WITH has to revise theirs as well, and so on, and so on, and so on.  There’s my dear aunt Aggie, whom we stay with while we’re down there, because a motel stay would kill me financially.  Whatever plans she might have had for those few days before the date originally given may now have to be changed, and those who might have been a part of those plans also have to change and, again, and so on, and so on, and so on.  And then there’s my daughter, her significant other, and their kids.  His son, who’s visiting, was scheduled to go back with us on a particular date.  To pull that off, his family in the Detroit area had to arrange their schedules to be there to receive him, and the people that were involved in those schedules are now affected as well, and so on.  So, if his mom, for instance, arranged to have someone else take her shift for that day, that person rearranged their schedule to do it.  Now, she and anyone else involved need to do it all over again.

Ripple effects.  See?  It’s not just about me – it’s about LOTS of people being affected.

Anyway, it was a little exasperating to get that phone call and realize the significance of it, when the coordinator, while mouthing sympathy, didn’t seem to really understand the problem.  Anyway, I don’t want to seem ungrateful.  After all, this is a potential life-saving thing for me, so I don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth.  I just hate to cause a lot of inconvenience and stress in others over it all, ya know?  It kind of stressed me out.

Moving on…

Here’s something I hadn’t mentioned yet in my blog: I got a new bike.  Doc said to keep up my exercise, so I got a bike to get around our little town and to get some fresh air and exercise.  She’s a beaut too:

photo of Buck's bicycle

The saddlebag is big enough to carry my camera with me, which is great.  There’s a new, paved bike path that runs between Alanson and Petoskey that’s pretty nice.  I’m not sure it goes all the way between them, but it’s at least most of the way.  It’s not quite finished yet, but close enough.

My granddaughter Gracie and I take a little ride on our bikes once in a while down the dirt road to the river locks, and that’s always fun.

So, I guess that’s about it for now.  Will update again soon.  😀

 

Jul 23

A New Drug

7-23-2013

Quite a lot’s happened since my last update which, in a way, is why I haven’t had an update recently.

First of all, I learned WordPress at Lynda.com, where I do most of my online learning these days (actually, for the past several years), and decided to move all my old journal entries and Blogger posts over to a brand spankin’ new WordPress site (this one you’re reading).  I bought a new domain name for it, MediBuck.net, and set it up on a new server at BlueHost.com.  Then I spent several weeks copying my 60 original old journal entries to it, then importing my 72 Blogger posts into it, so that it’s all here in one spot.  So, with all that going on, I just sort of wanted to stop blogging until I’d completed the task, so I wouldn’t have some posts in transition or something.  Anyway, that’s all done now, so back to updates again.

On the medical front, a lot’s happened here as well.

First, the giant golf ball sized polyp discovered and removed during the colonoscopy wasn’t actually a polyp.  It was a growth associated with my cancer, per the lab report that came back after doing a biopsy on it.

That seemed to indicate that my recently achieved remission was very short-lived indeed, and prompted my oncologist to contact the doctors down at Karmanos, where I’d gotten the stem cell transplant in December.  They had a discussion about it all and what to do next, and felt that I would be a good candidate to take part in a clinical trial for a new drug that’s not yet been approved by the FDA, but that shows great promise so far for certain blood-based cancers, like mine.

It’s called Ibrutinib and you can click on the word to get to a wiki page about it.  There’s more exciting news about it HERE and of course you can Google Ibrutinib to find out even more.

Getting admitted as a candidate into the study took some doing.  As an experimental drug not yet approved by the FDA, everyone involved, from patients to doctors to support staff, needs to jump through some hoops to make it happen.  Lots of blood was drawn and I had a fresh new PET Scan down at Children’s Hospital in Detroit, which is part of the medical complex where Karmanos is.  There was a lot of paper work to be initialed and signed in front of witnesses, then more blood draws, physical exams, and so forth.

Along the way, the PET scan showed that my cancer wasn’t running rampant, as was feared from the giant lump removed from my ass, which was great news.  In fact, it’s not showing its ugly head at all, though it’s obviously still in my blood (no cure, as you’ll recall).  That means that technically, I’m still in remission.  (WOOT!!)

We’ll assess the actual situation in a couple / few months with another bone marrow biopsy.  I think that’ll be my 5th or 6th of those over the years, but you never really get used to them.

The whole process from, “maybe let’s try this new drug” to “you’ve been approved as a candidate” was about 2 months, having started just a couple days after my colonoscopy on May 21st, and finalizing paperwork and getting the actual drug yesterday, July 23rd.  According to the paperwork, I’m one of only about 5 or 6 in the study at Karmanos, and only about 250 in the entire United States.

Here are a couple of photos of it:

Photo of Ibrutinib warning labelI thought that was a pretty interesting warning label.  Here’s another shot of the bottle, label and capsules:

Photo of Ibrutinib drugI’ve got to spend two hours fasting before and a half hour after taking, so I’ve set up some daily reminders on my smart phone, and gave myself an extra half hour before, just to be sure:

  • 12:30 PM – EAT NOW!!
  • 1:00 PM – STOP EATING – NOW!!!
  • 3:30 PM – Take 4 Ibrutinib capsules
  • 4:00 PM – You can eat again now

The plan now is for me to take these every day until I decide (for some inexplicable reason I can’t even fathom at this time – perhaps some bad side effects or something) to quit taking them OR it’s shown that they don’t work for me.  I guess it’s sort of like how folks with high blood pressure take their daily meds to keep their high blood pressure under control, this will hopefully keep my cancer under control.

For how long?  Who knows?  It’s still in its infancy as a drug, so nobody knows yet.  Experimental, cutting edge, pre-FDA approved.  Yeah baby, that’s me!!  To boldly go where no man has gone before!!  Go science!!!!

Seriously though, it’s pretty amazing to think about: If I’d gotten the crap kicked out of me by my cancer 10 or 20 years earlier, it probably would have killed me pretty quickly, especially in as bad a shape as it had me in when they discovered it.  But by the time I was diagnosed in 2001, chemotherapy treatments had come a long way, and there was this new stuff called Rituxan that had just been approved by the FDA, and it worked great.  Between that and modern chemotherapy, I got a couple years worth of remission.  In that time, chemo and Rituxan therapies improved some, and when my first remission ended in 2004, a new round of treatments put me into a new remission that lasted several years, until 2012.  In that time, we got stem cell transplants, which I had in December, and now this new anti-cancer drug that’s as easy as taking a few pills per day.

And here I am, in another remission.  With every day that I survive, science takes another giant step toward making it possible for me and others like me to have a better chance to live indefinitely with an incurable cancer that was a guaranteed killer not too long ago.  If this keeps up, they may even find a real cure for it in my lifetime and eradicate it altogether, so future generations won’t even have to deal with it at all.

Amazing.

 

Jun 06

6 Month Stem Cell Transplant Checkup

Photo of Big Boy Restaurant by Buck Cash
6-6-2013 – It’s now been 6 months since my stem cell transplant, so it was time to visit Karmanos in Detroit again for a checkup.

Mom and I took a ride down on Tuesday morning and got to the Detroit area about noonish. We picked up my sister Trudy and went to lunch at Checkers because I’ve been craving their fries for months, and there’s no Checkers or Rally’s in Northern Michigan (that I’ve been able to find). It was delicious and really hit the spot.

After that, we went to The Henry Ford in Dearborn to see the new Star Trek movie in 3D at the spectacular IMAX theater there, and it was AWESOME!!!! WOW!!!

After that, we took Trudy back to where she’s staying temporarily and rolled on out to Ann Arbor, where we met with my aunt Aggie for dinner at Big Boy’s, where I got the photo above.

Then we all went back to Aggie’s to rest for the night. Late the next morning, Aggie and I went to Coney Island for lunch, and then mom and I drove to Karmanos in Detroit for my appointment.

I had a little altercation with a lady who wanted me to take my shoes off to measure my height, saying they always do it that way, and I said, “no you don’t – not in the 12 years I’ve been dealing with this.” She wanted to have an argument with me about it, and by the time I sat down to get my blood drawn, my blood pressure was elevated, prompting the nurse, and later the doctor to remark about it.

Anyway, the exam itself went just dandy. Things are going really well, and I got my first 5 immunization shots. I’ll get 5 more every 2 months in Petoskey, and then 6 months from now I’ll go back to Karmanos for another 6 month checkup, where I’ll get my last 5 to complete the re-immunization process, just like a kid goes through.

The doctor had me stop taking the Acyclovir until I see my doctor again on the 12th and get blood work, saying that something’s elevated (to do with my liver?) and it could be the Acyclovir causing it. If it’s back to normal when I see the doc on the 12th, I’ll start back up on it, but at half the dosage I was on up till now.

That was about it. We left Karmanos and headed North up I-75, stopped off somewhere along the way for dinner at a Cracker Barrel where I had a terrific pork chop dinner, and got home just as it was getting dark.

So, everything’s progressing well here!

 

May 21

Colonoscopy Day


Polyp 0116, originally uploaded by Buck Cash.

Okay, so today I had my first ever colonoscopy. Seeing as how I’m 54 years old, it’s a common thing for guys my age anyway, but mine was triggered by something spotted on my recent PET scan, which was a follow-up to my Stem Cell Transplant for my Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Anyway, prep for it started yesterday, when I went on a liquid diet at about noon. At 11:PM I took 3 Dulocolax/Bisacodyl tablets, sold off the shelf at Walmart. At 6:AM this morning I started drinking a mixture of lemon-flavored Gatorade and Miralax. Over the course of 3 hours, I drank 96 ounces of Gatorade mixed with 357 grams of Miralax. The rest of my morning was spent running to the bathroom to vacate my colon. Over and over. And over.

All in all, it wasn’t too bad at all. I like Gatorade, and the Miralax didn’t seem to do much to the flavor. It was just quite a bit more in a 3 hour period than I was used to, and of course the many bathroom breaks because of it.

At 2:PM, I showed up at the hospital, filled out a form, and they ushered me right in and had me change into a hospital gown. Then I got onto a gurney, got an IV installed, and got wheeled into the room where the procedure was to be done. A nurse shot a little something into my IV port to get me relaxed, and the doctor explained what to expect. I was rolled over onto my left side, knees pulled up towards my chest, and I could see what they were seeing on the big monitor I was facing, which I found pretty interesting.

They found and removed 3 polyps. One was the size of a golf ball, and I heard the doctor tell the nurses, “You might see one this big every 25 years.” After removing it, he placed two metal clips to stop the bleeding on a severed artery, and that pretty much wrapped it all up.

The photo is of my golf ball sized polyp before we went our separate ways.

All in all it went pretty well, and it went really easy. The doctor said to have another colonoscopy in about 5 years, add fiber to my diet, and have a great day.

I guess that’s about it till next time!

May 10

PET Scan Results


Egg Coloring 3280, originally uploaded by Buck Cash.
Went to see the Doctor on Wednesday to go over the PET Scan results. To get straight to THE point, no cancerous activity spotted, so the remission is ON, BABY!

It did show a couple other areas of activity though. One was my sinuses, which are showing a bit of activity. I’ve been having what seems like hay fever / pollen type symtoms for about a week now; Watery eyes, sneezing, lots of mucus, etc. Anyway, Doc gave me some antibiotics, just in case, and I’m taking Claritin to dry up the sinus a bit.

It also showed that I have a single gall stone, but it’s calcified already, and probably won’t give me any trouble.

I’ve got a couple of infusions to do. First one is on May 15th and the next is on June 12th. I don’t even remember what I’m being infused with, but it’s to boost something that’s still a bit low. I’ll update with full details when I get the first on on the 15th.

I’m scheduled for a visit to Karmanos in Detroit on June 5th for a visit with my Doctor there doing a follow up on the Stem Cell Transplant. I expect that will go just fine.

I checked the Henry Ford IMAX schedule and found that the new Star Trek movie will be playing there in 3D, so I’m definitely planning to take that in while I’m there.

Also I’ll be scheduled for a colonoscopy soon because of something really small and pretty insignificant that showed up in that area. Doctor’s not terribly concerned about it, but we’ll take a look just to be sure because of my age.

Speaking of age, I just had a birthday. 54 and still going strong here! That’s about it for now! Will update again when I have more.

Till then, cya later cats and kittens! ;>)

Oh, and the photo is of my grandson, Michael, just being his happy self.

May 03

PET Scan


Stranded Spider 2282, originally uploaded by Buck Cash.

Well, here we are a couple months after my last post. Not much has happened medically in that time, until yesterday, when I had another PET Scan.

It’s an easy procedure; Go in, get an IV, they inject the radioactive isotope marker into the bloodstream, give you a blanket and turn out the lights so you can nap for 90 minutes while it goes to all parts of your body, then wake you up, scan you in the big donut machine for about 20 minutes, and you’re on your way.

I’ll have a visit with my doctor next Tuesday to review the results of that scan.

Other than that, I moved into my own place, which has a nice big studio space I can work with, so that’s pretty cool.

Casey, Gracie and Michael have been staying with me while she looks for a job and her own place in the Petoskey area.

I’ve been selling off a bunch of stuff I no longer use on eBay and that’s giving me a little extra cash and helping me do a little spring cleaning.

And speaking of spring, THE SNOW IS FINALLY GONE!!!!! WOOOT!!! I probably shouldn’t get too excited. It’s only the beginning of May and I’m in Northern Michigan – We could get a blizzard tomorrow! LOL!

Anyway, all’s good here, as far as I can tell. A little congested the last couple of days, but my mom says it’s all the pollen this time of year. LABS next week when I go to see my doctor should tell if it’s anything else that needs to be dealt with or not.

So, I’ll fill in again next week after I see the doc! Till then, enjoy this spider photo I shot a while back (even though he’s dead now, he’s sort of a pet – get it? PET Scan? I know – Duh!)

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