Tag Archives: chemotherapy

The wait

Last Saturday I went to get my CAT scan. It was all routine, drinking a ton of oral contrast, walking into the room, having an IV line hooked up to a vein, getting a syringe test, then a water test with the mean machine and finally, after alignment, the poison and the scan. The poison wasn’t bad, I was able to handle it quite well, but it really feels it’s beyond control when it enters the body. The feeling that the body warms up, heats and burns from the inside out, and the flavor and smell of the drug flood the senses and then it’s luck, because it feels nothing can save me. As the body processes the poison, it feels I’m saved. This time I had to go alone, my wife was taking a class in a neihhboring city, but I felt confident. I packed a sandwich, because I had been fasting for the scan. When it was finished, I asked the nurse if i could take a picture of the machine. She started to say that it wasn’t allowed as i took a couple of pictures. It was not a question, I was just being polite. 

On Monday I saw the oncologist. He said we had to remove the lump to have the lab say exactly what it is, and he said other similar lumps had been found in the back of my abdomen. That’s it, no more details. He gave me the number of a surgeon and we left. Arriving home, I now went to see the reports from the scan. It said a lot, but the important stuff was that the lump in the neck has a high probability of being malignant, and the nodes in the back of the abdomen have increased in size since the last scan, in September, and are considered a progression of the disease. Liver and lungs are clear. 

A day later, or two, we went to see the surgeon. We really liked the guy. He explained the surgery is simple and that it won’t take more than two hours at the very most. He explained the risks and he said he’d work under general anesthesia. He said I should be ok to leave the hospital within a few hours, but since insurance is involved, I’d have to stay a day, because of the policy. He filled the paperwork and gave it to us. We bought a couple of club sandwiches down in the cafeteria, and took them home. We were hungry and the sandwiches were great. They packed a bunch of jalapeños in a paper cup and they made everything a ton better. I haven’t been eating spicy for a long time because my tummy is kind of frail, but when I taste it, it’s like a burst of life!

I sent the paperwork to the insurance company and the authorization should be in around the middle of next week, and the surgery is already scheduled for Friday. 

Since I saw things might be becoming difficult, to avoid saying “nasty” or “desperate”, I did go ahead and ordered a few books from Amazon. Two for my dad, and a few for me: one about the philosophy of happiness, one about cosmology, one about Turner and his paintings, and leaning more to the ones about ships and the sea, one about a transplant surgeon, one about submarines in WWII, and Miss Norma’s book, this 90 year old lady that when diagnosed with cancer, she skipped treatment and went to travel cross country for a year with her son until her health failed, and every single day on the road she shared beautiful, inspiring and comforting pictures of her enjoying life to the fullest, always all smiles. My books should be delivered one day before surgery, and with luck, they will go to the hospital with me. 

All this has left me thinking a lot. I feel I have a very high potential to be heading to a death sentence. I feel great. I have been enjoying my days so much now. In the mornings, heading out to work from my dad’s house (I’m taking care of him while he recovers from treatment), I smell the cool, moist air filled with sweet orange juice from the stand by the avenue, I see the clouds, a very light shade of gray mixed with warm tones from the early morning sun, and, going the opposite way of morning commuters, I sit on the half empty bus, happy to be running the three stations to his home quickly and effortlessly. I stop and feel the taste of my food. Man, it’s so good! I usually pack scrambled eggs for breakfast, a little rice, some fresh papaya juice, cheese, cookies, yoghurt.  I consciously observe all I am enjoying at the moment, and I feel happy for it. Yes, nobody wants to die, and I am no exception, but we all will. There’s not much of a choice. We don’t want to die young, but we don’t want to die old and frail, we don’t want to die in pain or sadness, but we want to take the time to say goodbye and finish important business, and we don’t want to die in a state of dementia where we don’t even know what’s going on. So, I think I will take my process as if it is the best and make the most of the grim situation, and enjoy the ride like Miss Norma while it lasts. 

Still, we have to see the lab results and hear what the doctors have to say about it and the options I have. Maybe I am worrying way ahead of time. With some luck it will be like that, but here we don’t get so lucky. I haven’t waken up to realize it was just a bad dream, and it’s been about four years since this all started, so I’m starting to consider that it is real. Oh well…


Almost done, first half

I saw my oncologist on Monday. I was expecting just one more day under those extra poisonous Xeloda pills. He said I had a full week to go “just like radiation”. I said that I had already had 125 pills and I had two weeks of radiation to go. Clearly the result was that my count was bad, he was right and he triumphantly said “you owe me a coke!” as we walked back from radiology to the examination room.
So up to this point I needed one week of poison and one of radiation. I was happy I’d be done much sooner than I expected!

I was running out of those expensive pills. My girlfriend had got a set for two days from a colleague. One of the awesome lot reasons to have a biologist girlfriend that works doing research in the national university here. She sent me a message she was to arrive at my home while I drive back from the hospital. I stopped to buy a 1300 USD box of pills. The bank rejected the transaction saying it was suspicious. Quite suspicious, I’d say! I went home. I called the bank and they removed the hold. My girlfriend arrived. She was very tired. I drove off with her, stopped for gas, stopped for pills and had a good meal. I ate like crazy. She ate most of hers and I finished what she left. Then I took her home. I always carry a pillow for her. She fell asleep and I drove carefully to avoid waking her up. Dropped her off and drove back. I was very tired and it was very late, but we had eaten well and she had had a good and comfortable ride back home.

My next radiation day, my radiologist showed up to see me and follow up, and she said that instead of 30 sessions, we’d have 28, as the dose was heavier. I was very happy! She said we’d be done on Monday, one day before I calculated! Then I counted fingers and realized that couldn’t be. I was to finish before Monday. It would be Saturday.

Last night I was feeling bad. My tummy felt just like when the guts are coming to a complete, painful and miserable stop. I had nothing for dinner. Some tea, just that. I went to bed early. All night my guts worked and I emptied my ileostomy bag three times. Some pain was there, but not like when I landed in the ER. Way far from that. Today I ate little, mostly liquids and the softest stuff. I feel it is improving. I will lose weight, but as long as I stay away from the ER, it’s a price I’m willing to pay.
Weekend is coming. I will get to spend time with my loving girlfriend and it will be a good reward after a difficult week.
Everybody stay healthy and feel good!

A good first week!

Last Monday I was very nervous. I started radiation and chemo pills. I felt the side effects before starting, and that told me that I was going crazy, that I should judge well things and avoid thinking silly weird thoughts. Radiation hasn’t been bad, and they say it’s until the second week that it starts to feel. The pills have been mild so far. I suppose the effects add up and I will eventually feel something, but not now.
This morning I went for blood tests, and I am very happy. This is the first time in about seven years that I don’t fail hemoglobin! I scored a normal value! Iron and ferritin look good as well.
I took my radiation dose and I am glad that the weekend is here. No radiation or pills, just time with my girlfriend, a 5km jog, time on my own and some rest. I am not anemic anymore!!

I am happy!

Hello, Xeloda!

Today was my first day with radiation and chemotherapy. Half an hour after breakfast I took the three pills of pure poison and began consciously checking how I was feeling until I forgot. Then, a few hours later, I left with my dad on a taxi to get the radiation. It turned out simple as they had told me. They had said, you won’t feel a thing the first day, and it was true. In the afternoon I went to the supermarket to buy sandals, baking soda, a scale and supplies to take care of my chemoed body and my nutrition. I ate enthusiastically today. It’s just the first day, but a good start and I am wishing the whole treatment could be like today!

The time has come

After weeks waiting for those idiots approving medical procedures in MetLife, they have finally decided the paperwork is complete and good, and I have the ok to start chemotherapy and radiation for whatever cells dared to remain in my body after my colon was removed in July. I feel somewhat relieved that everything is ready, and I also feel nervous about what I am going to live over the next six months. I feel good. If I were in bad shape, medical stuff can take place without a lot of complaints, but I feel ok now. I try to see it as an investment in my future. Radiation will burn and cook my ass for a month, and the chemicals will be killing cells for half a year.

I say, radiation + strong toxic chemicals will make a superhero out of me. Watch for justice being made and a better world over the next few weeks. Villains will be beaten, punished and jailed. Be it common crooks or your nasty politicians. Families will have a break. Streets will be safe for the common citizen. We will all live in peace and happiness.

Said that, my secret plans are to keep learning to write programs, make a few cool machines like a simple robot arm, play my harmonica, keep working from home, keep reading, keep eating (man, I need to gain weight!!), keep jogging and prepare to go back to my house.

I also plan to keep being the biggest smile in the oncology unit.