Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The First Day of the Rest of My Life – Disappointed – September 17, 2019 – Day 17

My long-time friend, Dave, from our Air Force days 50 years ago, spelled Carolyn today and drove me over the mountains and through the valleys to the Winchester Oncology Center this morning. I had to go in to have some lab work done. They do lab work before each chemotherapy treatment.

We left the West Virginia base about 8 AM and arrived at the oncology center by sometime before 9:30. I was at least an hour early. They took me right in and drew the blood and said, “See you tomorrow.” I told them I'd see them then. Then came the disappointment.

I walked across the lobby to the Radiology facilities and announced I was there for the radiology education class. And, just like the day after Labor Day, I was informed the class had been canceled due to lack of interest. Sigh! A long trip for just a 5-minute encounter with a very skilled phlebotomist. It was probably only about 9:45 AM. So, Dave and I went out to the very beautiful and peaceful patio that overlooked the pond I used to walk around some 12 or 15 years earlier. We chatted about all kinds of subjects. We watched some walkers. And, we enjoyed following the activities of a family of ducks and ducklings.

Monday, September 16, 2019

The First Day of the Rest of My Life – The Eyes Have It – September 16, 2019 – Day 16

Indeed, the eyes have it, today, Day 16, in my adventure. I had an appointment scheduled with my ophthalmologist for today. I made this appointment weeks before the, now, infamous Fireball struck me. I have the best, or at the very least, one of the very best eye docs in the region. It typically takes two to three months to get on his appointment calendar. So, you can bet I wasn't going to let anything get in the way of making this date. 

The good news is that my eyes are doing great (thankfully that's better news than the news of my gastric cavity). The nerves are good, no signs of glaucoma, my peripheral vision is very good and the one long term challenge to my eye health has not changed any. It was exactly two years ago this month when I had cataract surgery to both eyes (one week apart). And, while I still see everything fantastically, I have noticed a slight deterioration and, what I call, some flaring, especially in my left eye.

My doc said this is normal for just about everyone with cataract surgery and replacement lenses. It's caused by some cellular growth around the lenses that can spread into the visual area of the lenses. He said, at my convenience (and had his assistant make a note in my records), I can call and come in for laser treatments that will eliminate those cells. It's a simple procedure and once done, I'll never have to have it repeated. Great news. Of course, he asked about my health other than my eyes and was really set back on his heels when I told him the story of the Fireball and my current treatment routine for the Stage III cancer I'm diagnosed with.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

The First Day of the Rest of My Life – The Fireball – September 15, 2019 – Day 15

Today, on Day 15 of chronicling this new “adventure,” I'm going to spill the beans. Until now I've mainly been relating the events beginning on and since September 1st. I mentioned the real adventure began on August 18th with my first experience with being cared for by EMTs, riding in an ambulance being rushed to the hospital and experiencing an ER as a patient for the first time. It's been 28 days since the “Fireball” from the universe randomly struck me.

Let me begin by saying, my story is unique to me. However, every one of us can go back through our personal histories and relate stories about all kinds of fireballs each of us has experienced. This isn't my first. However, it may be, to date, the most dramatic, with the potential for being devastating in several ways. But, we've all had them. They might be medical, as mine currently is. They could have been physical, psychological, emotional, relational or financial. No one is immune.

So, I'm not setting myself up as being unique in this regard. I'm simply relating my unique story so that others may relate to it. Perhaps, and even better yet, hopefully, others will be uplifted, inspired and encouraged as they travel through their own life experiences.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

The First Day of the Rest of My Life – A Refreshing Downpour Followed By Sunshine – September 14, 2019 – Day 14

Day 14 has arrived and is drawing to a close. It's been a very nice day. I've felt good all day. I had a couple of extremely enjoyable and uplifting phone calls. I've taken care of a little business. I've responded to some emails. And, Carolyn and I went for a drive to a couple nearby towns (nearby in this region is typically about 25 miles away).

It has now been 27 days since the “Fireball” struck me. It's hard to believe it's been nearly a month already. So, much has happened so rapidly. Of course, the first thing I have to mention is how thankful I am to have survived the “Fireball” that turned out to be a Stage III cancer. Second, I'm thankful to be cared about by so many people who have been so supportive beginning with my friend Carolyn. I'm not sure where I'd be without her support. And, of course, there are the friends and family who know of my situation. Even today, that is only a minimal number of people. I'll let others know in the near future. Of course, there is the crack team of medical professionals who are treating me.

Friday, September 13, 2019

The First Day of the Rest of My Life – Frustration – September 13, 2019 – Day 13

The 13th day since I began chronicling my adventure with the Big “C.” It was a frustrating day. It was an aggravating day. My attitude slipped today. But, it wasn't because I wasn't feeling good. Actually, other than one slight after-effect of the first chemo treatment that isn't worth mentioning, it was because I had let something slide to the last minute – some papers I needed to get to my CPA.

Now, normally, this wouldn't be a big thing. But, because I'm operating, both my body and mind, in what I'll describe as “slow motion” due to my current state of anemia, I just couldn't get my mojo going. And, I'm sure you can relate to the idea that whenever you have a deadline to meet and you're counting on your technology, it will mess up and drive you a bit nuts. That describes my day.

I finally got the stuff done for the CPA, after his deadline. I won't go into detail. I lost a number of things on my computer as it decided to reset a number of parameters all by itself. This is an old computer. It's a very good one, but it needs to be completely reinitialized. That is a time consuming and a frustrating project that I'm just not up to at this moment.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

The First Day of the Rest of My Life – The Day After – September 12, 2019 – Day 12

The Day After . . . the day after what? It's the day after my first chemotherapy treatment. So, how do I feel? Well, other than the same low energy and stamina due to my anemia caused by my blood loss, I feel great.

So far, I am not experiencing any of the listed side-effects or after-effects of the chemo treatment. I am NOT disappointed. I'll be very pleased and happy if the rest of this adventure stays on this plane. 

However, I realize I'm only at the beginning of the trail and I haven't felt the impact of when they begin shooting me with radiation. And, of course, I'll be continuing with the weekly chemo treatments at the same time as I'm being “beamed up” with the radiation five days a week.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The First Day of the Rest of My Life – Breaking News – September 11, 2019 – Day 11

Who would ever know the greater graces of comfort and perseverance, mercy and forgiveness, patience and courage, if no shadows fell over life? - Ann Voskamp

A thought for you to ponder. Believe me, this is something I've thought about since August 18th when I got up from my bed and passed out instantly. The next thing I remember was being on the floor when I opened my eyes and Carolyn and her grandson, who was visiting that particular day and is a trained, professional EMT, were lifting me back up and onto the bed. Shortly thereafter the local EMTs arrived, stabilized me, put me in an ambulance and I was on my way to the local hospital Emergency Room.

Was it a life-changing experience. You bet it was. My life changed instantly and forever into the future. It was the first time I had passed out, been attended to by EMTs, ridden in an ambulance with the siren blasting away, been treated in an Emergency Room, had CT Scans. It was a really big day of firsts. But, here's the thing, I had absolutely no idea why this was happening to me or what was wrong with me. I've always been a pretty healthy person for most of the 74 years of my life.

I was in a huge shadow that had fallen over my life. All of a sudden I needed comfort and perseverance, mercy and forgiveness, patience and, especially, courage. For all practical intents and purposes, I lost control of ME and I was at the mercy of the unknown, the shadow. I've experienced a lot since August 18th and I'll fill in all the gaps in a future article. 

I started this series on September 1, 2019 because that, in my estimation was the day I began taking control over ME again and realizing I was at the beginning of a new adventure. I wanted to relate my experiences on this “Mr. Toad's Wild Ride” (for those who know that ride from Disney World), to inform, educate, inspire and encourage any and all who read this.