Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Happy Holidays

There are so many things that I would like to openly write about on here and then there are so many things that I probably should have kept to myself and I wrote waaaayyyy to openly about in the past.

So in an effort to be transparent about the things I should write about and mum about the things I shouldn't, here goes.  There have been biopsies, CT scans, ultrasounds, a prostatic MRI, a complete body bone scan, multiple DRE's, and more blood tests than I can remember over the last few months. I have had PSA tests run with different labs, each with "unique" results.  I have been examined by I think 6 different doctors.  Bottom line, my numbers are good right now and I am foregoing active treatment for the time being.  I already have several follow up doctor appointments for more blood tests & DRE's in the coming months.  Should any test result show a shift, we are ready to pull the trigger on radiation.  I've been given all the information my meager little brain can absorb and at the point in time, when radiation is necessary, I will most likely go with the brachytherapy option instead of the EBRT.  I feel good about the decision and at the very least, during the holiday season (yes, I said HOLIDAY and I'm NOT waging a war on Christmas), I can just try to relax and enjoy without trips back and forth to the Duke Cancer Center.

Though some may think I'm being fool hardy and should just go ahead and have the surgery (yes, I've heard that from more than one person...some people seem more than ready to tell me I'm wrong), I'm just not ready at this point to alter my anatomy and accept the repercussions.  If it becomes absolutely warranted, then of course I would.  But right now, it is not warranted.

But here we are just before Thanksgiving and just around the corner is Christmas.  This year I am going to take a few days vacation just before Christmas like I did in days of old.  This year it will be a return trip to Williamsburg.  I'm sure I'll come back with plenty of pictures of doors.  (If anyone has ever been, the doors and more specifically the wreaths on the doors at Christmas traditionally have been quite beautiful)  But door photos are not the reason for the trip.  The reason, I need a BREAK!

Unless something really unexpected or maybe something wonderful happens, I will probably forego any posts until such time as there is real news.  So, if you don't see anything on here, don't worry, that is a good sign that things are going well....or I can post photos of doors??????

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and Advent season.  Merry Christmas & Happy New Year.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Bone Scan

Bone scan results: CLEAN as a whistle!!!!  So only the prostate cancer to deal with. Next up, radiation oncologist.   Whew!!!!!!!!  Short post.  Left laptop at home by accident.   More tomorrow.
It's time to celebrate right now.

7:00a.m. Friday: now I have my laptop.  Anatomy of a Bone Scan.  Now that was an interesting experience.  Imagine this -  Adult swaddling : You lay on your back with a blanket, folded in half, wrapped around your upper torso binding and holding your arms against your sides.  Then rubber bands (yes, large rubber bands) are put around your legs and feet.  All of this is designed to hold you perfectly still.  Very mummy like.  Then the moving drawer that you are laying on slides into a tube and for the next 23 minutes you breath very slowly holding perfectly still, like you have any other choice, until the machine has scanned every bone in your body.  But lest I forget, 2 hours before the scan you are injected with a vial of something that comes in a metal box.  It all looked very top secret and radioactive.  After the injection, then I had to drink volumes of liquid to make myself urinate.  It all seemed rather counter productive to inject me with something and then attempt to flush it out.  Just kidding.  I know the purpose of the injection.  The dye was to go to the places where the possible cancer was hiding out!

All in all, while a long, long day, it went rather quickly with all the appointments on time and everyone as usual was pleasant and caring.  I saw familiar faces, had familiar conversations.

Next up, my appointment with my radiation oncologist, Dr. Koontz.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Times up...and then I wait for 2 more weeks.

It seems like the last few months I am doing nothing but hurrying up and waiting.  I saw Dr. Zhang again today at the Duke Cancer Center to get the results of the MRI to see where we stand on the prostate cancer.  Good news is that there is no evidence of any tumor(s) other than the area that we were already aware of.  We did the MRI because there was a discrepancy between the physical exam and the biopsy results.  Bottom line, the biopsy results were accurate.  No surprise there.   YAY.

On the flip side, the MRI did show a lesion on the L5 vertebrae...oh boy.  So, in 2 weeks I have a bone scan on my back followed by another visit with Dr. Zhang.  Unless something really weird happens, at that visit we will make plans as to where we go from here.  It's mostly dependent on what the bone scan shows.  If there is cancer there, that will change everything.  No cancer there, then my decision for now will most likely be what type of radiation (EBRT vs Brachytherapy) to proceed with for the prostate.

The journey continues but I'm not alone in it so that helps tremendously.  Thank you to everyone for your prayers and words of support.  They are invaluable.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

48 hours

So by noon tomorrow I should have had one of the most interesting 48 hours of my life.  It started on Tuesday morning when I had my MRI at the Duke Cancer Center.  An MRI by itself is not that "interesting".  I've had one before, in 2011 when I fractured my left foot in 2 places and tore a tendon.  However, an MRI for a man's prostate is not quite so simple.  Yes, the time frame of 45 minutes is about the same.  Yes, you get in the same type of MRI machine.  Yes, you listen to music while the machine buzzes and thumps and shakes.  And yes, you have to lie completely still during the various scans.  But there is one big difference.  If you are interested in details, just Google "prostate MRI coil" and read the description.  Imagine an inflatable portion filled with Barium as well.

So after that humiliating and extremely uncomfortable 45 minutes, I was done for that day.

Tomorrow I go back to the Duke Cancer Center for my followup appointment with Dr. Zhang.  After that I am very hopeful that I will know where I stand, for better or for worse.  Hopefully I will have treatment recommendations.  I am hopeful that the MRI did not show anymore cancer that we already knew was there, but that is a distinct possibility.  If it does, I know that another set up biopsies will be in order.  If that does have to happen, I pray it is no worse than the first procedure.  But I will have some type of pain medication for afterwards.  No more brave crap for me.  Give me drugs!!!!!

Regardless of what the news is, I will share.  Steve will be with me tomorrow for the appointment so I am not facing it alone and I am extremely grateful for that.  Say a little prayer.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

September 2015

The month of September is coming to a close and what a month it turned out to be.  On the positive side, my outlook on life was re-energized due to someone special.  I got a new pair of glasses, look to the left.  <---  Also, all in all I have felt pretty good most of the month.  On the negative side, I've had the MRI that is next week hanging over my head the entire month.  As hard as I have tried, I haven't been able to completely block that from my mind.  The MRI is Tuesday of next week at the Duke Cancer Center and then the follow up appointment with my oncologist is Thursday.  So a week from now I should pretty much know what the whole plan is, or at the very least have all the information to make a final decision.  Nervous, a little.  Anxious, a lot.

September also brought one of the worst colds I've had in a long time.  I was completely without my voice for 2 days and very raspy (as the cold came and went) for another 10 days.  It's only been the last 3 days or so that I've sounded like myself.  I'll let you decide whether sounding like myself is a good thing or a bad thing.  The tinnitus has remained a problem.  Once I have a decision made with regard to the cancer, then I can move my focus to the ringing.  Getting old and being sick sucks!

A positive note on September has also been the fact that I have gotten back to the gym.  I tried my old schedule but it just doesn't seem to fit me as well so I've been "playing" with alternative ones.  The last couple of weeks it has been a combination of lunchtime workouts and evening workouts.  That has worked, but isn't ideal.  Therefore I'm going to try a morning schedule.  If I can get up 15 minutes earlier just 3 days a week, I can get to the Y, have a full hour workout, and still have time to shower, change and be at the office on time.  That way I actually get a lunch AND I can have FREE time of an evening after work.  The only thing I would really be giving up is sitting and watching TV for an hour before work.  I can live with that....or I think I can.  So, tomorrow I will start my "new"est routine and see how it works.  Then next week I should be able to put it into complete practice.  Monday: YMCA  Tuesday: MRI  Wednesday: YMCA  Thursday: Oncologist  Friday: YMCA.  The following week, no doctors and extra sleep!  This is all in an effort to get rid of the poundage I have put on this summer and to get the waistline back to 2014 size!

To all the well wishers, thank you.  I'm in a good place and doing well.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Vacation Ramblings

Although I named this "Vacation Ramblings" it really has nothing to do with my vacation other than the vacation has given me lots of time for thinking and reminiscing.  The funny thing about reminiscing is that even though my life has been filled with lots and lots of incredibly wonderful times, it's the not so incredible ones that always seem to spring to the forefront of my brain.  I guess some would say that it's just my pessimistic outlook on life.  While that might be true as I don't argue with my somewhat dour perspective, I have had plenty of time as of late to contemplate so many things.

I know some may say it's because of my cancer diagnosis, however that would be incorrect.  While that is in my thought process, it's not the center.  I do think about it, but what I think about more are the other health issues that are going on with me.  The ones that aren't life threatening, but yet, are felt every hour of every day.  Those issues spend more time in my brain than the cancer.  But even more than my health, it's the memories that fill the vast emptiness that is my brain.  I was watching (actually just half listening) to a show on TV over the weekend and although my attention was on the game of Spider Solitaire that I was playing, all of a sudden I heard someone on TV say something to the effect of, "what is the point of life if you don't have something to look forward to?" (I'm paraphrasing).  Even though I wasn't paying attention to the show, it stopped me in my tracks.  The show continued, but I just sat there, thinking.  Now don't go getting alarmed or anything like that.  I'm not suicidal.  It just stuck with me and I started playing over my current life.  What do I have?  I have a job.  Although I like it, it's hardly a "reason to live".  I have a small family.  I love them, but I can't "live for them".  I have friends.  Again, I love them, but I don't see them all that often, so no reason there.  My life consists of sleeping, working and watching TV.  My former life consisted of so much more.  Yes, the center of that was Joe.  But he was a pretty darn good center.  He centered me.  He made me want to get up each day.  He made me happy.  Again, I know, you don't count on someone else for your happiness.  You make your own happiness.  That's what I did.  I made a life with and it was happy one.  That's where my focus needs to be.

So what do I do?  I can't pretend away the physical problems.  I can mask the aches/pains with medication, but then that's all I will do as I can't function very well.  So do I need to just suck it up and work through it?   Do I pretend that I'm fine being alone?  That's more sucking it up.   Or do I change everything?  That means lots of doctors visits.  The cancer?  I either radiate it, slam it with chemicals or cut it out.  At this point, any of the options are ok.  They don't scare me.  They don't worry me (much).  What worries me is all the other crap.  All the other aches, ringing and pains.  No one told me as a kid that just getting older brought all these aches & pains.  Arghhhhhhh

And then there is the real cruz of the matter.  The being alone.  If you hurt and there's someone there to rub your shoulders it helps.  If you're sad and there's someone there to put their arm around you, it helps.  If you're emotional and there is someone there to listen, it's awesome.  I can't "do" anything about the health woes other than make a decision based upon the doctors advice.  What I can "do" is follow my heart when it leads me to someone who is kind, gentle, funny, and loving.  Truly open myself up to the possibility.  I think I might have just done that.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Delayed MRI

A little stumble along the way to getting my MRI done.  After more discussion with Dr. Zhang and the urologist at Duke we have decided to delay the MRI by 4 weeks.  Not that there is a problem, however since the biopsies there has been blood in the prostate (a very typical response to the biopsy procedure - you can Google it, I did).  Because of the blood, the doctors were concerned that the MRI picture would not be clear.  No need to do an MRI if going into it they know there will be an issue.  Not to mention, insurance will NOT cover 2 MRI's in a short period of time and I don't want to add that expense.  (check pricing folks if you don't have an idea of what they cost)  Therefore, we have moved my scheduled MRI from August 24th to September 29th.  That should be plenty of time for the blood to be gone.  Just a minor glitch in the plan, but otherwise moving forward.  On the plus side, that that means that my cancelled vacation plans for the week of August 24th are now BACK ON!  WooHoo!!!!!!

I'm still feeling fine from all of this with the exception of this dang ringing in the ears from tinnitus.  That is more disconcerting at this point that the cancer.  At least with the cancer there are treatment options.  This ringing is just grin & bare it!  Oh well, we all have our trials and tribulations.  My shoulders are broad enough to carry it.

Thank you for all the words of support & encouragement.  Your well wishes are greatly appreciated.