And a good morning/afternoon/evening to all you good people out there. I hope all is well.
Official Weigh-In……and ….. 173.9. So I’ve gained almost four pounds since Monday? Wow. The trend seems to be that I lose over the weekends and gain while I’m here. No rhyme or reason behind that because I’m eating the same thing. On Monday 3/11… weight was 169.6 On Thursday 3/14…172.6. On Monday 3/18, weight was 170.2. Now today, 173.9. Not sure what all that means but a couple of things I do know….NO FEEDING TUBE…..and those chocolate smorgasbord smoothies I’ve been chowing down on are gooooood.
Other updates….. sleep is the same. No more than 2-3 hours at a time. It still looks like Johnny Knoxville and his “Jackass” gang buzzed the back of my head. Oh…and this nice side effect…..
I intentionally made the image smaller because it looks gnarly. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is what is known as a radiation burn. The area that is most affected is actually the area where the tumor is/was. That is the area the radiation beams are concentrated on the most. The other side of my neck is also red and very dry but not cracked skin like this side. It’s been dry and I’ve been putting lotion on it… (“It places the lotion in the basket. It rubs the lotion on the skin or else it gets the hose again.”) (Sorry….movie quote)
(And yes…this shirt that I’m wearing in the picture USED to fit)
So regular lotion ain’t cutting it so I received…yes….TWO more prescriptions today for this issue. A lotion for the dry, cracked area and a lotion for the ….. hate to use the descriptive word…but….for the “moist” area.
I think I’m turning into a Zombie.
I’m not sure how that poem or whatever it is goes…Monday’s child is full of grace…..etc….but I’m changing it. Monday was definitely full of “blah” and Tuesday was full of “woe”. After hearing about the Missus’ car needing a new engine, we heard from the plumber that the restricted water pressure is due to the hot water heater going out. I swear…. if a country music singer was writing a song about me… I think they would say… “ENOUGH! I’ve got enough material! I’m good. I’ve got enough for several verses with some to loan out. I could write TWO songs.”
So on Tuesday…. two things happened that caused “woe”….
First, Tuesday is our favorite day of the week! And why is that boys and girls? Because it is CHEMO Day! Yeaaahhhhhh….. Chemo Day! Nothing like getting shot up with poison to get you off to a rip roaring start.
Actually, other than the first day and dealing with the nausea, it hasn’t been that bad. As I’ve described before, you get hooked up to an IV pole and they start pumping liquids in you.
(I’ve stated this before but this is for anyone that A) didn’t read it B) Read it and didn’t pay attention C) So bored out of their mind that they will read it again………)
Before any of that happens, they draw blood and make sure your levels of everything are where they should be. Basically, they check to make sure that you are “OK” to accept poison. (If that makes sense, then please explain to me.) After that, they start with a bag of saline to hydrate you, followed by a couple of bags of anti-nausea stuff, followed by the bag of chemo, in this case, CISPLATIN, followed by another bag of saline. As I’ve stated before, it takes awhile to get all this in you, about an hour per bag so the whole process, including the blood draw, takes about 4.5-5 hours. Keep this number in mind as you will see it again.
Probably one of the biggest pains is…with all this liquid pumped inside you, um…. well… you have to go. ALOT. So you have to unplug this IV machine from the wall, make sure your cords don’t get tangled, pushing the IV pole with the beeping machine down the hallway to find a restroom. I’m dredging up old posts (blogs?) but every time I wander down the hallway, I feel like the Mercury Astronauts in “The Right Stuff”. Thankfully for me, the cord is an IV cord, not like in the movie where it is an enema.
I digress….. ( I know… I seem to do that)….so ..where were we? Oh yes…. entering the room to start my chemo treatment. Now as you can imagine, there are a lot of people getting this done. There are places everywhere. I would say, they can probably accommodate 30-40 people? Lots of chairs. They have one big room with probably 15-20 chairs and lots of smaller rooms with two chairs each. I’ve had it done in both and it makes no difference to me. I have my laptop and check email, read the news, watch a movie (with earbuds). So for me, its a place to zone out.
Or so I thought…..
On this past Tuesday, I was in a room with someone else. Lets just call her …..”Nancy”. As in….”Nattering Nancy”. I knew it was bad when I walked in with my nurse, and “Nancy” said….”Oh goody…someone to talk to.” Nancy’s nurse and my nurse exchanged glances and they both looked at me and tried really hard not to smile. I could see this coming from a mile away so I put on my nicest smile and disarming grin and said ….”Unfortunately, I have a ton of work to do.” while holding up my laptop.
Now before you start booing me….. I’m a pretty nice guy. Seriously! I am. Ask anyone… well…most anyone. For the most part, I will talk with anyone. I’ll start conversations at gatherings. I enjoy talking…. (I can see most of you rolling your eyes right now….SHUT IT!) I have enjoyed talking and getting to know people here at the Hope Lodge but when you are trapped in a chair for 4-5 hours…and have been planning on some “personal? Down? Me? Time….and don’t feel like talking with anyone….. like while you are flying…? Then the last thing you want to do is talk with someone. On this particular day, I didn’t feel like talking with anyone but I was going to be nice about it…. she would understand my subtle hints…. my nuances…. my well-meaning gestures of wanting to be non-communicative….. she would get all of that….right?
As I settled down in my chair and was getting everything hooked up… she said… “Let me tell you my story…” And oh boy did she….. had breast cancer…beat it 18 years ago…now it “may” be back….her four daughters don’t want to visit her because they all smoke and there is no smoking at the Hope Lodge…. and how they are ungrateful….and on…and on… and on… and on….
The whole time she is talking…I’m not even looking at her. I’m trying to read email..read the news… thinking that she will get the hint that I am a rude person…but oh no…didn’t faze her in the least. Finally, I could see that nuance was being lost on her so I said…as politely as I could…”Excuse me, but there is some work that I really need to get done. I do apologize.” (There really was some work I needed to get done….. you naysayers out there.) She said…without missing a beat… “Oh Honey, don’t worry about that. You go right ahead and let me tell you what else happened.” And she continued, non-stop. At one point, a friend of mine called on the phone for something…. Thank God..and WHILE I WAS TALKING WITH HIM…..she kept talking. He asked what all that noise in the background was …this has now gone on about 90 minutes. She does not stop…even though I am carrying on a phone conversation with someone else and we are the only two people in the room.
Finally, the phone call ended …….I could see that I wasn’t going to get ANY work done…so I …as blatantly as I could.. opened up my bag, pulled out a DVD, stuck it in my laptop, got my earbuds and while I was looking at her…stuck them in my ear, and started watching my movie. No subtle nuance….no passive communication…no deftness…. this was just out and out…I AM SHUTTING YOU OUT. Did it stop her? Of course not. She kept on talking. A couple of times, she would ask me direct question…and I would make the deliberate act of taking the earbud out…pausing my movie and asking…YES? and She would ask me something and I would give a curt answer and go back to watching my movie but she never shut up.
Finally…(this has been going on for three hours now) I noticed how quite it had become….I could hear my movie without a drone humming in the background. I looked over and saw her asleep. Now for a brief moment, brief mind you….I considered waking her up and begin talking with her but I figured at this point, silence was golden… that I had indeed not been at my nicest.. I could have been more charitable and talked with her… and while I was feeling these pangs of guilt……emitting from her mouth was the loudest snore I think that I have ever heard. It wasn’t some wimpy quick gasp of air snore…..this was the full bellow snore. The kind where the nurses going up and down the hallways were poking their heads in my room to see what the heck was making that noise….and it was her. So back in go the earbuds….cranking my WWII John Wayne movie up to the maximum sound level still didn’t drown her out. Truly a day of woe.
But….evening is better right? The day can’t all be bad. Wrong.
I won’t go into detail….. I won’t try to evoke sympathy from you by using hundred dollar words when 5 cent ones will suffice. My Tuesday evening woe can be summed up with just one word…and I’m sorry if if makes you squeamish…but that one word is…. constipation.
I’m glad Tuesday is over.
So here it is Thursday…. one more day until the weekend. That’s a good thing, right? And what time is it?
UNRELATED STORY TIME!
Or…… How a hole in the floor made me pass out with laughter
Again, this has nothing to do with my treatment or my physical situation. This is just me sharing a story of one of my life’s travels.
I am going back to the well and share another story about being in Jordan ….with Ray.
Now if you didn’t hear the first story about Ray and him not wanting to lose a kidney, I forgot which post it is in but it is there somewhere. I think its a funny story and worth reading but if you don’t feel like it, the overview is about 10 years ago, we were doing some training in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Jordan is one of the US allies (probably because Israel is right next door) but a really cool place to visit. You can see the where Jesus was baptized…you can see “Petra” (The cool place in “Indiana Jones and the Lost Crusade” and in “Transformers III”. Anyway, the Kingdom of Jordan has bought a bunch of our products for their Correctional officers and while they had a group there teaching them correctional tactics, I was there with others to teach them how to safely and effectively use our products such as tear gas, beanbag rounds and pepper spray. With me was “Mike” from CA. The two of us were there for the week to teach them. Approximately one week before we went there, I called up one of our International Sales guys, “Ray” to let him know and not only was he glad to know, he decided to join us while we were there. (I know this is a recap but for those knuckleheads that don’t want to read the other story…blame them.)
So we had a driver…(Thank goodness because I don’t think there are any traffic laws there) and he would drive the four of us… (Sorry…”Jim” worked for the correctional tactic company and was our Point of Contact. Former NY Correctional guy…pretty good guy.)….so the four of us would arrive in the morning to the Jordanian Police Academy. We had our own classroom and I would say we would teach 20-30 guys a day. As you can imagine, translation was a bear…. but as they were fond of saying… “Mosh Mushkala” (no problem)
There were some active muslims there, there were some not so active muslims there, so prior to us getting there, they decided instead of following the five calls to prayer every day, we would just have one big long lunch break of about two hours and end the day at 4pm. Sounded good to us.
Now a word about….systems. Particularly, toilet systems in the middle east. In progressive countries, and I certainly would rank Jordan right up there, they have international hotels and restaurants. We stayed at a Grand Hyatt Hotel and it was very nice. (You just had to go through a metal detector to get in and out everyday because they had a bombing there a few years prior but WHAT hotel doesn’t have its own share of problems. Am I right?)
Sooo.. nice hotel…nice restaurants… even served alcohol in the hotel bar…. but when you got away from the glitz and glamour… you would run into…differences. Our first night was spent at the hotel so no big issues. The next day, we went to the Police Academy and as we were looking around…I think it was Ray who said…. “Guys…check out the toilet.”
Now this picture is not one of the actual toilet that we saw that day but is is a good representation. It’s a hole……in the floor. I’m not making this up. Toilets at hotel and restaurants? Same as we are all used to. Get away from that…..like at this police station……and this is what you have. Now for guys…#1… no problem. We just sort of get it close anyway. #2? Big problem. Unless you are a hunter in the woods… guys don’t normally “squat” to go to the bathroom. Compounding this…. ..beside the hole was a pitcher of water. No toilet paper…. a pitcher of water. An ewer if you will. I will have to admit that we spent considerable time trying to figure this out. No toilet paper… hole at floor level… only have a pitcher of water…. we weren’t sure if the water was for your hand…of for other body parts…or for the flush… ? Of course, we were not going to ask anyone. We didn’t want to be the (already) stupid Americans that don’t even know how to operate a toilet system that has been in place for over 6,000 years. So yeah…we left that one alone but we did make bets of which one of us would “have” to utilize this hole.
So we did our training….every day we would break for lunch for two hours and we had the “honor” to dine with the Police Academy Major. He didn’t speak a word of English and even though we had an interpreter, it was below the Major to ask for help so during this time we spent with the Major… silence. Someone would cook local cuisine and we sat there in silence with the Major until he was done…and he would leave…and we would finish up lunch…..and we usually had 30 – 45 minutes to kill before class would start back up. Well one day… we had the local cuisine…and it was some sort of seafood….. and as soon as lunch was over… Ray kept saying…. “Man…that fish is swimming downstream.”
I’m not going to go back and describe Ray. He is in another blog and worth the time and effort to find it and read about him. I will say he has a heart of gold….I have never heard anyone say anything negative about him…and a truly funny guy.
So we are done with lunch….and Ray keeps muttering how “the fish are swimming downstream”…and we still have about 30 minutes to go before class when Mike comes up to me and asks….”Where is Ray?” We both look at each other and look toward the bathroom door. At the Police Academy, the bathroom door has an opaque glass in the door. And Ray is wearing a bright red polo shirt. And you can see, through this frosted glass…a bright red shirt and movement. Mike and I…and Jim has joined us by this time…we all start laughing because Ray is going to be the first one to break down and use the Middle East toilet sunk in the floor with the pitcher of water. When Mike….devious mind that he has, said…. “Wouldn’t it be funny if someone released a fogger in the bathroom?”
Now a quick word on a “fogger”. We are teaching these guys how to use pepper spray. There are a couple of different ways to use pepper spray. The most common is in a small canister that squirts a stream. This is what most police and civilian versions are. For larger crowds, you need something that squirts the pepper spray with more force and sprays a larger area, so you can reach your crowd. This is a mid-level spray and it comes out with some force. For even LARGER crowds, you use a “fogger”. Remember those days when the mosquito truck would come through the neighborhood spraying for mosquitos and like idiots, we ran behind the truck? They were using a fogger. Now today’s technology advancement places the pepper spray fogger a little ahead of the kind used by the City of Mendenhall, MS in the late 60′s, but you get the point. This fogger Mike was talking about is hand held, full of inert (not pepper spray but just a fog for show and tell) and the spray comes out in a fog like a small fire extinguisher, with considerable force.
So…Ray..due to his “fish swimming downstream”…is now about to be the first one of us to utilize the hole in the floor…..and this whole time he believes he is going to get away with this. Mike runs into the classroom and grabs the hand held fogger, goes outside to the window of the bathroom, presses the nozzle inside the window….and lets it fly.
WHOOSH…..this cloud shoots out of this canister with a lot of force….making the WHOOSH sound…and the room quickly begins filling up.
We can see through the window, poor Ray is squatting over the hole…..when this cloud envelops him…..
Now imagine you are in a foreign land… and not comfortable using the toilet facilities but due to discomfort, you bite the bullet and want to get this over with as quickly as possible, without others finding out…and as you are all set to do your business…..squatting over a hole in the floor…..out of nowhere,…your hear a loud noise and this fog starts filling up the room you are in……
We see Ray’s red shirt start bouncing up and down….. (pulling up pants?)…..he runs to the window….he runs away from the window…. he runs to the door of the bathroom and frantically tries pulling it open… but the door won’t budge…. why is that? it worked fine while ago?…….. (maybe because two of his “friends” were holding the door in place?)….he jumps up and down a few more times…. the fogger lets another blast go… you hear a bellow/scream…. he runs to the door again…more frantic this time….he starts banging on the door…. and at this point… I almost passed out I was laughing so hard…..he starts running in circles around this bathroom…the fogger is about empty…..tears are coming out of our eyes… and we finally let Ray out.
By this time, Mike joins us from outside and the four of us are gasping for breath…. Ray for the exertion and the other three of us from laughing so hard. As you can imagine, this caused quite a stir at the Jordanian Police Academy…. some are laughing with us…. others are fearful of the Major and are quickly finding a place to hide…. we can’t help it…we are about to pass out from laughing so hard….. Ray is so relieved that he is not been the victim of some terrorism assault… that he is laughing harder than the rest of us.
We have to open up all the windows to let the fog out…. and we end up getting chewed out (a little) for “disrupting the professionalism of the Jordanian Police Academy”….and it may be one of those stories that you “had to be there”….but to this day, if Ray and Mike and I start talking about it… we laugh as hard today as we did then.
Hope you enjoyed!