I am grateful for all the moments that I have, and I'm moving forward one step at a time to the future. - Park Bo-gum
Seven days have passed since my last article post here on the blog. Several people have wondered what happened to me. I'm here. But, at the same time, I have the feeling I'm not here.
Exactly a week ago today I had my last radiation and my last chemotherapy treatment. I had a wonderful feeling of accomplishment. I managed to get through approximately two months having my innards burned and having toxic fluids forced through my veins to attack a mass that had invaded my body and had the potential of ending my life prematurely. Now, to be honest, that possibility still exists. However, to this date, I have not received any indication that I have a “death sentence in the near future. I remain on my 46-year plan.
That being said, both my radiation and my chemotherapy doctors, who I met with the Wednesday before my last treatments, warned me that this period of recovery right after treatments ended, could be worse than anything I had experienced until then. As much as I hate to admit it, their prediction was accurate. So, here is a capsule of what has transpired since last Friday.
Saturday, Day 56, I was back in West Virginia at Carolyn's home. She drove me back on Friday afternoon after I completed the final chemo treatment. I was fatigued and exhausted beyond my own ability to comprehend it. I was also noticing I was having more challenges ingesting food and fluids, both necessities of life. For want of a better way of describing myself, I felt weaker than a wet dishcloth. I spent virtually the entire day in or on my bed resting and sleeping. A day of my life passing by.
Sunday, Day 57, was basically a repeat of Day 56. I tried to get my mind into gear and think. I wanted to write the article I missed writing on Saturday, but there was just no energy in the cranial cavity to do it. Also, I was preparing myself for the next day, Monday, when Carolyn would drive me over the 7 mountains and through the 7 valleys back to Winchester for a CT scan that had been ordered by my surgical oncologist. I wanted to drum up enough energy to stop by Judy's (who would be in Huntsville, Alabama visiting her sister who is dying of congestive heart failure) to pick up the van and drive it back to West Virginia. So, virtually little activity other than reading some emails and answering a few.
Monday, Day 58, I got a lot of sleep the night before. I got up early enough to take care of a few things. At 9:50 AM I began drinking the special Barium solution I was instructed to drink before the upcoming CT Scan. I drank the first half (it took 20 minutes) and we left for Winchester at approximately 10:10 AM. I received a call from two of my Veteran Speaker friends just after we left and had a conversation with them.
At 10:55 AM I began drinking the other half of the Barium solution as instructed and had it polished off by about 11:15 AM. We arrived at the location (not at the hospital campus) at approximately 11:50, I was 10 minutes early for my appointment. The actual CT Scan took about 10 to 15 minutes and I was walking out the door about 12:20 PM. Carolyn wanted to pick up a couple more BBQ sandwiches at our favorite place. So, we drove over. She went in and I stayed in the car. All I felt I could eat was some of their delicious Mac & Cheese. Turned out, I really couldn't eat it.
We went to Judy's, I climbed into the van and felt okay to drive the approximately 90 minutes back to Carolyn's house. She followed me. I honestly don't recall what time we left Judy's, but Carolyn said she didn't detect any issues with my driving all the way back and we made it in near-record time. I shut down the van, locked it up, walked inside and collapsed on my bed unbelievably exhausted. End of that day.
Tuesday, Day 59, I woke up feeling I could really do a few things. Turns out, I was wrong. It only took moments for me to realize I had probably miscalculated bringing the van back the day before. There are several things to look out for according to several articles I read about this “recovery period.” One, obviously, is massive fatigue. Two others are keeping stress to a minimum and depression. Well, depression is a minor issue at this time. Sure, there are a few depressing thoughts, but I do my best to keep my attitude positive and uplifted. But, I had no idea how stressful it was in my very weakened, fatigued condition it would be to drive the van the 70 miles over the 7 mountains and through the 7 valleys back to West Virginia. I was still as fatigued as I was on Monday after I got out of the van and collapsed.
The only real bright spot in that day was when the UPS man delivered the new Lenovo T470 computer I had ordered the previous Thursday. I had been hunting for the right computer and the right deal for a couple months. I found it and I acted. Now, here it was in my hands. Of course, I unpacked it, installed the second battery, plugged in the charger and turned the computer on. That was exhilarating and generated a few minutes of positive energy. And, I am composing this article on the new computer.
I was still having some challenges eating and taking in fluids. This was not good. Actually, I was finding it more difficult to swallow than before. It's not that I wasn't hungry or that I didn't like the taste or couldn't taste anything (both common side effects). I actually could taste and enjoy whatever I wanted. It was just becoming difficult to swallow and, even painful at times. Also, as soon as the elation of receiving the new computer wore off, basically, within about a half-hour, the fatigue was back and I was down for the count, again. Another day passing with me feeling like that wet dishrag.
Wednesday, Day 60, another day of massive fatigue. I did receive two uplifting and enjoyable phone calls. One was from my longest-term client and long-time friend. He is also a member of the Veteran Speakers group I've been part of for about 30 years. He actually started the group. The other was from another of the Veteran Speakers group who is also a nomadic brother. George wasn't aware of my condition. He was just calling to check in since we hadn't talked or run into each other on the road. Both calls were uplifting, energizing and inspiring. Needless to say, I need that right now.
I did work with the new computer a little, downloaded a couple programs, started configuring my dashboard, had gone out to the van and dug into the depths of my storage to find and bring in my other software CDs, manuals and keys for the software. The plan was to start loading it. That didn't happen and still hasn't. Once again the energy waned and I went back into the rest and sleeping mode. However, I had been able to start ingesting some food. I actually ate a full can of creamy tomato soup on Tuesday along with a cup of peaches. I also ate another half can of tomato soup on Wednesday and some Mac & Cheese. I believe I put down another cup of peaches and some jello. It takes me a while to eat any of these things, but one step at a time. Fluids are still a challenge, but I make my way through some smoothies.
Thursday, Day 61, was a little better day. I read for a while in the morning after I woke up. I generally and sleeping all night and go for anywhere from about 7 to sometimes 9 hours. This is good. Carolyn had to run out for a few errands. I got up and went to the kitchen, fried a batch of bacon and fried an egg with a slice of Swiss cheese melted over the top. It tasted outstanding. Carolyn got back just as I had the egg ready and was sitting down to eat it. It took a half-hour to ingest a few slices of bacon and the egg and cheese, but it felt right and good.
Once again, when I had completed making my breakfast, I was exhausted and back to resting and sleeping. I did receive another call from a friend from the Veteran Speakers group. She has been very supportive and uplifting despite dealing with a physical and some family challenges of her own. I, of course, did my best to be uplifting for her, too.
So far, you may have noticed that most of my contacts have been coming from my Veteran Speakers group friends. I have a large base of friends all over the U.S. However, I have still not made it “public” as to what has happened to me since August 18th. Even the majority of my friends in the Veteran Speakers group and my other speaker friends don't have a clue. And, those folks from my school and college days, military days, business associates, past employees, colleagues from the voice-over world I also belong to are still in the dark.
As a reader of my blog, you are aware. And, as you may recall, I'm doing this series of articles mainly as a journal so, I can keep a record of this “adventure.”
No work on the computer and mainly another resting day . . . again.
Friday, Day 62, is almost over. Today has been a better day, generally. I had a craving for some hot oatmeal with maple syrup. I got up and made it. Not the instant kind, mind you. I made the kind you have to cook and stir. I sprinkled in some craisins (cranberry raisins). It was delicious. Again, it took a while to consume it, but well worth it.
Obviously, I've been active on the new computer. I still haven't loaded any more programs on it, but I'm enjoying learning about and using all the new features on it, including the touchscreen display. It is so far advanced from my older Lenovo T420s computer. And, it's SO much faster. I'm really excited about getting it configured and getting a few things done each day.
But, the fatigue is still massive. So, I do a little then rest a lot, then do a little more, then rest a lot. These are small steps, however, they are positive steps and I feel some forward momentum. I've actually been composing this article for a little over two hours as I approach concluding it. This is the most productive period of time I've spent during the last two or three weeks and I'm feeling very good about it. Yes! I'm fatigued. However, I have been laying on my back with the laptop propped on my lap in front of me, so there hasn't been a lot of physical exertion. It's been mainly keeping my mind working.
I'll post this a little later this evening. Right now, I'm feeling some hunger, so I'm going to rustle up some chow and watch it while I challenge my brain watching Jeopardy and Alex Trebek who, himself, is fighting pancreatic cancer. Then I'll post this and probably be ready for another night of sleep.
Live free and be happy. EH