For Thirty Seven Years The Luckiest Woman In These Parts

It is now mid afternoon of our Anniversary.  Vanessa presented me with a bottle of Jack, card and batteries for my new putting machine and I broke down.  I just felt so devastated.  I have given all my machoism over to the animal.  I can no longer plow ahead assured of the second wind kicking in.  There is no second wind.  The animal has attacked our anniversary. 
I saved some egghead work for today doing roi calculations on a proposal.  Took up the better part of six hours but it is done and ready to present next week. Tomorrow will be the last real business day of the year.
Four PM and I am marginal but we are off for a night to celebrate.  Day turned to evening and I held up through Kohls  where Vanessa motored me around in one of their virus bacteria laden complementary wheelchairs.  Sam-s and I did well with the cart and motored about the store, using the facility only once.  In another defeat to my machoman self image the cart had a very large purse in it.  No way this could be confused with a man bag.  It is a purse, and it is in the cart, and I am pushing the cart.  May be the first time this has happened but I needed the cart to lean on and she saw the opportunity to take advantage of me and get some payback.  The war of the sex’s.  Clearly the purse thing was more than a purse thing.  We had been through it uncountable times.  I simply would not push a purse.  I did not think she needed more than a wallet.  It certainly was not fair to have Van push a cart so full the wheels went in to a death nell chorus as she leaned into it and pushed it down the aisle.  Many times I was there and willing to push, if only the purse was not in the cart.  That’s what happens in relationships.  Every once in a while one or the other of you draw a line in the sand, just to assure yourself you still have some self identity.  Perhaps we are married 37 years in part because our lines are things like pushing purses which become head games. One thing for sure, pay back is sweet and I had to laugh at here sweet revenge.  As she was checking out she called me over as I had buckled her purse in with the child's seat belt and after doing so I could not comprehend the complexity of the child proof buckle.  The cashier gave us direction.
Vanessa did the driving as we went around to an east side steak house for our Anniversary dinner. She looked gorgeous and we did not even get the server to take a picture of us at our teenie table because they called our name twice in 2 minutes and we did not get there in time even though we said we would be at the bar and they gave our table away.  Thank you Texas Road House for that little piece of extraordinary service. 
When we got home I took a pain pill and Van found me sitting in my office chair with one pant leg pulled off staring into space, twice, maybe three times.  She finally came in ready to do the job herself which got me kick started. 
 I cried three times today and cry a little as I write this.  We had a quiet anniversary.  We cried together, we laughed together, we took a Hoosier road trip, drank a big margarita, ate a filet ( most of it), brought home a good sandwich makins’ for Jared, and I was finally rendered partially catatonic.  I made it, and I think she enjoyed her evening, I know I reveled in her company.   Happy 37th.    


Still No Miracle To Stop The Train

Christmas past and time for the CT scan to see where I am.  Inger came in for my morning points, where she kick starts some key lymph nodes.  A little breakfast just before the no intake for 4 hours began.  We packed out early to arrive by 9 AM so I could start drinking the stuff, two glasses in two hours, sip all the way.  I had hoped I would not have really bad mid section pain but I was uncomfortable enough to make the scan a bit of misery.  After the scan a trip to the office and then a wonderful lunch with the Daughters to top off our Christmas 2010 weekend. 
Dr. H did not keep us waiting long for the results.  As always he delivered the good news, the cancer has not exploded and still remains in the same general area.  The bad news includes the tumor growing in size which is the underlying cause of my physical discomfort at present in his opinion.  In addition some ‘shadowy’ areas have appeared on my colon which may help explain the core pain.  He asked how I felt about going back to the urology group to see if they might want to do another TUR to reduce the size of the animal but I declined.  Seeming to be at somewhat of a loss he suggested another round of chemo, reasoning that the animal had a good blood supply virtually guaranteeing the chemicals will reach it and that it worked before by having an affect on the animal.  This seemed a good step to try.  I wonder if I will loose my eyebrows this time.  I have a feeling about it.  Dr. H finished with the BIW statement (but it will) to make sure I understand the chemo would be to improve my drain function and reduce pain, not a means to a cure, which it will not be.  I now gird myself for angry veins and the rest of the chemo baggage I will carry going forward.  We will go through one month and see if it is having an effect.  In the interim he offered no pills, potions, poultices or practices I could do to stop the terrible pain of the drain, so I will live with it.  Finally home Vanessa assumed the prenatal under a blanket in her recliner and drifted off for a long nap.  I communed with John and Tucker and went back to work on getting a system sold.  By Tuesday morning Vanessa was resolved to going forward.  Our resident psychologist set her straight, she had developed a strategy for managing the 7 grand deductible we will have to cough up at the front of the year and she set the day aside to drive me on my business calls, a noon visit with Dan and his buddy Judy and a afternoon visit with Gerald and Joe covered catching up with our extended family.  As I prepare for work this morning 12/29/2010 I also celebrate the 37 years Vanessa and I have been married.  

Football And Bowel Balance-American Holiday Traditions

Time flies and the animal now shows itself as a dynamic beast creating an ever changing set of challenges.  Our Colts won Sunday and Vanessa and I enjoyed a really good game played hard and with a lot of emotion on both sides.  Vanessa screamed jumped hollered stomped and laughed, I burst into occasional fits of profanity, did stupid grade school cheers and acted like an idiot.  We played Oakland at Oakland.  Young millionaires facing off in space age armored suits in an open field.  Just as wars were fought from the dawn of mankind to our own Civil War, which changed the rules of war, these boys get paid for using skills and talents based on God given abilities and learned traits..  Add genuine love of it and willingness to work for it and you can end up one of the elite.  Two armies of corporate identities, each position a player, each player a self sufficient entity, each entity an employer and wealth generator.  Practiced and drilled from early childhood in most cases, we watched them play out their competitive ballet with punishing hits and precision patterns.  Then Peyton ran 23 yards laughing all the way and we won.  Life is good. 
My standard of living is being jerked around like a cat with its tail caught in a bull dog’s bite.  I am finally understanding my abdominal pain is self inflicted as I am treating my injured colon like it was a cast iron stew pot.  So at least temporarily I can chalk up another hidden blessing, that being debilitating core pain resulting from eating too much, too fast or something I shouldn’t can after multiple applications over days/months/years effect a change in the behavior of the male of the species.  Not many outside influences in life can make this claim about maleluss homouss sapienuss.  I knew but did not want to admit that I could at least for the present no longer eat like Henry the Eighth without paying a punitive price.  I am eating much slower, eating less, and keeping my water intake up.  For now I have the dehydration issue managed.  I am making sure I have a little something solid with meds, especially the pain.  Switched to Dulcolax and it works good for me.  Don’t need it very often thank goodness.  I wish there was a way you could determine which laxative worked best other than trial and error.  It is best to always start with a minimum dosage of whatever until you know what will happen.  Laxatives are required to nullify the unwanted side effects of the pain med.  It is going to take a while to obtain BB (bowel balance) but I know I can get the job done.  The core pain returns when I lay down in any configuration but if I can minimize or even eliminate it most of the other time it will be a tremendous contribution to be the betterment of my everyday comfort.  I know I have a ways to go.  My farts are so over pressurized they are ultrasonic, explaining why the pack of dogs appears on the porch shortly after I let one fly. 


Christmas Day 2010

My first Christmas since diagnosis is here and I wondered how many years the animal has been growing in me.  In retrospect I would guess at least three and more likely four or more.  I now know those subtle symptoms, the occasional urgency that was so much more urgent, the occasional burning that passed in a day or two and I chalked up to dehydration.  There were plenty of signs now that I think about it, by my macho machismo kept me from doing anything about it.  I wanted this to be a good day but right out of the saddle I knew it would be tough and uncomfortable so I increased my pain dosage.  By noon we were packed out to Indy and the Hays family graciously hosting the Christmas this year.  I watched my youngest slaving in her galley preparing a feast for us to dig in to.  She is just like her Mother when it comes to cooking with a fair amount of mumbling and complaining mixed in.  She laid out a feast with pies, cookies, candy, ham, casseroles, salads, bread and two kinds of beans. 
Dinner was lively and we all ate like Henry the Eighth.  I think we all have done a great job of keeping the animal from casting such a pall over our lives that it ruins our most treasured traditions.  It is there lurking and so is the fear.  Once during the evening after a particularly painful drain I came out and had a spasm causing me to involuntarily stop, misstep and wince.  The expressions on my Daughters faces were the first thing I saw when I looked up.  I saw fear and very deep sorrow and a sense of impending doom.  These are the feelings we keep capped for if we did not the animal would be given the upper hand in too much of our lives.  Although capped they are still there, and a sudden noise or lurch by me brings them to the surface.  It is at these times that I am most sorrowful and pained for I feel responsible for bringing the animal into our lives in the first place.
The Wife and Daughters are gamers.  They seem to enjoy most the ones with an element of sin or ones giving a chance to use the feline killer instinct.  One of the current favorites is a trivial pursuit game that gives you the chance to steal a fellow player’s cards to win and then feel guilty about it afterward.  After dinner I mostly wanted to hide from the persistent discomfort in my mid section so with plenty of oxycodone I drifted in and out of light sleep in the family room as the Girls and Jared played the card game in the living room.  The laughter was loud and banter continuous and it was a great Christmas present for me.  Vanessa had hoped we could go on until the wee hours of the morning and was very disappointed as we packed out.  I think it was around 9:30P.  Early in the AM I  found  Vanessa and Jennifer still awake and talking just like teenagers. It was inspiring to me.  The animal did not break our spirit or kill the joy of Christmas this year, and I take great pride in the strength of my Girls that made it all possible. 


Christmas Eve 2010

Christmas Eve and I am up at 4:30A to stay.  Tucker and I set around the garage stove and took in the early am news.  My pain issues persist even as I want so much for it to go away just for a few hours tomorrow.  Jennifer worked for several hours and ventured out to a mall in the late afternoon for some last minute stuff and probably just to get away for a while.  She is suffering from the change in water or air or both with some skin issues but that does not slow her down.  She runs every day and this morning was no exception, although I think she only did a ‘short’ sprint of 6 or 8 miles.  If anything she is certainly the best dressed runner seen in these parts for a while with space age running suit, space age water belt and shoes from another dimension.  I have come to the conclusion that some folks drink, some folks do drugs and some folks run.  I am pretty sure the chemical release from running is an addiction mechanism.  I therefore blame my cross country coach in high school for setting me on the path to addition when I was young. 
Jennifer brought her cat Savannah so we have a two alpha cat house with 4 alpha cats total in the house.
Savannah Baby Cat

Needless to say I am laying low. 
We traveled to my Sister’s home for the second or third annual Christmas ‘brunch’ hosted by my nieces.  While I cannot get my Brother to make a two hour trek for any of these events we do and it was fun and delicious.  We are the last of the Courtney's attending.  We stayed until the late afternoon.  I weathered it all reasonably well, and was thankful it was a two bath home.  When the evening was over and the Girls went to bed I found myself facing another night in the chair.  I have come to dread the hours from 11 P to 3 A.  These are the lonely hours, when sleep only comes in 30 or 40 minute spurts and is sound only when drug induced. So I was up early on Christmas. 


The Inger, The Lymph, The Twenty Third

 Inger visits every day now.  She is going to end up owning us before this is all over.  I do not think our insurance comes near covering her bill.  She has taken on the roll of trainer coach.  Lymphedema is a dynamic condition and we are still learning of tricks it can pull and the finer nuances of edema management.  I have resigned my self to having a left leg larger than a right.  While I can walk ok I have a cane to use, which slows people down who can now outpace me.  Inger works certain pump points to jump start my lymphatic system in the morning.  She keeps track of my condition, trends and addresses those issues that need addressed.  The condition can get chronic and turn to major keg leg and balloon foot in hours if you are not paying attention and sometimes even if you are. 
There seems to be only passing mention of this side effect as a possibility in the research.  My bladder cancer spread into nearby lymph nodes first and swelling started shortly after the first chemo treatment.  Nodes swollen with the animal have pinched off my thoracic duct thereby reducing flow and resulting in the swelling.  I live by the belief that if it has happened to me thousands have already experienced it and there should be reference material out there but there is not that I can find.  Inger’s hard work and myself keeping active and wearing the compression stocking regularly allow me to move about and wear regular shoes. 
Throughout the day today the constant pain and discomfort in my mid section was managed by the med.  I ramped up to 7 pills per 24, which have effectively stopped my howling every time I drain.    At this level I will either develop a tolerance (likely) or require a driver (schedule conflicts).  Jennifer arrived at midnight with Savanna the city cat in tow.  We watched Jimmy Fallon and laughed.  I am thankful for Jennifer but I know it is a real chore for her to get down here.  Others might say she shouldn’t look at it that way but I understand.  If you are working 6 or 7 days and nights a week always slave to the conference call, always with laptop and smart technology in tow, any chance to escape it is cherished.  I find it tragic that we put men on the moon and weapons that can end the world under the sea but we cannot go from Chicago to Indianapolis in less than 4 hours.  It is a function of our willingness to settle for hundred year old piston engine technology to get around. 
The girls turned in around 2A.  Not much sleep to go on for Christmas Eve.  I am still having sore tummy issues.  I doubt the pizza tonight helped but I could not resist.


No Thanks, I'll Stand

I am convinced the animal is working to dehydrate me.  I am getting back into the routine, always at least a 16 oz mug at the ready, Britta pitcher water, less coffee, cranberry juice every day, and some milk every day.  Still the animal seems to be slightly ahead of me.  It almost seems like it is going straight through.  I wanted to go to a meditation tonight but after working all day and having an uncomfortable day I did not have it in me.
Van and I went to one of our favorite spots for a sandwich and I got a Margarita, she was driving and it is treacherous out there in spots so she elected to drink the water.  I improved somewhat through the night, or the pain medication has reached a level of saturation that is masking issues, no matter, comfort is the name of the game. 
An open letter to Santa;
Dear Santa,
Thank you for thinking of me and sending me my gift early.  I am not showing signs of imminent demise so I  am not sure why you chose to deliver it early, but thank you for the thought.
With regard to the gift, I have reviewed my list mailed December 6, 2010 certified and received December 10, 2010 and signed for by Alonzo Twinkie, ELF.  Please note item 3 on that list says Droid.  I was thinking of a smart phone.  Imagine my surprise when I unwrapped the box and lifted the lid only to be struck by a starry ball of magic.  Shortly thereafter I noted someone has placed a hot spear in my bum (English translation).  It is amazing what a difference a letter makes when reading a word.  Droid, roid, oh what a difference there is. 
I guess with all the years you have been in operation you would instinctively know that a burning hot golf ball in the arse is not an appropriate gift or Christmas.  Please advise how I can return.
Best Regards,
Mike Courtney
Chief Sitting on Donut
We all have hemorrhoids and we don’t want to admit it, however I would be remiss if I did not point out that the animal has delivered this painful blow to me probably just for fun.  Having so many years driving over a hundred thousand miles in pick ups I am familiar with roid control. 
My problems with appetite control, weight gain and the side effects of the gabapentine (nuerontin) made a flare almost inevitable.  Of course it means not enough fiber, I am eating fiber bars, using PH and sitting in hot water to get the thing down.  I had it under control but the laxative I took due to the pain pills I take created a stormy half day that blew me out again.  I am sure my toothless oracle looks like a rosebud. 
I am still experience urgency and significant pain of a type I am not sure I have previously experienced.  We see the Dr. H in a few days and I will have a CT scan done with contrast (yummy).  Perhaps that will shed some light on what is going on with me. 


Work Winter And Tuesday Night

Tuesday has been a better day.  My project pile is overflowing and I will be working odd hours around the pain med to get this stuff done before Christmas.  It is the first day of winter, but I think it started six weeks ago when summer abruptly ended.  Maybe I have my dates mixed up.  Numbing cold and wind, barren landscape in days stacked into weeks and I loose track of time.  Of course I am not complaining.  The colder the better in the winter and our service and parts business goes through the roof, and unit sales improve as well.  Summer extreme heat and humidity also benefits us.  So in part my team makes a living off of weather extremes, freeze and break or burn up.  Vanessa will testify I embrace the weather.  Paul taught me the value of layers in my first visit to his Oregon home.  A lesson I brought home with me. 
For me winter wear includes basic underwear, T shirt and long underwear or pajama bottoms and long sleeve pullover or T up top.  Over this my pants or top layer and sweater or bulky shirt and my outfit is complete.  This is the first hear I have incorporated pajamas as a layer.  I have no idea why this never occurred to me before this year.  Wonderful idea and perfect for a insulating layer. 
I spend some outside time each day with Tucker, the outside alpha cat.  She is real affectionate when it is cold or wet.  I have a condo set up for her in the men’s room and service her pan which her highness periodically chooses to use.    The outside time is a time of meditation and Tucker is a warming influence.
The house is filled with the scents of Christmas goodies cooking.  Since we have been married each year Vanessa has made special baskets for Dan and for the past many years Gerald including her famous black banana bread, marshmallow fudge, peanut brittle, and other goodies.  Her chocolate chip zucchini cup cakes are real foolers of men who refuse to eat anything out of the garden that is vaguely phallic in shape. 
Sadly this task which in the past always had some element of joy, even if she was complaining or hollering at some cooking issue, seems to be a difficult chore for her this year.  She goes about her business efficiently and skillfully.  There is no Christmas music playing and she is not happy.  Around 9p she came in, I of course in my rocker, declared that was done and peacefully settled in with Snickers.  She stays out with me every night until around 2 am usually and retires.  I am yet to be able to sleep horizontal for more than an hour or so which I generally reserve for the hour before she awakes.   
The alter to the pagan snowmen stayed in the Rubbermaid this year.  We are conservatively decorated.  The tree is beautiful and artfully done by Vanessa but wrapped empty shoe boxes set underneath.  ‘We’ elected to forgo gifts this year but did each get a new pair of shoes for the gym.  The ‘we’ is the animal, which in one year has stressed our finances to the max and drained most of our ready reserves.  Among my prayers to the Lord is when it comes time to take me let the market be hovering at 15000 or better for my Vanessa’s sake.
I cannot say I am contributing to the spirit.  I have not dug out the Christmas Music and put it on somewhere in the house.  I did not put the outside lighting up, which only amounts to a line along the gutter but never the less was Christmas celebrated in a little way.  All those years I dreaded Christmas, seeing it as more pressure than pleasure have come back to haunt me.  Physically I could do a lot more, but getting into the frame of mind to do it is an ongoing work in process.
I cried tonight, alone and briefly. 



BAM, the pain of a searing hot needle jammed up the grandma chafer lifts me out of the chair just a little and I am off to the toilet.  An hour, give or take a little has passed and so must I, pass that is.  24/7 the routine goes on, with the painful urge every hour on the hour.  No matter day or dead of night, wide awake or dead asleep, the signal to drain the vein comes like clockwork hard and sudden, BAM, my eyes open wide and I wince a little.   I guess the Lord wants to make sure I get the message.  I get it.  Seven weeks of it now and little signs it is letting up.  I hope I am healing.  As with all things we adjust.  I am ahead of it with regard to pain medication this time, which makes my life a lot easier from the get go.   
It’s Sunday and the Hays Family again last night exceeded our expectations taking us to a most excellent Italian restaurant for dinner as thanks for watching the dog while they cavorted about the Caribbean.  Truth be known they could probably talk me into paying to watch the dog, but I am not stepping up to shout that off the rooftops.  We were also going to go to the Warhol exhibit but the combination of Women expotentionally extricated the time allotted for cushion resulting in a shortage of time on the other end.  Otherwise if it were a 24 hour show we would have been set, but since it closed at 5PM we would have to plan to leave to see it by 10 AM to make a 2PM drop dead.  Be that as it may, the dinner and company was the greater joy.
I did the BAM only twice during a long dinner and an adequate facility was within easy reach.  Our take home was enough for full meals later.   Over the weekend I doubled up on the pain med before taking off to do something.  This seemed to make life a lot easier on myself and Vanessa.  The interval increased as well so total pills per 24 only went up one, to six per day.
While draining the ole trouser trout is painful and drinking makes you drain more failure to drink increases the pain.  Mathematically this is a real stumper.  I have discovered that if I become dehydrated the pain at the pump really increases.  So drink and pee more with less pain per visit or don’t drink, pee less but still have the regular BAM only the BAM becomes much hotter and lasts a lot longer.  The animal goes to great lengths to insure my discomfort.  All day Sunday and Monday I worked to keep my fluid intake steady through the day and night.  With Tuesday’s dawn I am improved.  BAM, oop’s gotta go.  


Saying Goodbye To Norman

Now December 15 and I got started around 4 AM on my big quote.  This is the umpteenth version, constructed to look professional and e mailable in Word, my least favorite piece of software.  This is in Word, has crashed too many times to be comfortable around and is persistent in telling me in many cases how I should spell, capitalize etc.  thereby infringing on my rights as I see it. 
Finishing around 10 am Van and I went to Uncle Norman’s funeral.  Frequent urination and painful urges have been plaguing me the last few days, being worse at some times than others.  Of course the worse is when we need to be the best.  As we drove across the county the creeping discomfort hovered close to me.  When we finally made it to the edge of town and the church I asked Van urgently to turn right into a parking lot of a greasy spoon across the highway.  There was no panic, just smooth response.  She turned the Pontiac into the lot at the far end, I got the truckers bomb out of the back seat and she got the modesty cover, both of which I had placed in easy reach before leaving home.  In a repeat of my March through May experience my pants were down, Admiral Winkie was out and I was peeing in the car in controlled and joyous fashion.  We were so practiced at it that it was routine.  I apologized but Vanessa assured me it was OK.  I was glad it was, because I felt a hell of a lot better when I was done.
I got up twice during the funeral but parked myself in front of the door closest the comfort station.  A staff member was at that door seeming to understand there would be in and out traffic, he kept it only slightly opened so we who cannot hold our water were not banging and slamming the door to get our job done. By mid afternoon the urgency and pain abated with the aid of the 3 pain pills taken since midnight. 
I was given his name as my middle name and Norman was used to torment me through my early school daze.  I remember as a small child he bought a new Pontiac Bonneville every year.  He would come by to show it to Dad and a couple of times we all piled in for ice cream.  I looked forward to these annual visits.  I loved the smell of the new car and studied it’s lines and chrome.  Every Christmas for many years we had the family party at his house.  I remember how he beamed when his new family room addition was done. My cousins have been very supportive and are fans of the journal and my frequent letters to the editor.  It was good that I could be there with Vanessa as we said good bye to their Dad with them.  
Already it is past mid December.  The days are a daze.  Life goes on.

Disappointment And Word Games Played

How sad I was in the night.  I did not have the strength to join my Daughter and Son for her birthday dinner.  An event arranged in advance.  Oh sure we can say it was only 7 and windy and after working all day a man my age should not be venturing out but that is like admitting I am a man my age I guess.  Had the discomfort and weakness brought about by the animal not had me I would have gone.  The painful urgency that nags me has left me with deep seated exhaustion.  Mercifully I went down around 8 pm and except for the usual interruptions was down until 4 AM this morning.
I had to call and tell her I wasn’t coming.  This was especially painful and the same as admitting I am seriously ill, a fact we both want to avoid as much as possible.  We did get to have a birthday lunch with her.  She wanted to know what would happen now and talked about her Sister and how she is handling all of this. I replied rather coldly that there is an 85% chance I will not make it three more years.  She thanked me for that birthday present but I think later on down the road she will take comfort in the words we shared.  I had told her not to worry about me, I would be on the porch of the cabin.  ‘With all the dogs’ she chimed in.  I smiled and agreed.   In retrospect I wish I had not said anything.  We all heard the doctors say the same thing.  It is wonderful how the female mind can place that in a locked closet and ask questions like they never heard what the doctor said.  Sometimes I get impatient and short when this happens, or turn cold as I did with my Daughter. 
Cold is a bad thing, it’s sister is bitter, also bad.  I have the articles on file, the statistics and so forth.  To be cold and uncaring I could carry a prepared statement that includes what the doctor said and what the odds are and deliver it just when it gets started. 
That closet in the female mind  is a protection device and it needs to be protected.  When my Girls are in pretend mode and the closet door is locked and the reality is hidden away I need to play along with a balanced response between reality and what they want to hear I guess.  It is a tricky game to play and so far I am not doing very well at it but I am working at getting better.   


Pill Taking

For me taking pills is the same as a submission to the animal.  I can take most even without liquid but for me it is the same as paying penance to the ultimate evil within me.  My Mom hated to take pills.  Mom smoked Winston cigarettes until I was well into my twenties I think.  I suppose she started around 14 or 15 but never asked.  While she had many health issues in her life she detested taking pills.  I never understood.  In her final years my Sister had to monitor her daily and finally gave up deciding she was old enough to decide what she would take.  Mom had a long stick of 7 labeled days and under the lid of each day was the pills for that day, and it was doubled on the other side for nights.  It sat on her stove and I would look when I dropped in on her and in her last couple of years I rarely discovered that she was taking her pills.  She took them when she felt bad, but she did not feel bad enough most of the time.  Perhaps I inherited this revulsion for pills.
I only take three pills so I understand I am bitching about something that is very minor.  One is a maintenance cholesterol pill.  What a joke, here I am stage aw sh.. and we worry about my cholesterol.  One is gab, as I call it.  This is 3 times a day for my feet and one is pain, 5mg dose, 3-5 times a day for the past couple of weeks.  In the morning I get a little in my stomach, typically something toasted.  With total resignation I go to my designated pill storage area in the kitchen.  I do this with the full knowledge that I will suffer some consequences physically and emotionally in what I am about to do.  Like a fly being drawn to the light, the addict.  I get about 8 oz of water, take a swig, lay out the gap and cholesterol in the morning, take a swig, open the cabinet pull down the pain pills, lay one out and take a swig, then take each individually with a swig.  The process is repeated two more times each day, seven days a week, less the cholesterol tab.  This is one of those things that can take me completely down and out in a spiral.  I fight the urge to boil over in anger and break into obscenities too frequently when it comes time to take the pills. Saying that here helps me focus these emotions like a laser to the tumor.  The fight includes the discipline to take the pills.  It is part of being a big boy and acting like a grown up.  While the animal is the cause of the most unpleasant medications, to lapse in application guarantees my suffering is compounded and is for me saying ok animal, you beat me.  I’m not ready to concede that yet. 


Blood, Work, Weekend

In the darkness of morning and I’m draining blood.  Today is the day of my Daughter's birthday party, which I am fairly determined to attend and enjoy.  I walked a lot yesterday evening, including one big uphill event and I hope that is the cause.  The animal has no way of knowing my plans, nor does it care.  I refuse to believe at this point the animal is active at the tumor site.  This generally takes me down a couple of notches.  I am dejected.  I am bleeding a lot.  I pass clots without warning that while not causing excruciating pain still involuntarily buckle knees.  It makes me fear like old Fred did that ‘this is the big one Earl’.
Six AM and I am feeling great otherwise.  Tucker and I watched Highway Patrol and Sea Hunt on the local movie channel.  I love the old b&w TV shows.  Tucker had me pet her briefly then advised me it was time to quit that crap and settled in on the ottoman to watch TV.  Vanessa just arose, she gets up and the sun shines in my life, huh.  We have a big day ahead.  In a nice phone visit with my generally medicated and levitated Sister last night I said I was learning the virtues of being stoned all the time like she is.  I suppose there is a great possibility it could come to something like that at the end for me but not now.  A very small dose of oxycodone is applied as required, at intervals not less than 4 hours.  This is applied when things get ‘chronic’.  Chronic is a term we settled on to describe a situation where pain medication is required.  This generally includes stuff that hurts a lot or for a long time or flares of pain individually or in groups.
 I am pumped up about work and got lots of stuff in the hopper to work on which makes capitalizing on non driving time easy.  I am blessed to have such a career, I only wish I could figure out how to make money at it.  Like the gamblerholic I am hooked on the so close game and as previously outlined dig the gig.  
Having said all that, today I will live with it without discussion, manage my own issues, take advantage of a driver and be as stoned as required short of passing out if needed.  Today I will have a good time, period.  How can I go wrong?  Soon the beautiful Inger will be in for our rehab session.  While I dearly desire my legs to look ‘good’ Inger’s careful inspection will reveal the true condition.  Of late the left one has been a problem along with center.  If it is bad Inger will work longer and many times with greater pressure.  Pain and pleasure are truly two sides of the same card when properly applied.
Whew.  So I want to be good, but it is so good when I am bad.  Hokey smokes, hooked on the treatment.  This is kind of like what someone would say if they were hooked on their vicodin. 
I’ve noticed that whenever I see someone I have not seen in a few weeks I get the ‘you look really good’ comment, or ‘you are looking good’ or something of that variety.  Lately if I see the same party again a week or two later I get ‘you look a lot better’ comment.  Seeing pictures of myself is something of a shock.  I feel like I have a drawn look about me and I feel like I look very small.  From a guy whose face looks like a worn out baseball glove anyway it hardly seems in character to worry at all about how one looks.  Yet I cannot help but think I must have looked like hell the last time they saw me to say I look a lot better now.  Of course, what do you say to a person carrying the animal?  I understand how awkward it must be. 
The weekend went by fast.  We got to go to Jocelyn’s birthday party, a real honor for us I think, with dinner at a Spanish restaurant, nicely stocked bar at the house and in the company of her Sister, Husband and a few close friends of hers.  Sunday I vegetated with the wind howling in the afternoon and through the night.  I passed a lot of blood Saturday but it cleared up Sunday and I am working on increasing my retention time now as I appear to finally be well enough to work at it. 


Welcome December 2010

I am not sure it got over 13 today.  The cold is bitter and dry.  My foot issues have passed for the most part but I am taking 3 gabs a day to control it and putting up with the side effects.  Today I stepped up the pain medication to deal with some urgency issues that got better as the day progressed.  The appointment with Dr. H took up the entire afternoon with the trip down and back, check in at the J and J’s place and stop at steak and shake for the happy hour milk shake.  I weighed in at 209 and desperately need to get this under control.  My frame is set for about 15 pounds less than that as a max weight level.  I know the drill, it’s all about calories.   The Doc looked me over, not sure what he looks for.  He is satisfied with my recovery and advises that the urinary discomfort and blood is likely just part of it, although samples were taken to make sure something else is not creating a problem that can be treated.   'Maybe the tumor is doing something, who knows' his comment reassuring to Vanessa I am sure.  It is always painful to face the reality that is without treatment options we can simply stand by and watch and live with the animal.  I fight but the animal is so strong and so pervasive.  Like hurting to pee.  A man’s right is the right to stand and deliver, so to speak.  The right to write your name in yellow without pain or discomfort of any sort I thought was an inalienable right.  Not so.  The animal denies me this right at this time.  I am sure I will beat it or learn to live with it in some fashion as time goes on. 
Soon it will be a year since I became ill.  Not a day goes by without some element of the illness impacting me.  The animal makes it’s presence known through the friends it keeps, edema and neuropathy in my case.  In 3 weeks I will have another CT scan.  They will look for growth in lymph node sizes, new spots etc.  Dr. H will meet to discuss the results in the afternoon.  I have lost a lot of strength through this time and this week I am feeling it.  My left leg and hip is so sore at times I involuntarily moan.  I am plagued with back aches and frequent painful urination but it is great to be here.  
It's Tuesday and the Grand Dog went home this morning with her Dad.  They were thrilled to see each other.  This eliminates the one excuse I have for walking on the open county roads in -8 to +8 wind chills without the neighbors thinking I have lost my mind.  He walks ahead, pushing the left leg forward.  His left hand grips the lead, Maggie, the hunter dog is working the ditch.  The wind makes his eyes hurt, he lowers his head staring at his feet as he pushes forward.  The dog is a constant pull and suddenly she leaps, arm leaves socket, coat ripped asunder, drug down into the ditch as the dog intimidates a field mouse, 40 pounds vs.a fraction of an oz.  Well alright, it isn’t all that bad.  It’s just like Wild Kingdom in my own neighborhood.  Last night the cat found a small foil ball and clearly acted out all of her aggression against the dog on that piece of foil, danderbombing as she went.  Isn’t it all of this that makes life worth living.  Why would anyone desire wealth, comfort, freedom from financial worry at the expense of missing the finer details of life?  I can only hope a bag of money will fall today into my front yard from a drug dealer’s air plane with twenty million dollars in it.  I would gather it up and examine it in the privacy of my own domicile then promptly turn it into the state police post nearby.  Hopefully I would get a finders fee or some reward, say ten percent of the fifteen million at some point in time.   
America remembered Pearl Harbor briefly this week and Elizabeth Edwards died of breast cancer that got to her liver.  They said she was in no pain at the end.  Her two timin’ old man was at her side with her children. 
My youngest will be thirty in a few days.  She called last night to let me off the hook in case I did not want to go to the party.  She cautioned me that there would be drunk people and they all know what my details are and might be curious.  If I wanted to avoid that I could just not go.  I have business cards with my blog address to hand out to those with whom I might not elect to discuss details with and they can read my ramblings to glean what they can from me.  After all I certainly understand that when it comes to this animal everyone has to know, and most thrive on the detail. 
It has been a good week.  Work is going well and I find many opportunities to offer our services and products. I am living with everything with needed adjustments.  Travel routing has been altered to assure comfort stations at 50-60 minute intervals.  Vehicles now equipped with empty trucker bombs on stand by.  Pain killers are now part of the regular meds regimen as I fully resign myself to this stage of the process.
I was reminded this week of the process through learning of another’s journey just beginning.  My path began with a hoped for but requiring a miracle cure.  Now my path is to live my life and face the rise of the animal when it begins it’s onslaught.  My only plan is to have fun today. 


My Life With The Grand Dog, Winter, And Recovery

The grand dog is in the house.  She is sporting a new collar, as her Mom and Dad could not bring themselves to clean the fecal matter imbedded in the old one from some unauthorized rolling around.  Maggie is very much a people dog.  She presently is layed across the bedroom door watching intently as Vanessa gets ready to go out for morning coffee with some buddies.  She had me out this morning and demonstrated how she could flatten herself to rug thickness and squeeze under the fence to run the neighborhood.  Later today we will begin barricading those spots. 
As for my condition report hurts to pee, the incision hurts, the neuropathy nags at me and I am quite uncomfortable most of the time.  Bowel movements are also very uncomfortable and I endured four today.  Still must sleep in the recliner in 1-2 hour intervals and I am getting along ok with this.  The last surgery it took from February to June for me to get back to a good comfort level, so I took a pill.   I did find enough scrap lumber to fill the gap between the bottom of the fence and the ground in the back.  Maggie surveyed each of her escape spots and made no attempt to closely examine.  She seemed relieved not to have the outlet, but I am sure I am reading too much into this dog’s expression.
 During my quiet time in the morning, every morning, Snickers seeks me out for 2-5 minutes of close time, during which she has trained me to rub her head, stroke her back and cradle her in my arms as I would an infant.  When satisfied she abruptly leaves and all rules are off for the rest of the day.  She will also do this around 8PM every evening if I am in a position that makes it possible.  She will plop on her Mother’s lap and lay for hours, and her Mother is allergic to her.  Go figure.  It is a good start to both our days although I feel confident neither of us is overtly disappointed on days we miss such structured interaction. 
Vanessa sent me an article on diet and the animal.  I think she is suggesting I go a nutritional route, no meat, no milk product caught my eye in the article.  Starve the cancer and weaken the cell wall while boosting the immune system to attack it with the body’s own defenses.  So many things I could do but have so little energy to undertake at this juncture. 
My koosh ball is disintegrating.  I thought they were pieces of pencil led at first, and of course I don’t use a mechanical pencil.  No, it is pieces of this therapeutic little ball of rubbery splines. 
My recliner broke.  It takes an exceptional recliner to survive bladder cancer, at least that has been my experience.  It was a good soldier, with a few years on it going into this one.  The damage is extensive and repairs not feasible so a rubber bunge and some wire and we have a new rocking chair, works for me, Van’s concept made a reality, teamwork.
The Grand Dog is a poop snob.  She will not drop indiscriminately hither wither and yon.  No, she seems to be able to hold it for a incomprehensibly long time until she is on her chosen ground, which in my case is my back yard.  When she first came over she kept her business on one end of this area, which is fenced in on 3 sides with the back of the house making the fourth.  As time past and visits came and went she became less caring and I took to wearing some of her as a souvenir on my shoe soles.  So now we know that when you heat dog deposits on shoe soles the eu de whodunshatdemselves fragrance will waft out with a vengeance.  So it was that on that very chilly day in late October, on the 45 minute drive to the hospital that it was not until the last turn that Vanessa asked ‘Did you shit your pants?’  ‘No, but I smell it too’, I said ‘maybe it’s sewer gas’.  ‘Smells like poop to me, are you sure?’ she asked again.  I did not reply, but followed my nose to looked at the bottom of my treaded shoes and there was a lot of Maggie on the left one.  So while we waited to be called in I went outside and worked as much off as I could, and in the prep room got an extra bag for the shoes.  So developing a dog drop management program was important.  My Brother Rex likes to bring me stuff when I am in the hospital.  On my last stay he brought a unique light.  He is very good about that, coming up with something different and new.  Jocelyn has the same gift.  He brought me an Astro Superlight on a lanyard.  Made of aircraft grade aluminum, 6 LEDs inside, ah Brookstone®  you find stuff in their book and wonder what would you ever use it for.  Well I can tell you this light is worth it’s weight in gold, it makes the perfect poop light. 
The handsome model in this photo demonstrates how the light is worn.  Projecting a semicircle of bright light in the dark of the early morning and in the dark of night as the dog’s schedule goes. It brings daylight ahead as one walks clearly showing what is in front on the ground.  It can also be used long distance to spot the spot, as well as to provide a visual stunner to ward of the wild animal if she wants to wrestle in the back yard.  I selected the standard shovel and put it near a circular corral made by laying out a piece of 4’ flexible draining pipe I had laying around to keep the turd ponies in.  So SOP morning and evening is to let the Magsters out in the back yard, watch as she gets around to her number two, shovel it up and deposit it in the corral.  Clean shoes, clean yard, clean dog and giant pile of shit after a week  An eloquent solution made possible by Rex.  How was he to know.  So actually the light might be more aptly named the asstrolite in my case.  I tell you it is such a joy when you have just the right tool to get the job done right. 
Now Saturday Evening the fourth day of the month twelve of year 2010.  I walked a little over a mile today.  I am much better overall.  Last night I slept on the horizontal for a couple of hours so it should not be long now before I am back to a more regular routine.  Put on my long johns today, might not take them off until March except for obligatory hygiene.  The evening is quiet.  I walked the dog into the ground, boy these city dogs are really a bunch of wusseees I guess.  Van is tutoring as I write this.  
Sunday AM the cat is fed, Mag Pie has been outdoors and I have taken a pill, all is good.  As the day goes on a tinge of melancholy is in the air, always before one of these doctor visits.  Vanessa had a bad dream last night and did not want to talk about it, that kind of stuff. We walked the dog as far as she could (OK I confess I was done in as well) given the low temps and high winds.  An early winter blast.  As we walked I lowered my head and pushed my leg hard and when I looked up and saw how far it was I was not sure I would make it but I made it with Vanessa at my side and Maggie dragging us onward. 


Thanksgiving Weekend 2010

The pain was sudden and severe.  The left foot, little toe and one next to it and the ball on that side, WOW, shebang, holy sh.., OMG, what the hell is this all about.  Pain again, bang, pow, whoa hoss, oh damn, yeoweee Abigail, oh kalamazoo, bam.  Neuropathy has reared its ugly head.  Now that is an equalizer if ever there was one.  Unable to bear any weight on the areas affected causes me to hobble.  A hint Thanksgiving, an attack Friday and a knock down Saturday and I am back to the prescribed 3/300 mg/gabapentin per day every day.  Now the condition lurks, close to the surface, rolling about.  Sometimes it hits like a hammer, raising one up with a start.  The drug taken as prescribed seems to manage the condition but does nothing to cure it.  My problem is I continue to live in this dream world where I can quit taking pain pills and gab and so on and I have to accept that ain’t gonna happen.  Whoa, don’t touch.  Don’t even get near.  You learn to walk in odd ways, on heels, balls, sides of your feet and sometimes you might not get to walk at all.  This is all the more reason to return to the gym as soon as possible as far as I am concerned.  And clearly I need to accept reality every day and stop living in that dream world that has kept me young all those years.  Is that another cost levied by the animal, the end of the Adonis Effect, or AE as it is known?  While everyone else sees an old fat guy I look in the mirror and see Adonis.  A God.  Why not this one indulgence to see me through? 
The animal will not give me peace.  I never know from day to day what is going to be thrown at me.  It makes life more interesting than ever when physical comfort is involved.  I shall not lay down to the beast.  Dr. Noah assures me we have a pill for everything. 
Saturday night we had our birthday for Vanessa.  She got her IPod with its camera and tuner, I’m so jealous but happy for her as she continues to stumble kicking and screaming into the 21st century.  As with all things she will soon be more advanced than I in the intricacies of the IPod world..  We had a great time, sharing small plates with wine at a wonderful venue along the canal in Indy and then to the brewhouse for desert and lots of laughs.  Jocelyn took pictures so evidence does exist.  It was a ton of fun and the finale to our great weekend holiday with the Family, oh how I miss them when they are gone.  Fortunately for me I will have a couple more opportunities in the coming month to spend time with both my Daughters and Wife. 
We are keeping the grand dog while J and J take a vacation for a few days starting Tuesday.  It appears I will be in pretty good shape for the puppy.  I will once again experience the joy of the dog inside and out and I need to be in shape for it.  Sunday was football day.  I did walk to the end of the cul de sac with no problem during a time when the neuropathy was toned down.  This is turning into a battle.  I take great care bringing weight to bear on my feet as I sometimes cannot tell where the pain is lurking if I have been sitting with my feet up.  So Sunday and Monday I stayed down for the most part.   
I appear to have overdone the walking and stairs etc. over the weekend.  Now Tuesday early and I am back to where I was last week about this time.  Vanessa suggested I have gotten worse over the past couple of weeks.  I can summarize my issues in two words, incision, gas.  These are my two constant pain generators and I am a wussy when it comes to pain.  The return of fire feet has been like hot fudge on vanilla bean, I mean if you are going to have the pain, let’s go all the way.  The bone ache in the left leg is also out there, from not taking walks several times a day.  I know, I know, suck it up. 
This morning since I am importing some CD’s into my I tunes library.  I have the program set up on Vanessa’s machine and loaded my LP collection into my library yesterday in anticipation of her use.  We went down to the gym yesterday and converted my membership from Senior Single to Senior Couple, Vanessa is now officially no longer a Curves member after all these years.  She has a couple of buddies to start with and was thrilled to get her bar code card and official membership.  ‘Now we can come to the gym together’ she gleefully proclaimed.  ‘Oh yeah.’ He replied, ‘to watch TV’.  ‘No’, he knew this was coming, ‘We can work out together!’ she was almost giddy in her tone.
‘Oh boy’ he deadpanned.  A game we play.  Actually I am thrilled that she has joined the gym.  As with all things she will go into this head strong and it will be a great success for her I am sure, not to mention another networking opportunity.  It’s only a matter of time before she takes up golf.  So we are 59, I am loading up my I Tune library, we are in the same gym and I am talking about golf in November, ah the modern couple.   
In keeping with the spirit my mantra today is ‘Quit Bitching and Take Pain Pills’ (as required).


Thanksgiving...So Glad We Made It

Listening to the Kansas LP ‘Two for the Show’ as it plays through for digital conversion to MP3.  I still have a few albums to go to complete my project.  So far 267 LP’s are done.  Over the years I considered many times getting rid of this collection.  In my ‘do it as you can program’ over the past two years I have had the great pleasure to replay my collection.  Many albums were only played once to record to cassette.  I gave away the cassette collection last year, knowing I had the vinyl to back it up.  This collection has been the mainstay for my I Pod.  Picking songs at random from the files for the I Pod is my SOP.  Often times my play list sounds like Q 95’s when they are playing classic rock.  Interspersed with that is the easy listening collection, from Abba to Elgin John and beyond.  A few Kansas songs still get regular radio play.  Wow, what that must be like, to do a song decades ago and get a check for airtime.  Called Shirley Evelyn and Helen yesterday, my Dear Aunts to hear their voices and wish them a happy Turkey day.  I certainly hope I can get up to see them.  What a delight to hear those voices and I had a great visit with each one.
 Wednesday night we were at the Hay’s compound and dined on Cajun fare, fabulous, that was a carry in from a nearby Cajun chef.  I have come to look forward to dining with Jared and Jocelyn, it is always a real treat and many times a true adventure, whether dining in our out.  Jenny made it in late after a very long drive down.  Tough getting out of the city on the night before T day as it seems about a million others are getting out to go home and spend time with family or get out of the City for another diversion and we had only a few hours sleep going into Thursday.  
Thanksgiving Day 2010, 50’ish temps, rain, wind sometimes, definitely November in Indiana.  Of course we have had brutally cold T days and much warmer ones in the past, so I will gladly take this relatively mild one this year.  It was just the 5 of us.  Vanessa worked most of Wednesday and all Thursday morning.  Jocelyn brought yummy stuff, including the addictive mac and cheese dish and some continental cuisine.  It was a great day.  We ate like royalty, napped like satiated felines, played games, watched football, got a little tipsy and laughed a lot. What a great Thanksgiving we had together. 
I have been wearing my compression stocking on the left leg, and Inger reported this morning it looked pretty good.  I am still battling back pain and I am sporadically passing blood in my urine.  The seepage from the wound is at last slowing and I am getting around better today than yesterday.   Now 4 weeks since the surgery and I move slowly.  My movement is accentuated by pain at the suture and odd pains internally that are short lived and very sharp.  I cannot do a lot around the house yet.  Pushing the sweeper or standing for long periods is out of the question.  I have set a goal to be doing so good in the business a year from now that I can afford a Consuelo.  So I take a pill.
The girls stayed over and Jocelyn and I camped out in the recliners.  I caught about 2 hours of sleep but was not too uncomfortable through the night.  I took two pain pills at a 4 hour interval but they seemed to have no effect.    
We all put on a brave front when we are together but there is a pall that hangs over us, a dark shadow of the animal that lives inside me.  Jocelyn called it an ‘emotionally charged atmosphere’, an understatement to say the least in a household with 3 women who are ‘emotionally charged’ to the nth degree normally.  It certainly would not take much to reduce me to a sniveling mass that’s for sure.  I have only to look at my Girls and dwell for a moment on all that I will miss for the tears to well up.  Perhaps what we all need is a good group cry but it is not my way.  I cannot allow myself the luxury of such a lapse.  My battle demands I stay strong and positive and so I allow myself those moments of weakness when I am alone and apart, and only for a brief time.  Brief grief or BF as the two letter acronym for it would go.  BF allows me to vent.  I know behind my back the girls are tortured but they put up a strong front.  Vanessa seems to be bracing for whatever might happen whenever it might happen but I think the Daughters just cannot get their arms around it like that.  Only Jocelyn reads my journal here, and she says it is difficult for her, but she is drawn like a moth to the light to read my thoughts as I journey through the process.  I wonder if I should ask if we should have a group cry, but the thought of it makes me cry.  My battle plan says there is always time for cryin’ so why start it now. 
I took Friday off.  The Girls went south to Grandma’s and shopping.  I visited my extended family in Muncie in the morning, John G stopped by in the afternoon and we watched stupid television and tuned up for the evening.  Writing and some play with recent photos rounded out my day.  I got about 6 hours of good sleep in.  As Vanessa predicted I awoke Saturday late, had some cuddle time and Tucker time and find myself feeling much better with the exception of one thing.  Neuropathy struck my left foot with a vengeance leaving me hobbling.  I absolutely could put no weight on the left front side. I went back to a 6 hour interval on the medicine yesterday and this morning I have much improvement.  Still tender by not so debilitating that I cannot get around.  


So Much To Be Thankful For

Oh what a blessing technology is.  I sit with my Brothers as if we are in the same room on Skype.  Dan is at the cutting edge of research into cyber passing but we ain’t there yet.  We chat and laugh and share and vent.  While it certainly does not replace physical presence, it does enhance our long distance conversation significantly.  I have long wondered how video calling would work for a professional salesperson, most of who shudder at the thought I think.  I’ve had little sleep in spite of the pain medicine.  The wind chimes chiming in infinite harmonies as the wind of strong storms sweeps through.  Ah November and he stands on the porch looking to the northern sky and feeling the wind blow through him.  A new year for the business and we battle on in an economy that is ever changing.  Technology is a wonderful thing, but it is also a brutal task master.  For some professions where communications and response time is critical a job can be carved out and adapted to changing conditions. 
I once had a salesman who I could not get to go out and see a Customer, it was like pulling teeth.  He hovered over the office, sucked up resources indiscriminately and cherry picked incoming calls.  After he left the work load in the office dropped in half and it was a decidedly nicer place to work.
He was consistently a top salesman, although I never had a lot of respect for how he did it.  I can now appreciate his powers of persuasion and ability to use the technology available at the time to get orders.  The most remarkable thing to me was he posted great numbers for my business at a time when none of the technology we take for granted even existed, and made a decades long career of it. 
For me the business is more than numbers.  Producing billable hours for highly skilled artisans is an honor.  Placing very high quality equipment is fun, but does little for aftermarket service income, a conundrum but a good one to have.  Making sure you spend your Customer’s money wisely is a mandate.  Providing a service to a plant utility without which the doors could not stay open is a grave responsibility.   I never saw it as a long distance job, and I never got rich.  Throughout my career I have been blessed with being surrounded by very talented individuals, allowing me to apply the shared memories of a large and smart team to my job, making it easy to do.
However as I go through periods of limited or no travel and motoring about on foot I am forced to resort to alternatives to the face to face meeting.  I am still learning my way.  One thing for sure, work is work, no matter how you go at it.
Working at the Cancer Center was like work anywhere for us

I am just thankful I have the ability to continue and so many things to keep me busy.  It really is a gas.  Travelled today for some calls in Muncie and visited with my friend Gerald.  Still get worn down pretty easy.  Driving really seems to take a toll but I did wear regular pants and made it without major incident. 
Now Wednesday and 5:30 AM and I have been at it for a while.  Sleep continues to be evasive and painful urination is a periodic problem.  I am certainly abnormally frequent.  Cranberry juice now in the daily regimen.  Gerald suggested adding bee product as well to my intake.  Good or bad we have set keeping my immune system in boost mode as a worthy goal.  It is important to have goals.  This one encompasses diet and exercise and gives Vanessa aka Inger many ways to participate in my ongoing therapy.  Being blessed with such a caring soul, it would be cruel and do a great disservice to us both if I in any way excluded her.
She watches closely now, sometimes hovering and boy am I thrilled with it.  Nothing like having a beautiful woman hovering.  I see in her blue eyes the girl I met nearly 40 years ago.  It was love at first sight for me then and like a gold fish forever in orbit forgetting where he just was I rediscover that feeling in my gut and heart every time I look into those eyes.  It is without question a singular joy that could sustain me if no other joy entered my life.  On top of that we have two wonderful and beautiful Daughters who have held there childhood bonds to their Mother long distance.  When they get together it is just like having a bunch of teenagers in the house, ornery ones at that.  My Son by marriage is a caring soul of like humor who patiently took me golfing for the first time and who’s company I thoroughly enjoy.  His Wife is a rock with attention to the finest of details in patient and family care.  She brings stability to our situation.
A disease that put me in the hospital, long recoveries and extended treatments opened the door to more blessings than I can count.  They were often hidden and only came to the light of day through hardship.
These hidden blessings include the loving and caring family I have with my Brothers, Sisters, Nieces and their Husbands, Sons and Daughters.  Although we are the last Courtney to show our face in this crowd I am thankful we live so close and can share with them and hold them dear. 
My dear Neighbors who saw me on a stick and wondered but dared not asked and once told stepped forward without hesitation.  Dale mowing my lawn at a critical time in my recovery from the first surgery, Bob weed eating and cleaning up and all around ready to step in whenever called.  Vanessa’s Church Family, Phil trimming hedges for us and tilling the garden in the spring, food, caring and emotional support for Van is all a dream come true for me.  And her amazing circle of friends, with whom she can share the details of her feelings, so important to good mental health in stressful times.  My work team one and all would come at a moments notice if I called as would many of my Customers who are also friends and confidants.  Many in my home town and from high school pray for my recovery and wish me well.  My close friends and supporters John, Gerald, Peggy, Kathy and Joe.  My dear Aunts, three wonderful ladies, two of which I now have regular e mail contact with as a result of Mom's passing.  God's gift to me in my suffering, all of these people who are in my life and supporting me and my Wife and Daughters in so many ways.  More than I can list here. 
All the blessings that have come my way or still await I am most thankful for this year. 


Days Passing

Saturday and I walked, pushing myself harder now.  I started some seeping on the wound again but I gained in my ability to walk with a more normal stride. I am having some pain and burning when I urinate and have passed some clots that nearly buckled my knees.  I am working on increasing my clear water intake to help this.  It is similar to previous post catheter difficulties.
Sunday and cuddle time first thing.  I am still healing and a lot of movement makes me sore below the navel in a horizontal line through the incision.  I remain sensitive to gastronomic pressure, which causes pain as that runs the circumference of my middle.  It is of course manageable and a reminder I need to mind my p’s and q’s as the healing process progresses. 
Inger now visits daily with glowing reports on my condition.  Her masterful touch I suspect is the difference as the lymph finds those alternative paths to circulate through.  She missed yesterday and this morning I had the keg leg so I put on the compression garments for the first time since the surgery without issue.  Going to church with Van this morning and we shall see how I do.  It certainly makes comfort station breaks more of a job to get down to business and covered up again but a small price to pay I think.  What is most discouraging is the swelling shows that no miracle is going on, the nodes are not getting better and neither am I.  Regardless, I continue without symptoms of the cancer itself and look forward to the coming short week and holiday.  I joined my Wife at her Church today and enjoyed a feast afterwards.  I thanked the church family for their prayers and support as it has meant a great deal to us and been a real boon to our situation and spirits.  Vanessa looked gorgeous and I wore workout pants and tennees with a fashionable sweater if I do say so myself.  We had to explain to a couple of folks that there was no treatment regimen for me now.  ‘Look Lady, would you quit, you don’t get it, you’re out of the loop.  Did they have to cut me?  Holy cow.  Oh alright I will give you the short version instead of my typical brush off.  Helloooo, you did not listen?  No chemo, no radiation, just regular check ups.  I see you have that deer in the headlights look.’  Finally there is nothing left to say.  
My mode within conventional health care is defensive to make the time I have left as good as possible.  This does not preclude me from cutting a chicken’s head off and sprinkling blood in a circle around my bed in hopes of deriving some benefit from it.  It is hard to tell people I am incurable and my time measured, yet when pressed I certainly get the point across I think.
The Colts lost to New England and life goes on.  Once again a cold wind blows from the south and west so it looks like the temps are going to tank soon.  I did not get the maintenance done on the house this year and pray for a mild winter so I will have minimal damage to deal with in the spring. The home seems right tonight, I in my office and Van in hers.  She’s tutoring and I am writing this among other things.  I have my pile to start in on tomorrow morning as I do not expect to be in the driving long distances and walking around mode.      
I have taken a pain pill, a 5 mg of oxycodone or the like and now find myself droopy eyed and ready to lay this quill down for a while.

Cancerpage.com sums up my situation as follows 'The last two decades have brought significant improvements in the treatment of metastatic bladder cancer with survival time nearly doubling to 12 months and the three-year survival rate improving from less than 5% to 15 to 20%.'  Let's drink to the 20%.


Routine And Reflections

Working until I can’t, resting short periods, working more through the day,
Restless shuffling, constant tightness, slowing me along the way,
Pain sometimes, sharp and hard, feeling like a burn,
I take extra care, I would not dare, to risk its return. 
Back pain from sitting too much I hope,
Cold outside that cuts through my coat,
Life is hard and can be cruel,
So I took a pain pill and a laxative to on both ends drool.
I know the drill,
If that don’t fix it nothing will.
Now the 17th, my 3 week anniversary since the surgery.  Another day where I am a little closer but not there yet.  Making calls and talking to nice folks, layed back and feeling no pressure, a blessing for sure for me.  The days are sunny but crisp now and these last few days I have spent most of my time inside.   It becomes more difficult for me to keep my spirits up as the days pass.  I am still sleeping in a chair.  I get a lower back ache that comes on every evening early and gets progressively worse as the evening goes on.  I take a pain pill late in the evening to sleep. 
The laxative is always a surprise.  I think I am working fine, straight through, out as much as in, etc. and I take the senna and a few hours later pow, where did all of this come from?  Just goes to show the importance of this with the pain killers.  I find it most curious that digestive tract pain brought on by pain killers and the resulting constipation is much different from what I would expect.  Long known for my ebm’s (explosive bowel movements) I am quite familiar with the rumblings and abdominal cramps that go along with abusing my GI tract.  This is quite different from the pain I now have that goes away almost immediately after the laxative hits the mark, punches the clock, turns the lever, opens the gate, etc. 
Now the 18th and I am marginally better in the recovery department.  Over 3 weeks since I have worn compression stockings and my left leg is looking pretty good.  I am up early getting some office work in and gathering stuff for a visit to the office later today.
A wonderful lunch with Jocelyn and Vanessa and a steady work load in the afternoon rounded out my day.  I wiled away the evening reviewing photographs, catching some TV and talking to Renee.  Only 3 hours of sleep or so and up at 4A, Friday is here again.  Odd how the days are so long with my lack of movement outside the office and family room and yet looking back on the week it seems to have flashed by.  Mornings are getting better for me and this one seems to be no exception.  My stomach feels better and I am motoring around a little more gracefully. 
Vanessa shared with me a little of her experience in the waiting room, the room of the big numbers, while I was in surgery.  I am not sure I would have held it together as well as she had our roles been reversed.  I laughed when she told how my entourage settled in, hospital professionals one and all.  The waiting room mode, I never got it until now.  The vigil, how blessed every patient is that has one. 
I suffered when Van told of getting the call to get back, she thought it would be an hour before the next report and slipped off for a break, the surgeon needed to talk to her.  How my stomach sank as she told of how the news was delivered, how she took hope from it.  I thought if how it must have pained my Daughters and got a bigger knot in the gut. 
And my Sisters and Jack were there as well, but being older they have heard such things a few times now.
And witness to it all was the stodgy receptionist.  The guardian of order, that assigned you a number for your area in the waiting room, would witness elation and desolation on an hourly basis every day.  I am not sure I could do even that job in this cancer center.


Wierdness Hands Down

3rd hand, and if you believe this I have a bridge...
There are many unknowns when it comes to bladder cancer.  In a new twist I developed a third hand, doggone thing just popped up overnight out of the back of my neck.  Many times in the hospital nurses and patient care assistants offered to lend me a hand.  Since I generally shun credit I would normally respond with a no thank you and take my fine time doing what ever they perceived I needed a third hand for.  Often I wondered where the hand was coming from that they were lending.  A cadaver's hand?  An unwilling hand?  After all how do you get a hand's permission for anything if you don't know sign language?   No way the chemo could have done it I am told, so I must attribute it to all the CT scans and X rays done over the past 10 months.  As with all things I can adjust to this as well.  I can say it is comforting having the hand on my shoulder, almost urging me on.  I continue to find things I am handy with, and this condition should only enhance that phenomenon.  I do have some sweaters and shirts that will cover the condition as it seems to cause some people real concern when they see it for the first time.  Also I find I need to fit it with some sort of brace or glove to prevent the middle finger from popping up unexpectedly.  Next week we will consult with an appendageologist on the possibility of getting a hand job done.


Adventures And Thoughts As Recovery Wears On

Today recovery continues.  I have some blood passing at least once a day for the last few days, now 4 I think.  Usually but not always at the end of the stream I think it is a sign that the catheter in for a week beat the crap out of my bladder and related piping, not that I cared, I had an epidural through all accept the removal of it, which was done in fits and starts by a student under the supervision of a teaching Nurse.  Wow, just talking about it still makes by butt pucker a little. 
My left side is still markedly weak and I am very tired which I attribute to my body putting all available resources into the healing process. I talked at length with my Brothers in the morning and partied with Jared, Jocelyn and Maggie, the Hays family, in the afternoon and our beloved Colts won.  Vanessa was at a sorority function but called for a game update and had Jocelyn text the final score to her, hokey smokes, what a fan. 
It made me sad when they had to leave, but they have full weeks ahead and I understood.  I got to take a long walk for my present state, about a city block, this afternoon.  I have pulled a small section of my incision, the product of sneezing hard yesterday so I am taking yet another day very slowly and taking a minimal pain medication regimen. 
Now Monday Morning, and I am losing track.  Three weeks since the surgery?  I wake up to much improvement but I am still very delicate and prone to pulling in the same areas so I must continue with sitting, short walking and sitting.  Oh I am so tired of this regimen.  I am thinking that just about now I would be getting the catheter out if I my surgery had been successful and resulted in a new bladder.  The pain pills distort time and perspective and I hope the effects of what I took over the weekend in the interest of mobility wear off before I have to take any more.   
Skype is now second nature as I regularly visit with Rex and Dan.  For me this alone makes the computer worthwhile and would shorten Bill Gates sentence.  Video calls, what technology.  Just imagine, the telephone was invented around the same time as the gasoline engine.  Today the telephone in it’s infinite variations bears no resemblance to it’s original form, yet the gasoline engine is easily recognizable, having it’s last core improvement, hydraulic valve lifters, introduced in 1939.  While manufacturing techniques and materials of construction have changed, it’s still the same old technology.  Imagine if all technology was put on hold to support one industry, in this case oil.  Imagine if every generation we never said what if and every attempt to change was met with overwhelming resistance.  Many would feel very comfortable in such a world, saying we have all we need today and it will sustain us forever.  They will hold to this even as the world crumbles around them.  I wish I could experience such security by turning away from all but selected inputs. 
Video calls, what’s next, a wrist watch TV?  Holy Dick Tracy. 
4:30 AM and I am grateful for the morning.  I did not sleep fitfully.  I am continuing to pass blood sporadically in very light form or small clots.  Not sure what that means but will continue to monitor.  I still feel it is related to the catheter worn for a week while in the hospital.  Snickers demanded cuddle time so I set the computer aside and allowed her up.  I will be starting work early today as I have a lot to get out and several follow up calls to make.  Great to be busy.  Again today I can feel improvement in my incision but I am still not there yet.  Man I am ready to get back into walking normally, wearing real pants and going back to the gym.  Next week is my goal but I am fearful I might not make it.  Vanessa says probably two more weeks at least.  Perhaps they will come up with nanobots today to inject in me and go after my cancers like scrubbing bubbles, leaving me cured and able to once again drink 2 beers and write my name in the snow from the motel balcony.  Miracles happen every day.