Thursday, April 21, 2011

Oh Boy

Counts, counts, what are my counts?

WBC: 2.1
RBC 3.15
Hemoglobin: 12.3
Platelet: 65

Does that help you?
It doesn't help me, I feel great. Address the patient, not the numbers, yeah?
Well, I feel fantastic. Almost back to normal, but then, who defines 'normal'? Was I ever normal? And aren't the levels in my blood only relevant for those in my same situation; How many of us are to compare?
It doesn't matter, that's what I'm saying here. What matter's most of all is my mental health and overall happiness. I can claim to have both, but some of you may disagree with the former. To me, that just means your opinion of me has not changed at all, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
What I've got ahead of me is my new birthday - April 28. The day before I am to go into the DCAM and get another bone marrow biopsy, where we wish for what? That's right, NED is what we wish for. No Evidence of Disease. And I've got a pulmonary test, the one where I'm in a box and get yelled at to "BLOW" and try to exert off my lung power while sitting on an ice cold ledge made of metal. I am going to have to find some way to make that fun. the fun right now is surviving, isn't it?
This spring has opened up new opportunities and I'm making no small plans. I'm actually making moves to get out of the albatross of a house and try to move on with other aspects of living, some thing you all overlook ,some I have overlooked for too long. I'm still trying to improve on a daily basis, and look forward to more warm days in which I can get a little exercise and increase my lung power, so I can increase the amount of blood flowing, if my blood refuses to hold any more oxygen. I'll just move more blood!
And while this summer may not hold Chickenfest, it surely will have a lineupoflosers and I will do my damnedest to try and win some free tickets or something! I'd like to get back to full-time rocking out. I've noticed that beer doesn't affect e quite the way it used to, so I can get away on the cheap this year. I still love beer, oh hell, yeah, it is just that I have the tolerance of a high school girl, and cheap beer just plain tastes bad to me these days. I've learned to refine my ordering and enjoy the one or two cocktails of fine spirits when I go out and just leave it at that. It's a damn, shame, I know, but I can at least enjoy the tastes of things better and there's many positives in that.
If any of you want to take a bike ride over to Wrigley this spring, we can hang out and wait for home run balls on the street; bring your mitt! I'm waiting for a day over 60 myself. I found myself in front of the park this week, and while very tempted to go in, I had to pass due to the chilly weather. Cheap tickets or not, hell free, even, I cannot risk the chance of catching cold while sitting in 45 degree temps with a 20mph wind in my face. That's not fun unless you can brace against the wind with a pint in the pocket and well, I think I just discussed that! Now, if any of you have a seat in your suite that you would like to offer me, well, I can do that. I could even bring some extra tasty snacks.
I'm deliberately not talking about going back to work because of a current jam I'm in and soon hope to find a solution. I will elaborate when I've hurdled this obstacle.

Get outside and have fun, play frisbee, get half-naked on your lawn, just revel in the weather and ability of the humanity of the smile. Especially a child's! I miss those snot-nosed little buggers when I not allowed to be around them. Good thing my kid is a dog. And really, she's old enough to hang out, I think.

Them is your orders! Make a child smile today!
Peace to you all,

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Guest Post! - Tim Elliot

Ladies and Gentlemens, I give to you today a guest blog post; Please meet Tim:

Timothy Elliot

The Immediate Danger Of Aggressive Cancers

Cancer can manifest in a multitude of ways, not only in terms of where it is located and what type of tissue it spreads to and attacks, but also in terms of the way that it can unfold as a disease. Certain cancers will proceed remarkably slowly, while others can aggressively spread through-out the body almost immediately. Although scientists are unsure exactly why certain cancers can react aggressively while others are far more passive, but a genetic mutation of a protein called MAD2 might be a key part of the explanation. Because when the protein MAD2 is missing entire chromosomes can become unstable scientists’ believe the strong correlation between its absence and the chromosomal instability found in aggressive cancer cells. The MAD2 protein may be a key component in understanding how to stop some of the deadliest, most aggressive cancers, including breast cancer, colon cancer, T- cell prolymphocytic leukemia, and mesothelioma.
Breast cancer, which is diagnosed in over 207,000 new patients every year, is estimated to be responsible for a staggering 39,840 deaths a year. Because breast cancer is such an aggressive cancer, only about one-fourth of the diagnoses each year are able to be operated on while the tumor is in its earlier stage, which is particularly shocking given the widespread awareness of breast cancer. Fortunately, although breast cancer is an extremely aggressive cancer, there are often still several treatments available for patients- usually including surgery.
Colon cancer is likewise one of the leading causes of cancer-related death in the United States. However because almost all colon cancers begin as benign, noncancerous polyps, colon cancer, if caught early enough, can be treated completely. Unfortunately, colon cancer spreads quickly through-out the body and in many cases can have no symptoms. The most common symptoms of colon cancer, however, are abdominal pain, intestinal obstruction, unexplained weight loss, and blood in the stool.
Unlike breast cancer and colon cancer, T-cell prolymphocytic leukemia is a very rare form of cancer that occurs in only about two percent of all lymphocytic leukemia patients. However, because T-PLL is both extremely aggressive and resistant to chemotherapy it is among the deadliest of all cancers. T-PLL’s aggressive metastasis through-out the body causes the average T-PLL lifespan to be about seven and a half months. However, new treatments with monoclonal antibodies and the research into MAD2 are expected to be far more effective in treating it.
Like T-PLL, mesothelioma is far rarer than breast cancer and colon cancer, however mesothelioma is unique among the extremely aggressive cancers in that it has a latency of period of 20-50 years before it begins to aggressively expand through-out the body. However because tumor often goes undetected until the cancer has metastasized, the mesothelioma life expectancy is only about a year after diagnosis.
Patients diagnosed with these four deadly , aggressive cancers figure to be among the first to benefit from the new research that is being done on the role of the MAD2 protein in cancer. As we understand more and more about cancer, hopefully we will continue to find better ways to fight it as well.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Oh, how I love April Fool's Day!

And how I love opening day!

Hi, all of you all. I hope that spring has found you with a lightness to your steps, some planning for your yard projects and the hope that your baseball team has a chance this year to win it all! Here in Chicago, we've got two real good chances, the way I see the season unfolding, but like all the other prognosticators out there, I don't know beans about what will happen over the season. So we can take this moment and wish each other the best wishes for a great turnout this year.
Remember last year as I made it to opening day on the Southside? What a great surpirse that was. What an exhilarating feeling just to take a part in the season opener and see the "play of the year" on the first day, live and in person. Magical moment, that was. 75 degree day for an opener was magic as well.
This year, while I have the energy and time to go to the Cubs opener, I just don't have the funds. Or the foolhardiness to bear the cold weather temps and rain to risk grabbing a cold and turning it into another run at pnuemonia.
Opening day has a lot of meaning. The promise of spring, the return of my second love, baseball, for another season of fun and excitement, the joy of summer peeking from around the corner! All of these thing are represented by opening day. Oh boy, and just to share that same day with April Fool's day, well, that is the "OLD" New year's day, yes? The day all of those with the "NEW" Christian calendar calling the pagans fools for celebrating the upcoming planting season and new life on a non-christian day. Oh, how foolish we love to be though!
Have you ever played a really good April Fool's prank? Oh how I've longed to play a super good prank on some one, but I give them away too freely. I've always wanted to put the saran wrap on a few toilets, and Wrigley would be a perfect place to play such a trick, except I would probably never get to see the outcome. If any of you are going to the ballpark tomorrow, I implore you to try such a prank. And take pictures of the unhappy clowns exiting the bathroom! Perhaps that prank is a little too mean, yes? More than likely my own pranks will involve much lower mean levels, and more just plain tomfoolery. Like mixing salt and sugar, or putting a banana in a tailpipe.
What ever you do on the true first day of spring, just have fun, give yourself up to new hope, fall in love with baseball again, or just fall in love.
The world really is a lovely place. Sometimes we need a day like tomorrow to remind us of that fact.

P.S. - just so as not to confuse everyone with April Fool's ideas and what not, There will be a guest blog posted (for real guest blog, not an April Fool's joke)
after this one. Maybe it will make you forget all of the bad ideas I've given you!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

culver city

I've tried several times to update and post from my vacation spot here in L.A. Sometimes it does work as expected. I've attempts to send photos many times but keep getting errors. What I meant to send was a picture from my lunch view on Venice Beach, a cloudless sky behind palm trees and Culver City signage and a picture of some of the wonderful food I have been ingesting.
Today, during an all-out rainstorm, we ventured to Quality Seafood where we polished off three dozen oysters and had many laughs as the Californians scattered for cover. It seems as though they treat rain as we Chicagoans would treat snow and ice, only we drive better.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

travel was fine.

The trip went fine. I thought I might have had an extra seat but, no, I was left near the window and able to read most of the way out.
I arrived with no issue and soon enough was at Talon's house and grabbed a cocktail with nighttime laughter and story-telling. It took a long time to wind down after all the anticipation of arrival.
The weather today, is quite nice, much like anwarm spring day would feel I suppose. I still felt the need to wears jacket to lunch where I had two kinds of fries and the ubiquitous to calfornia turkey burger. Here's to living a healthy fat full life!!
More later, muchachoes!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Getting prepped for the LA

So here I am trying on the short pants. I may not need them.
I dont want to blind any astronauts with these pasty sticks.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I will be posting pix and text from my LA visit!
Stay tuned!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Just an update. Nothing new to report!

The only to report at this time is a wonderful time on staycation.
I've been hanging around, drawing and strumming the guitar. I've taken the dog for long walks and enjoyed sleeping late. Slowly I've been doing projects around the house that have been in the cobwebs of my mind and preparing myself to work harder to get this beast on the market and sold, thereby freeing me up even more than I am now. Certainly, my future is wide open from here, as I feel like a brand new man, with great energy and fresh ideas. to quote Ministry: "I found myself in love with the world", a feeling I hope never dies. I'd like to start doing even more things for myself, and become an better individual every day. I feel that I am well on my way to shiny things, and everybody loves shiny things, don't we?
That is all for now.
Thank you all for your support while times were hard, and for all the smiles and warm receptions as I healed and got better. I am humbled through all of your showers of love. I'm trying to live up to the love I have received. It's quite a lot!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I can't sit still!

I am so giddy at this moment that I'm having a hard time sitting still long enough to type. I know, it has been a while since I've posted. The delay was caused by a deep Chicago winter. Nothing more, nothing less. A week after my last post I had a bone marrow biopsy in it's routine place, the next one will be in three months or so. I was to get back results from this biopsy last Wednesday, the 2nd. Except the clinic was closed due to some 20+ inches of snow. Which forced the doctors to delay my appointment one week until today.
Are you putting this together yet?
My blood counts are still "pudgy". (Doc's word, not mine)
WBC: 1.8
Hemogolobin: 10.4
Platelets: 77
For me that's not pudgy, that's damn near normal! Save the WBC, that is. Either way, my counts continue their slow climb from the forced zeros of last April. As for how I feel, well, I feel great. I even managed to get some cross-country skiing in, an exercise I was concerned about because of it's great aerobic activity. I was gassed pretty good a couple of times for sure, but I still had a good time, and wasn't completely wiped out. I'm not saying I didn't "wipe out", because I did do that three times. All part of skiing. No yard sales, though.
The blood counts are not the source of my giddiness however.
The overjoy stems from the doctor informing me that I may travel, return to work and do just about everything I wish to. WHoo Hoo!!!!! I still have to avoid sick folk and children, but I can get back into a normal life instead of this weird lifestyle of hermitage and sun avoidance. A little bit of travel, then it's back to work!! I'm very excited and revved up like real-life Hot Wheels® car. My skin may just split from trying to contain this energy! How about another exclamation mark?!?!
Plus, Plus, Plus!
I don't have to return to the clinic for two months. Two Months!!! That's a summer vacation to me. After every week for as far back as I can think right now, two months seems an eternity. An eternity of hoots and hollers!!!
I would be remiss if I didn't take a moment here to thank all of you for your support and friendship, especially Jaymce and the baker. Without your assistance, I still wouldn't be talking, typing or even breathing. I thank you all with my whole heart and being.
Oh my goodness, where do I go and what do I do next?
The world is my oyster and I plan on slurping it up with great gusto.
Somebody get this man a Schlitz!

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Milestone of sorts.

Today marks the end of one year.
One year after I took one too many steps towards the edge of life, one too many away from the oxygen I was being given and one too short to reach a nurse.
I am going to use today to reaffirm my own strength, the benefit of great doctors and nurses and the value of being loved and loving right back.
It seems strange going through this reminiscence without Leslie nearby, as she was the voice for me when I couldn't communicate and the pipeline through whom I received all of your messages of support, love and concern. Although I am currently cancer free now, I can see that my life will always be affected by the nasty disease that took me into a brief death last year, early in the morning on January 15th. This disease has changed the pattern of life that I knew, changed my direction, changed my outlook, and changed nearly everything I thought I knew.
I thought I knew what death was and I was, perhaps, frightened a bit. My experience showed me that there's nothing to worry about, and, as I experienced (or just plain old dreamed up some scenario) that it wasn't my time to go, nor was I anywhere close to my time. So I came back for my things, my friends, my family and for my love.
Take a moment to think about what you thought you knew and throw it out. Just realize that all we have is our connection to each other, our shared experiences and nothing else. The rest of the things that occupy our lives, the TV, the sports, the food, the cars, computers, all the STUFF, don't matter at all. The only thing that matters is our feelings for one another and the time we can spend while we have it. together. When it is gone, this time thing, it's gone. Repairs cannot be made at the rest stop down the road, for all of our roads don't neccesarily follow the same route. Take care in those that matter to you and leave those that don't outside of your mind and hearts.
My heart is currently working pretty well and my blood levels are cooperating with keeping me out of the hospital and away from new blood transfusions. I'm trying to get an approval from the good doctor to return me to work. Think of that; I might just return to work soon! Of course, last fall I kept hearing, "Maybe next month" from my doctor's mouth, so I'm leery of feeling too good about what might happen and I'm trying to concentrate on what is happening. And what is happening is I'm feeling really good. I'm getting sustained good moods, high levels of activity and I can think fairly well without the dreaded 'cancer-brain' swiss cheese effect. Which makes me as good as the average employee. Of course, I fear for an illness setting in and sending me back to the hospital. I have fear about chemicals and fears about hanging out near people that may or may not be sick, I can't tell. Is that a runny nose from the cold weather or a runny nose from a cold? Did they wash their hands? Before or after they shook my hand? Purell never looked so good to me. While I wait for the doctor to give me the 'okay' and while I debate over the next step in my upside-down life, I'm concentrating on making my home neater, brighter and better. This big house is going back on the market in March, as I believe I will be able to handle the weekly showings and the general upkeep that will be needed to keep the curb appeal high. I can also watch the football playoffs with interest because our beloved Bears are involved. And that means there will be group parties with the food, laughter and fun that come along with spending Sunday afternoon with your best peeps...
Now let me tell you, this is not an anniversary to be celebrated, this year after death, no, no, not at all. I could have easily have failed in my attempts to stay alive and not be here writing to you as I am. The true anniversary to be celebrated is the one on which I received my sister Jeanne's stem cells and started life with an entirely new blood system, one that is still in 'baby' mode. (Heck, I've not even gotten a measles or polio shot yet!) That is the day the medical team calls "Day Zero", and my new birthday! Whoo-Hoo, another birthday for me! I don't deserve two, but then, Guy Fiero doesn't deserve to filmed while wielding a knife. So I get two now! This April 27th will mark my new birthday, Year One. I'm thinking a baseball game might be in order. (Big surprise, yeah?) Who knows, maybe I'll have to work that day. Werd.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year!!!

Was that a tough year or what?
A year ago today I went to the hospital to check out a severe pain in my back, thinking that at the very worst I had a broken rib. It never occurred to me that the lump under my ribs was my spleen. It never occurred to me that the pain I felt while breathing was more serious than a bone poking into my lung. Now that would be pretty serious, yes? And who among you thinks that I would go about injuring myself in such a simple way. No, I was having serious issues with organs and blood, all secretive and microscopic. In my defense, the ER doctor was going to let me go home with a handful of Vicodin. I still have my initial diagnosis and prescribed action of Physical Therapy and painkillers, ironic because two weeks later I ceased movement altogether. I would have had a tougher year if I took the first diagnosis given to me. I was saved by the insistence of Leslie, who was my angel and my love. I can never thank her enough for that persistence, but sadly we have gone our own ways now. Cancer, which I was finally diagnosed with a few days later, takes its toll on a lot of things.
Basically, I've spent the whole year fighting cancer. Sometimes more directly than others, but it has been cancer I've been fighting, even when the current diagnosis is pneumonia, the gangster behind the scenes is cancer. My current health situation is "barely healthy", but "holding serve". What this means is my blood levels (WBC, Hemoglobin, Platelets, etc.) are just above the levels to send me back into the hospital to have IVs and hourly testing and observation. It appears that my counts are not getting into normal ranges yet, but they are slowly moving there. Slower than that. Slower still. Almost at a standstill. Little bit faster now.
This year has taught me that stubborness, willpower and patience can get you through some real tough situations. Most of the physical is willpower, which surprised the hell out of me. This year, I've had to do things physically I never even thought about. I never think twice about walking, yet I had to learn to do it all over. Many more things just like that. This year had brought me more tears than I thought I could cry, more pain than I thought I could endure and more love into my heart and life than I certainly deserve and never thought existed in such quantities. This year I've made many new connections and reconnected some old ones. I've gotten so much love this year and it has buoyed me through the extremely difficult times, when darkness seemed destined to take over, always someone stood up and lifted me up.
I thank you all for your support and kindness. I will attempt to repay you with unusually good spirits and appreciation for the life we all share.
This year has given me challenges I didn't foresee and so many, many drugs I never wanted to take. There were some days that I literally told the time according to the pills I was swallowing. At least now, I use a timer to indicate my next dosage. Without work to guide my workweek, all the days seem to run together. I use the weekly pill holder to tell me the days, otherwise I couldn't keep straight if I had taken my dosage for three O'clock when I was in the middle of my 7 O'clock dosage. Very confusing. I think I've got it down now, I hope there's nothing added to my schedule now that is taken more than once a day.
Also this year, I developed a sweet tooth. I cannot recall having one before, even as a child, but now, I go through serious cravings for sweet things. Cookies, candies and chocolate. And have I figured out some of my chocolate problems from a couple of years ago! I'm trying hard to stay out of making of small chocolates, because I don't think I need the pounds added to me. I'm rather liking my weight while it remains under 200#s. I play golf better and my clothes fit better, except for my tux. Oh yeah and that blue blazer. Okay I like how t-shirts and dress shirts fit me.
I learned this year that the patient is in charge of their care. I learned how to talk to doctors, how not to talk to doctors and how to ask for better care. I also learned that nurses are truly underrated and wonderful.
This past year I'd like to place in a lucite box. I'd like to look at it from time to time, but I would rather not live through most of it again. In a lucite box, I could see which parts are loose and fall about, which parts are solid and strong, and all of it never let out again.
Let's make this new year a fantastic one, with smaller challenges and higher rewards.
Let's make this new year one that we want to live over and over again.
Let's make it a year to remember fondly and lovingly.
Let's make it a year of prosperity.
Let's make it everything we want.
Let's beat the challenges.
Who's with me?