Archive for July, 2008

Chemotherapy Cycle 1, Day 23.

Temperature: 36.5 deg C.

By mouth:

  • Acetominophen
  • Ativan
  • Tim Tams (mood elevation)

Today’s the last work day for me before the Canadian long weekend. IBM has a “floater” holiday tomorrow and Monday is BC Day. Cass is taking Friday off too so we’re leaving on our sailboat Darwin’s Folly tomorrow afternoon and returning on Monday.

I’ve come to realize that there are some who may think that the gist of the boat’s name is that we believe that Charles Darwin was wrong. This couldn’t be more incorrect. Even staring into the black cancer void I remain an evolutionist, a libertarian, and an atheist. I have no problem with anyone else’s belief system as long as they don’t shove it up my nose. I feel I am diligent and serious about not doing the same to others with my own belief system. The boat’s name is just a comment on how such a lame and bizarre species as homo sapiens has evolved to hold the fate of the world in its hands. And in particular how such modest life forms as myself and Cass have evolved to sail such a beautiful boat over the ocean. Really, Otis the dog is probably better qualified. So that, in our opinion, is Darwin’s Folly.

If the evil lumps hadn’t come to make our lives a misery, this weekend would have been the beginning of our two week summer cruise. We did a two week cruise for the first time last year and I don’t think I’m going out on a limb by saying that it was the best vacation in our lives so far. In company with our friends Gord, Janet, and their little dog Tucker on their boat Mira Vela, we cruised to the Sunshine Coast, up Jervis Inlet and through Malibu Rapids to Princess Louisa Inlet.

This year we’ll meet them for only the first few days of their trip and then return home while they head up to the Broughtons. I have to stay close to town for chemo and in case something happens with me. Also, I’m not really up to a long cruise. The thought of it is seductive. The mind is willing but the body truly is weak.

So, this is the last post until Monday, August 4th. Enjoy your summer long weekend fellow Canucks, and for those readers outside of these blessed borders, up yer nose with a piece of maple sugar.

“On second thought , let’s not go to Camelot. ‘Tis a silly place.” Arthur in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.


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Chemotherapy Cycle 1, Day 22.

Temperature: 36.7 deg C.

By mouth:

  • Benadryl (to help me sleep)

I shave this morning for the first time since Sunday morning… three days growth. However, my beard hasn’t grown in quite the way I’m used to and I get the smoothest shave I’ve had in a while. I have the feeling it won’t be growing in that fast anymore. Which is strange… but in some ways cool. Daily face shaving is one of those ugly male grooming tasks from which I won’t mind taking a break. However, I can’t help feeling like I’m going through some kind of strange reverse puberty. Luckily my voice is still deep, for now. <squeak>

My hair isn’t falling out in clumps but it’s fairly tenuously attached. A small pull will yield 4 or 5 hairs so it won’t take too long before I’m pretty patchy. Hey patchy!

Now that it looks like I’m going to be a baldy, I’m trying to figure out why it’s bugging me. I’m not particularly vain… though it’s nice that Cass thinks I look tolerable. She just likes to be sure I’m not wearing orange pants and a purple shirt that clash so badly they strobe. Usually she gets me fixed up before she lets me out the door… it would reflect badly on her if she didn’t I suppose. It think it’s because I’ve known I’m very ill because four different doctors and all the CT scans and biopsy results say I am. I’ve felt ill. Since I’ve started the chemotherapy I’ve felt like crap for at least 50% of the time. But up until now I haven’t looked ill. And that’s about to change… and for some reason it matters.

“Getting ideas is like shaving: if you don’t do it every day, you’re a bum.” Alex Kroll

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Tom’s hair has finally started to fall out.

We now return you to our regularly scheduled programming.

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The Sound of Lumps

Chemotherapy Cycle 1, Day 21.

Temperature: 36.7 deg C.

By mouth:

  • Benadryl (to help me sleep)

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Lymphoma
(sung to the tune of “How do you Solve a Problem like Maria” with apologies to Rodgers & Hammerstein)

There’s lumps in me, I want to flee
some bad malignant mass
The CT scan reveals a lump
the size of J. Lo’s ass
And in my stupid kidneys
uric acid’s gotta pass
Lymphoma really makes me fuckin’ crabby!!

I’m always late for chemo
but my nausea is real
All my food tastes really weird
I’d rather skip each meal
I hate to have to say it
but I very firmly feel
Lymphoma’s not an asset to my body!

I’d like to say a word on its behalf
Lymphoma, feels like crap. (tee hee hee hee hee)

How do you solve a problem like Lymphoma?
How do kick the cancer bitch’s ass?
How do you find a word that means Lymphoma?
Some serious shit? A bucket of crap? A plague?

How do you solve a problem like Lymphoma?
How do you hold your stem cells in your hand?

“Exhilaration is that feeling you get just after a great idea hits you, and just before you realize what’s wrong with it.” Rex Harrison

“Working with Julie Andrews is like getting hit over the head with a valentine.” Christopher Plummer.

“Most of my life I have played a lot of famous people but most of them were dead so you have a poetic license.” Christopher Plummer

“It’s been fashionable to make fun of THE SOUND OF MUSIC even before it came out, when, during its filming, Christopher Plummer reportedly referred to it sneeringly as The Sound of Mucas.” reviewer Jay Dickson

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Chemotherapy Cycle 1, Day 20.

Temperature: 36.6 deg C.

By mouth:

  • Benadryl (to help me sleep)

I’m still very tired today and suffering from an achy bod. Sigh. Fun, fun, fun. I’m able to manage about a half a day of work and then spend the rest of it hanging out.

I’ve discovered that one of the most predominant and ugly symptoms of Hodgkin’s lymphoma seems to be an almost irresistible urge to blog. Try a google search with some search arguments like “blog”, “lymphoma” and “Hodgkin’s” and you will discover thousands of hits with hundreds of them being actively updated by patients like me. Obviously I am not immune.

Cassie is addicted to them. I imagine most cancer patient caregivers are. She will spend hours each evening surfing the web to see how all the bloggers are managing, what courses of treatment they are receiving, comparing their experience to my experience, and measuring their hopes for survival against mine. This is totally natural and understandable. She hopes to gain some understanding of what the future will hold for us and what the possible outcomes might be.

I’m different. I’m not sure if that is because I am the patient versus the caregiver or if it’s just because of a difference in our personalities. I can’t look at them at all. It makes me sick to read them. I’m only interested in the facts, issues, and possible outcomes in relation to my case specifically. I find it comforting to reread my old blog entries because it gives me some feeling of context in relation to the ground I have already covered. But other than that, if I’m surfing, I’m surfing sites that have information about sailboats, truck maintenance, comfortable shoes, diesel engines, and naked women. Among other things.

But what’s the deal with all the lymphoma bloggers? Here’s the best I can do with it. Lymphoma isn’t painful in most of it’s stages. If you were in the grips of some cancer where you had to take massive amounts of pain medication, the amount of focus required to write a weblog would be unattainable.

But here’s what I think is the main cause of all the blogging. It’s hope. I’ve added a link to a previous post where I discuss “why hope is bad” in detail. I think lymphoma patients want to blog so much because they are cancer patients and therefore are looking directly into the void. However, because of the hope for recovery that is offered to them compared to many other cancers, they are driven to record their thoughts and feelings. This way there will be a record and so that their family and friends can follow their likely (and expected) recovery. And perhaps a little vanity… “look at me, I’m fighting cancer, aren’t I brave!”. If I was in constant pain and truly had little chance of living longer than a few months, I honestly don’t think I would be in the mood to write. But that’s just one lump’s brutally honest blog-pinion.

“Through a blog, an ordinary citizen such as myself can use the Internet, this thing invented by Albert Gore, to talk from my house to the U.S. capital and to make use of my right to point out to government officials and to the media when they are wrong.” John Jay Hooker

“An ignorant person with a bad character is like an unarmed robber, but a learned person with a blog is a robber fully armed.” Mickey Kaus

“Well, there are more writers of blogs right now than there are readers, so that’s clearly a vanity phenomenon.” John Doerr

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Chemotherapy Cycle 1, Day 19.

Temperature: 36.8 deg C.

By mouth:

  • Benadryl (to help me sleep)

We have a little scare last night. We go out for Indian food and when we come home and get in bed I take my temperature. It shows 37.6 deg C which is nothing to worry about for those not taking chemotherapy. However, for the chemo-nation, 38.0 deg C is the danger threshold for reasons I have discussed at length in a previous post. So, we are just 0.4 deg C from possible trouble. I manage to get to sleep and snooze for a while but Cass can’t sleep. She wakes me up at about 12:30am to take my temperature. I am down to 36.9 deg C so it looks like it’s a false alarm. Whew.

We’re not sure why my core temperature is up a bit since it has been quite steady for the last 2.5 weeks. One theory we have is that the spice in the curry might have caused an increase in my metabolic rate and raised my temperature a little. It was also really hot in the house. Anyway, it looks like there was nothing to worry about after all. This time anyway.

Today we are out and about checking out new barns for our horse. We have got notice to move him out of his home of the last five years rather abruptly but it’s not really a bad thing. We’re ready for him to move on anyway. After checking out the possible new barn we go for Dim Sum and now are loafing in front of the tube. In an hour or so we will take Otis to the dog park for a run then home for dinner.

“Guess what?! I’ve got a fever, and the only prescription… is more cowbell!” Christopher Walken as Bruce Dickinson on Saturday Night Live

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Chemotherapy Cycle 1, Day 18.

Temperature: 36.6 deg C.

By mouth:

  • Senokot S
  • Benadryl (to help me sleep)
  • Ativan

Saturday morning. I’m feeling a little better than yesterday. We hang out and then go out for brunch. I’m not having any nausea this time, though I would say that my fatigue and chemobrain are incrementally worse than last treatment.

We go out for dinner at an Indian restaurant in town. It is run by a family that had moved from India to Africa and then finally to Canada. The curry is wonderful. It’s Indian dishes but with an African spin… the spices have an African style.

We’re back at home now. Another Saturday night of wild and reckless abandon. “Pulp Fiction” is on the tube and I will shortly be asleep. That’s my life down in the lumps.

“Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son.” Dean Vernon Wormer in Animal House

“Bluto: Over? Did you say “over”? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!
Otter: Germans?
Boon: Forget it, he’s rolling.” Dialogue from Animal House

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