Saturday, April 12, 2014

Lovely weather we're having...

as thoughts of an old Louis Armstrong track play in the back of my mind...

The last few days have finally seen me winning my battle with that last round of pneumonia. 4 rounds of antibiotics and, after a visit to the cancer doctor last week, his suggestion of a taper dose of prednisone seems to given my body the "oomph" it needed to fight back...this time. As always, foreshadowings of what lies ahead linger, but it's warm outside and I can get out and about again (with assistance) and it's time to enjoy things for a while!

My sons both approach the mid-point of a "normal" life span this month; in their mid-30's, I couldn't be prouder of both of them or the choices they've made in life or their families. Next weekend (weather permitting) will be another of those family gatherings to celebrate their birthdays, along with a nephew who graduates college this year. The years seem to leap by now! My oldest grandson got his "learner's permit" to drive the other day and has been texting me all about the Porsche he has his eye on for his first car...a bit poignant for me because I'd planned last year to buy a set of frame rails and start building something I'd have been putting a body on this summer with his help. Instead I've sent my last stash of magazines and parts catalogs to him because they're a bit hard to look through. I'm still reading "Hot Rod Deluxe" (reprints of things from the "old days" and ones found from then) and a couple of aviation magazines, but much more "then" than "now" things. There is more than enough in the news for now and when I want a break the NASA channel is nice!

As I write, the Barrett-Jackson Palm Beach auction is playing; it always "knocks me out" to see the cars from the high school parking lot, that the neighbors drove or things that Dad and I worked on selling for multiples of what my house is worth!

Dottie gave her notice at work; partly because she's tired of bringing home "bugs" that may or may not be part of what have been "getting to" me as well as fear of bringing home one that really will; partly because there are probably 3 or 4 months of time left that I'll be able to do things before we won't be able to take enough oxygen for that and I become housebound, at which point I won't be able to stay alone anyway. If I can stay healthy we plan to have a fun summer until that time comes. We've bought a "shell" or "cap" for my pickup so we can load up all my accoutrements and perhaps slip away for a few days at a time; beyond that there's going to be as much family and grandkid time as we can manage!

I'm still going to pop in here from time to time, but with her home 24/7 and her "anti-social-media" stance, I'll be looking over my shoulder, lol!

Something that I came across the other day, as I was scanning things...


I'd been taking pictures of the boys and Dottie and she picked up my 35mm. She says I was making comments about her abilities with it...it wouldn't surprise me, I guess!

I hope you each are having a wonderful spring and that summer is kind to all of you!

alan

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Finally! A hint of green outside!

I only wish my lungs weren't so jealous that they'd decided they needed a bit of green of their own! I'm in the 2nd week of a battle against a "mild" round of pneumonia they caught in a chest x-ray I had done two weeks ago tomorrow. Tomorrow I'm in for bloodwork and another x-ray and, since there's still a bit of color coming up, a refill on that antibiotic.

We had a few days of 70's last week, but then dropped back into the snowflakes yesterday. They're saying we finally have a warm weekend coming up so maybe we can finally get the front hub put in the Malibu and get it back on the road. The list of things I'm unable to just "go do" now rather irks me sometimes, not only because I can't, but because I have to ask others to, be it my wife or my son. I've had to concede though, because a few weeks ago when "we" put the car up to diagnose it, I got under it at one point (which was easy enough) and getting back up took about 15 minutes as I sat up and recovered, then turned over onto my hands and knees and recovered, then straightened up and recovered, then finally stood up and recovered before I managed to walk 4 feet back to the lawn chair.

So from here on I read the manuals and "supervise" and perhaps hand off a few tools, but my days on the creeper are done, lol! I now know how a turtle feels when he's on his back!

I finally got far enough ahead on last year's leftover medical bills to update the scanner software I needed to make it work with Windows 8 and have been scanning my way through the family archives these past few weeks, trying to get them digitized and backed up along with "cleaning up" a select few in Photoshop as I do. I'm starting with the slides because they're easier than the negatives-at least they're all a uniform size, though I do have some 6x6 ones running around somewhere after I finish the 35mm. Film will be fun when I get there-there's everything from 110 Instamatic stuff running around to 8x10 transparencies. I'm rather curious to see what the meg size on that one will be...

May life be kind to each of you!

alan

Monday, March 03, 2014

Crossroads...

I spent the weekend at one...sadly I wasn't smart enough to bring anything to "conjure" with.

I saw the radiologist on Friday. He seemed to think I was a great candidate for stereotactic radiation, though there was a "small" chance I might react to it, a slight chance that with them doing 5 doses because the tumor is behind my rib that the rib might become brittle and be easily broken or "cracked". I told him that life wasn't exactly easy right now, and that I couldn't imagine what it would be like if I lose any more lung capacity.

He said he would contact the pulmonologist this morning (her first morning back after a spring vacation) and would call me on Tuesday.

After telling both boys what was going on, I did a bit of research on line and found a case history of someone they tried this on in 2008 who was in the very early stages of IPF. He had been through chemo, his lungs were just beginning to show the scarring from the fibrosis and he seemed fine after they did their radiation treatment. When they did the follow up he had developed radiologically induced pneumonia and that kicked off the fibrosis; he went from not being on oxygen at all to where I am now.

So I didn't have a good feeling about it after reading all that!

This morning when the phone rang, Dottie was getting ready for work. I was still in bed, only vaguely noting the ring and that she had answered it. A few minutes later I heard her in the bedroom doorway as I turned over and snuggled back down under the blankets (it was below zero here this morning).

She said the phone call was the radiologist; he had called the pulmonary doctor and she told him "hell no he couldn't do radiation on my lungs", it would kill me.

So now their consensus is that I should go back in 3 months and have another P.E.T. scan so they can figure out if the cancer is spreading again or not.

Though life isn't "easy" at this point, I'm not really ready to "give up". I do dread where it all goes from here...

In the meantime, I've done what I need to this morning and I'm going to heat up some chili for lunch, then crawl under a blanket on the couch and watch a movie or play a video game. While I dealt with the first of the month stuff this morning I caught up on the latest on Ukraine/Crimea/Russia and it's time to escape for a while!

I hope each of you are warm, and that the week is kind!

alan

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The pendulum keeps swinging...

Frozen weeks, then a few days of warm; good news, then not so good; the same with my days...good ones, then not so good. Sometimes it even breaks down into hours! Kind of like letting someone else pick your music...

I set up a Pandora account years ago but never really used it. The blue-ray player we bought is a "smart" one, so it will play that, along with NPR stuff and You Tube (been spending a lot of time in Jay Leno's garage lately). I set up a channel of swing stuff starting off with some Erskine Hawkins and it swings along nicely until they decide to throw in something in the same tempo but "urban". I'm not sure if they're just checking to see if I'm awake or what!

One of Dottie's sisters is flying in tonight and Bill, Laura and Liam are driving in from Colorado tomorrow because John and Noel are renewing their wedding vows this weekend for their 15th anniversary. They're also having the "big do" they didn't have a chance to back when they started out. I used to feel guilty when Dad and I were photographing those that Dottie hadn't had a chance at one, but she's assured me enough times through the years that she wouldn't have wanted one even if it was offered that I finally believe her. Our little ceremony in the judge's study in San Diego seems to have worked out pretty well!

I had my visit with the oncologist the other day. He said that with the tumor being the only thing active now, chemo would be too hard on me physically for what return there might be on it. If it wasn't for the fibrosis, they would do radiation to kill what's left of it and then wait to see if it comes back somewhere else.

There is some new technology that targets radiation to a very small area and he is going to discuss with the pulmonologist whether that would still be too much risk for what lungs I have left. The other option is doing nothing and scanning again in a few months to see what's changed.

So another round of doctor's visits while we all come to a concensus...

Meanwhile I keep peeking at the news and watching the Ukraine burn and Syria crumble while those who profess to run the world march to their own drummers! In the idealism of my youth I truly believed that when I got to this age people would have outgrown the idea of killing those they disagreed with...that talking would be something more than a strategic pause while you repositioned or resupplied or tried to gain some other advantage.

Meanwhile we're selling aircraft carriers for a penny for scrap and China's building new ones!

May life be kind to each of you!

alan









Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Testing...testing...

2 weeks ago I finally saw the pulmonologist for the first time since August. When they tried to do their pulmonary function test my O2 numbers dropped so low they decided not to, and sent me directly in to see her. Since I hadn't heard from the oncologist about scheduling the cancer scan (that would also show the fibrosis in my lungs) she did it, along with an ultrasound EKG of my hear and an ultrasound of my legs to check for clots, which would account for the swelling in my legs and ankles.

She also started me on Lasix to clear the fluid from my system. That seems to have helped as the swelling is almost non-existent now, and though it hasn't helped my lungs (she had thought perhaps there was fluid putting pressure on them as well) it has made me feel better overall. I've also dropped some inches and some weight, so we're continuing with that. It takes about an hour to "kick in" once I take it and then I spend the next 4 or 5 hours running to the bathroom every 20-30 minutes, but life could be worse!

The P.E.T. scan shows that the tumor in my lung is still about the same size it was in the last scan and still active cancer, but it hasn't grown. The 3 lymph nodes no longer show any cancer at all!

She suggested I try and contact the oncologist and see what he plans at this point; perhaps a continuation of the chemo, but at a less frequent interval. He's out of town this week, so I'll be setting something up with him next week. If I continue with chemo that will mean getting a port implanted in my chest, as I can't do any more PICC lines because of the adhesive problems. The dermatitis I already had has been aggravated by the chemo to the point that even Neosporin blistered me last week-not from the antibiotic itself, but the "base" they mixed it into.

I see her again in two weeks to see how things are progressing.

When I saw her last, I wouldn't have bet money on making it through spring; I feel enough better at this point that I figure I'll make it through the F1 season and perhaps the football season as well (I'm still hoping for another Chiefs Super Bowl win before I "get out of here"), which means I'll make another holiday season as well. This last one was kind of hard, because I was pretty sure I wouldn't. I wrapped all of Liam's gifts myself, not that it would mean anything to him, but...

I also made a point of working my way through all my favorite holiday movies...shared a few of them with those who were passing through as well...spent lots of time with family for both the holidays and my birthday...

And then I hung onto the Christmas tree until last week, when I finally let Dottie take it down before we set the house on fire somehow. It was pretty brittle by then, though still green. A few years ago she found some things that I had actually made back in kindergarten and she's used them each year since; she had me write on the back of them this year, and we marked some of the others we've bought in our travels as to when and where we got them.





So that's about it from here for now...

I hope the New Year is being wonderful to each of you!

alan

Monday, December 23, 2013

An early Merry Christmas!

     Billie Holiday swinging in the background...the lights on the tree twinkling...totes of wrapping paper and ribbon gathered to work on getting more of things ready. The majoirity of the shopping was done a week ago, despite me not being able to get "out and about" like I would have before. Bill's dog is curled up at my feet and checking the door everytime he hears a noise to see if Bill, Laura and Liam have come back from her parents. They got here on Thursday and it's been wonderful getting to know Liam as well as seeing his parents again for the first time in a couple of months.

     In a few minutes when I actually settle in to wrap I'll be slipping "White Christmas" into the DVD player. We watched "Holiday Inn" a few days ago-both are favorites of mine, with "Holiday Inn" actually getting an extra half a star for the music for all the other holidays that echoes around in my empty head at the appropriate times.

     My favorite song from "White Christmas" (other than the title track, done in both movies and perhaps more wonderful in the first) is "Count Your Blessings". I've always heard that in my head when I was depressed, or times were rough and it's always managed to change my perspective. This year, it's especially poignant.

     Among those blessings, I count each of you who have found your way here through the years. The ones that still visit now are especially dear right now! Your comments; your kind words; they've meant so much through all of this!

     May your Holidays find each of you near those you love and if you can't be together physically, may you find some other way to be close to each other through this magical season!

    Merry Christmas to each of you and the Happiest of New Years as well!

alan

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Letting sleeping dogs lie...

kind of sums things up around here!

They still haven't scheduled the P.E.T. scan because they're trying to give the chemo some time to max its result. I cancelled the pulmonologist appointment accordingly, though I'm beginning to regret it a bit. I'm on my 3rd round of antibiotic, having changed drugs for this 3rd round and finally between it and Mucinex it seems perhaps, grudglingly, the bug is giving up.

I've been keeping better track of my O2 numbers this past week as well and would almost bet money they've slipped a bit again. I drop just wandering around the house now with the concentrator set on numbers that used to let me walk at a fast pace on the treadmill. If I don't concentrate on my breathing I drop to a point that is scary low-down in the 70's. I'm using a shower chair now because that's the time I drop the worst, even with the concentrator maxed out.

So I'm starting to think in months now, rather than years...

Despite Kansas City falling into the "deep freeze" of late, things are coming together nicely for the holidays! A good thing, as I'm not up to shopping like I used to. The box to Vermont is gone and a lot of the shopping for here is done now; we're still waiting on lists from a few hold-outs to finish things. We haven't gotten our tree yet, but will in the next few days. I'm also hoping to get a new glasses prescription as I haven't had new ones in 6 years and my reading is starting to suffer from that along with some badly placed scratches on my old ones.

What I've been lacking there I've been making up watching TV as I've had to spend a lot of time on the couch this past week due to some swelling in my left lower leg (jokes of tapping it didn't make Dottie laugh at all). A few weeks ago I picked a Roku box (internet television running off my wireless router) and between the free outlets available and the others I've spent a lot of hours watching things from it. Now that the Chiefs game is over and I can take my eyes away to fix some lunch, I'll be moving there in just a bit to either watch Dawn French or Chaplin-I haven't quite made my mind up yet. I've also spent some time watching the NASA channel (free) and actually got to see them discussing the delivery vehicle for one of Bill's projects!

Thank you all for the kind words and encouragement each time you come here. I know it isn't easy when I don't sugarcoat what's going on but life is a bit too short for that anymore!

I hope the holidays find each of you somewhere wonderful with those you want gathered near!

May the world be kind to each of you!

alan