Tuesday, May 12, 2015

PET/CT Scan Update

On Monday, May 4th, 2015 I had another PET/CT scan for multiple reasons.  One, my radiation therapy doctor wanted to see how I was doing, because if the cancer came back, now was the time to do something about it.  I got the results on May 11th, and with one tiny exception I'm free of cancer.  The exception is the salivary gland on the right side, which shows an abnormality.  The sawbones thinks this is due to being bombarded with more radiation in 7 weeks than most folks see in a lifetime, and so is not worried.  So neither am I.

I'm still recovering from the treatment.  My sense of taste is about 75% normal.  Beef, for instance, doesn't taste good to me.  Ice cream doesn't taste like much of anything, and I can't taste the hot fudge on a sundae at all.  I suffer from a lack of saliva (dry mouth), so bread or bread like products are inedible for me.  This includes crackers, cookies, cake, pie or anything remotely similar.  I couldn't choke down a saltine cracker to save my life, and pills are extremely difficult to swallow - although I've learned that taking pills with milk makes it easier.

I'm cold most of the time; it's hard to stay warm, even at 70 degrees.  I suffer a nagging backache and general muscle aches that occasionally make me reach for the pain meds.  And that's all the bad news.

The good news is that I can go out dancing with Main Lady, I can do housework and general housekeeping chores.  I have a circle of friends that are glad I'm on the sunny side of the lawn, and I'm able to use my experience to give other people a little encouragement.

And that's the latest.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015


Yesterday (May 4th) was Star Wars Day.  May the fourth be with you.

Man oh man, is that bad.  Today is a little better, and as the day grows older I'm predicting it will be a lot better.  Today is May 5th, you see.

May the fifth be with you.

Happy daze!

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Local Bird Cage Liner Does It Again

Our local scandal sheet is the Toledo Blade, a newspaper who's flair for creative journalism occasionally reminds me of News of the World. This is one such occasion.

Friday, March 20, 2015


Spring has sprung.  The current temperature is 30°, and the weather nit-wit predicts a high of 54° and a low of 42°.  This is not the new normal.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

New Book Announcement: Aviatrix: First Woman Pilot for Hughes Airwest

You know what really pisses me right off?  Sexual harassment.  When I started teaching ballroom dancing back in 1973, I was sexually harassed by the gay guys that worked in the studio.  I was 21 at the time; what did I know about gay men and harassment?  Nothing.

Getting right to the point here, a lady I know has just released a new book on Amazon that's worth reading.  Aviatrix: First Woman Pilot for Hughes Airwest by Mary Shipko is an autobiography about her career as a commercial pilot, overcoming discrimination and dealing with sexual harassment in the airline business back in the bad old days.  This one is a good read.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Cancer Recovery: Week 17

This may be the end of it.  I had a PET/CT scan along with a flexible fiberoptic laryngoscopy (they shove a narrow tube up your honker to look at your throat) which concluded that:
  • The tongue is clean.  No cancer on the tongue.
  • The lymph node on the right side of my neck may be cancerous.
  • There is a shadow of some kind on one lung, which the doctor says is nothing to worry about.
So it's off to get a biopsy of the lymph node, then wait around for two days for the results.  Today the results came in.


So I am now officially cancer free.

Now all I have to do is wait for the deleterious effects of the radiation and chemotherapy to wear off, and I'll be back at my usual bar stool.

Thanks to all of you for helping me through this.  When I was at my worst, I'd re-read your comments and my spirits were lifted.  That helped.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Cancer Recovery: Week 16

Here's the latest health news for those of you bored enough to read it.

I had a Positron Emission Tomography - Computed Tomography (PET/CT) scan last week, and the results are in.  Back in June of 2013 cancerous lesions were discovered on the base of my tongue.  These cancerous lesions have vanished and the tongue is completely clean.  The lymph node on the right side of my neck is still questionable; it may or may not be full of cancer, so I'm having a biopsy done on the 21st at the uncivilized hour of 7:30 AM.  The biopsy involves the CT machine, needles and drugs that make getting dressed up in an angle robe, tying a bedpan to your head and riding around on a gurney playing an imaginary game of polo seem completely normal.  I suppose this is not the worst experience possible, but given a choice I think I'm a little old for polo.

If the lymph node is cancerous, then it's off to surgery to have the fiendish thing removed.  With a knife.  I'm told this operation is not a walk in the park, but compared to many of the other things the surgeon does, it's pretty simple.  I'll be in the hospital 2-3 days.

Then there's the lung.  The PET/CT scan revealed a dark shadow at the bottom of my left lung.  I'm told that this may be nothing at all, or it may be a train wreck with attendant haz-mat spill, or something in between.  No one can tell exactly what it is without use of a knife on yours truly, which I'm trying to avoid.  The future is very uncertain here, and there is a likelihood that whatever it is might just go away on its own.

The good news is that ever since I had my gastrostomy tube (g-tube, used for feeding nutrients directly into the stomach) removed, the chronic nausea has vanished.  Not being sick to my stomach all the time has made it easier to eat, so my weight has stabilized around 221, down from my original 305.  My doctor says he wants the weight to remain stable for four to six weeks, then I can redouble the efforts for weight loss again.

Another problem is that I can't sleep nights.  I stare at the ceiling, toss and turn, drop off for maybe an hour before I wake up again, usually at 3:00 AM.  Nice, huh?  So it's off to my primary care physician I go, where I'm given a prescription for Ativan and instructed to get a blood test on my way out.  You see, back in June I was also diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, probably brought on by obesity.  I got the news this morning that I no longer have type 2 diabetes (or any other type), most likely due to weight loss.  So I'm happy about that.

My last problem involves my gall bladder, which is malfunctioning.  The surgeon who discovered the problem wants to operate, but since I'm not feeling any ill effects from the busted gall bladder I nixed the surgery.  My radiologist agrees with this - if it ain't broke, don't fix it.  So the gall bladder can stay like it is and I'll be fine with that.

And that's it.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Cancer Recovery: Week 9

I haven’t been posting much lately because the effort of typing is prohibitive.   Instead of typing everything I now have a copy of Dragon Naturally Speaking.  It’s not perfect but it’s better than typing by hand.

My health and well-being vary from day to day.  Today is one of my better days but I don’t know anything about tomorrow.  I have an appointment in a couple of weeks to get my feeding tube removed.  My doctor tells me this will resolve most if not all of my nausea problems. 

Last Wednesday found me in the emergency room again.  I was rehydrated and generally treated poorly.  My electrolytes were all okay with the exception of potassium.  I now have potassium pills that I’m taking.  

Believe me when I say that the cure is worse than the disease.  I have it on good authority that it will take one year for me to recover completely.  I have a strong feeling that it’s going to be a long year.  So I’ll make use of the time as best I can and continue writing.

My thanks to all of you for your prayers and positive thoughts.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Cancer Recovery: Week 5

I spend my time eating through my feeding tube and trying to find something interesting on the idiot box.  Neither is much fun, but life took a turn for the worse last Monday.

I'm a lazy person by nature.  I'm suffering from exhaustion which exacerbates this condition, but that's neither here nor there.  A month or so ago I decided to see how much pain was being masked by my morphine, and so I skipped my morning pill.  By noon I had my answer - a lot of pain was being masked - and so took my morning Morphine pill and a shot of my emergency booster morphine liquid.  So far, so good.

Last week I repeated this experiment and discovered I no longer needed the morphine and so stopped taking it.  My logic is that if I'm not in pain, why take the meds - right?  So I stopped.

This was a mistake.  Big time.

The nausea got worse, then it got a lot worse.  I became light headed and my hands and feet felt numb (I'm told this is called neuropathy).  Then the vomiting started.  I called the emergency number I'd been provided with and spent two and a half hours playing telephone tag with non-medical personnel who individually assured me that someone would be calling me back.  I finally got the message and dropped into the ER, there to saddle them with my symptoms.  Thankfully I was able to get Main Lady to drive, as Mom does not do well driving at night and her head is full of dust bunnies.

So we get to the ER and taken to a room where I'm eventually given anti-nausea medications.  In the middle of all this I get asked the standard questions about what I've ingested and when, and I let it slip that it's been two days since I took the morphine.  Main Lady jumps on it, beating the ER doc by a mile.

"Jack, you're suffering opiate withdrawal.  You can't just go cold turkey on an opiate; you'll get sick." 

So that was that.  I saw Dr. Deathray the next day who set up a program to taper off, which is what I'm doing.  For her part, Main Lady is a licensed clinical psychologist who used to work for the State, and so has seen a lot of this type of thing.

There should be a warning about this stuff.


Friday, October 31, 2014

Cancer: Recovery Week 3

Monday night was devoted to nausea and vomiting. I flashed until I couldn't stand up, and let me tell you there is nothing worse than vomiting up the artificial food I have to eat via my feeding tube followed by dry heaves.

Tuesday my radiation oncologist (Dr. Rubin) stuck a fiber optic tube up my nose to look at my throat. This procedure is no fun, by the way. He followed this examination by trying to find the tumor in my neck that had started the whole business, and declared the tumor to be gone. 

Result: I am now cancer free.

Dr. Rubin has no idea why I'm still sick and unable to retain food. I explain that I'm depressed and need some sort of anti-depressant, which Dr. Rubin cheerfully prescribes. Everyone in the know says the pills will help, but I'm doubtful.

Wednesday my chemo therapy oncologist (Dr. Muler) ordered hydration and 2 grams of magnesium. Dr. Muler thinks the problem is with the tube feeding and blames the dietician, Marcia, for my problems.
Marcia changed me to a brand new artificial food and slowed the intake rate to practically nil. Marcia wondered if I might have picked up a nasty little bug from the hospital, which is very likely. My immune system is compromised.

Thursday I begin to feel a little better and spend the day eating from my feeding tube and watching The Sopranos on DVD. I'm depressed. I force myself to get cleaned up and think positive thoughts.

Friday, today, I'm fighting off depression with everything I've got.

The bottom line is that both doctors are good at their profession, yet neither one can tell me why I'm so sick.  I'm exhausted all the time, I'm almost always nauseated and I'm depressed.  I don't see that there is much of anything worth living for.

Still and all, I keep marching.  One foot in front of the other, one hour at a time.  I hope the scenery changes.