Saturday, December 30, 2006

The end of the first act.

Bad stuff first because it's short. It's getting late in an 8 day downcycle and the pain is tapering off. The catfish is really getting used to being a catfish again. Worst part is that 'the twins' still feel like I've been kicked. It's always that way.

And now to the bright spot in our program. This is a significant milestone. Monthly testing shows our progress and sets our milestones for the following month. Here's a recap of the story:

On August 26, 2006 I went to urgent care with an upper respiratory infection. I slid into the abyss over the next weeks, and on September 8, they put me in the hospital.

My September 20th bloodwork showed a very very very sick guy. All of my chemistry was off, my counts were off, and my prognosis looked bad. Certainly the diagnosis wasn't what I expected. Then I went on chemo and the numbers got better, month by month.

Well, now I'm here at the end of December, essentially 100 days from the lowest spot in my physical life, and my blood numbers are VIRTUALLY PERFECT!

Yes, you read that correctly. My blood numbers say I'm a healthy 51 year old. Sure, there's one little count that's fractionally right outside the box, but if you'd seen how far away that number once was, you'd consider it in the box too. In fact, that little number is the "killer number" and it's return to normalcy signals my probable healthy survival.

So, chemo works. Chemo also continues. I don't get to stop doing this crap yet. The doctors tell me we need to keep sledge-hammering the cancer into complete submission with this stuff, so while my numbers might be great right now, if I stop the chemo the cancer will screw up my system again.

So the saga continues, albeit with a significant high point at the end of the first act. I'll talk to my oncologist on Tuesday and lay out a plan. Until then, this is the intermission.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Day 3 of an 8 day down

OMFG this hurts. Everything...... I slept from 4p to 6a this morning and I still feel like rolled up dog doo. Believe me, I'm not trying to whine, but this is amazing. The pain just washes thru me in waves.... I see stars.... I have to stop breathing.... and then my head clears so I can move into a new position at my desk to steady myself for the next wave....

Meanwhile, I'm writing workflow and process documents. Wait, here comes another one....

Sunday, December 24, 2006

11 thousand feet.

I must have caught an updraft in the seagull phase. I'm pretty amped. Still awake at nearly 3 am after a full day of building stuff and working on the future bathroom.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Thal update

In spite of the fact that I'm on the catfish side of the lake, my elimination of Thalidomide from my process has continued to reap rewards in the intellectual department. As each residual molecule of ThalidoCrap leaves my fatty tissues, my brain gets better. I'm starting to remember what people pay me money for. I seem to recall the ability to fix stuff and make stuff happen. Damn it's good to feel that again!

(Technically, I don't know if Thalidomide can be stored in the fatty tissues and if the residuals are washing out of my system on a daily basis. However, whether it's a biological process or a simple "remembering how to think" process, I'm getting better every day. Now if I can just find some way to keep the pain from interfering with the continuity of my thoughts, I'll probably be almost as effective as I was several months ago.)

Sunday, December 17, 2006


It's day four of the seagull phase. Really feeling a bit "eaglish" today. See, four days ago, I also quit taking my Thalidomide (Thalmid). The results have been amazing. I can actually THINK again. My inertial guidance system has returned from the dead. I don't stagger. I know where I'm going. I remember things.

Thalidomide has kept me stoned for three months. THREE MONTHS! It's not even the part of the chemo that does the work. It's merely a mild booster..... and it's not worth it. Not at all. At least not for me. I have to be able to use my brain in my job. I have to be able to plan. It's not cool for everyone at work to think I have a drinking problem from the stagger and the weaving.

How in hell have I been driving a car? Jeepers that scares me. Four days off the stuff and I rode my motorcycle today (with some ice on the road - determination sometimes makes me stupid - not the Thalidomide's fault).

Anyway, no more Thal for me. None. Hell, it's not even a fun buzz, it's just debilitating and mildly depressing.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Seagull is sitting on the surface.
Catfish is nipping at my toes.

(Yeah, I know seagulls are seldom ever seen where there are catfish, and catfish seldom come to the surface to feed, but it's a metaphor dammit!)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

If you've been counting.....

.....I'm in day 3 of the Catfish Chronicles. Cyclic misery eventually becomes customary.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

No quacks

I didn't kill any ducklings today. In fact, I was pretty mellow (except in traffic. Seattle drivers are sometimes amazingly clueless. They tend to think that turnsignals grant instant access to the next lane, impending collision or not.)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A million dollars.

Went back on the 'roids at about 6:30 this morning. As of about noon, all pain was gone. Gout was gone. The world is a colorful and wonderful place.

Tomorrow I may want to slay ducklings just for the fun of it, but today is great. (Don't worry. I have no access to ducklings. I used that sentence purely for imagery.)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Documenting the downhill, part 8

It wasn't too bad a day physically. The catfish was just catfishing. Unfortunately it turned out to be a 13 hour workday with dinner at Taco Hell. I'm freaking exhausted.

The doctor's appointment this afternoon showed positive results. In the full spectrum of blood tests, there is only one item that's out of the norm. Yes folks JUST ONE. Unfortunately it's the "total protein" count, and thankfully it's just marginally high. We'll get a composite report in a few days that distinguishes the good proteins from the bad and we can compare those numbers to the baseline.... but it looks like I'm virtually healthy! At the end of this month of treatment, we'll consider dropping my chemo dose to more tolerable levels.

I'm quite relieved. Now I'm going to bed.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Documenting the downhill, part 7

Ate a huge amount of sugar today. The endorphin rush seems to help. Bloody noses are increasing, just like they did during the previous 8 day downslide. Other than that, I'm just starting to settle in at the bottom of the lake.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Documenting the downhill, part 6

Lazy day. No real motivation to do much. Just puttered around and goofed off. Catfished.

Documenting the downhill, part 5

This is actually yesterday's report. Went to the motorcycle show Saturday morning, picked up a free freezer locally, and then puttered around the house all day. All the walking and activity caused some peripheral neuropathy in the form of cramping and charley horses in my feet, calves, and hips. Gout is returning to my right foot. Bone pain is pretty consistent in my torso. Nothing insurmountable.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Documenting the downhill, part 4

Day four. More bone pain. Some water retention/swelling. Emotionally more stable (I think).

I feel like a bird that gets turned into a catfish every 4 days (and then back again 4 or 8 days later).

The catfish understands what it means to be a catfish. It's dark, murky, risky, and there's pressure everywhere. But that's the life of a catfish, so the catfish goes on.

The bird knows what it means to be a bird. It's light, airy, risky, and the weather can change at a moment's notice. That's the life of the bird, so the bird goes on.

The difficulty comes when the bird starts turning into the catfish or the catfish anticipates being a bird. See, it's not all that bad being a catfish because, after all, you're a catfish! But it's nothing compared to being a bird. Had the catfish never been a bird, it's life would be fine. Unfortunately the catfish gets to be a bird every 4 days and now it knows what it means to be both a catfish and a bird. The bird part thinks the catfish part sucks!

See, I was in the bottom of the lake in the ooze just ten weeks ago, so being a catfish would be a perfectly acceptable condition for me now if that was the limit of my expectation. Oddly, the "active ingredient" in my chemo also turns me into a bird (an emotionally unstable bird, but a bird none the less). While I'm not the high-flier I was last year, I'm at least a seagull and that's way better than being a catfish in my book.

I wanna be a bird again. Five more days of this catfish thing.