Coyote Chemo Chronicles Cycle 5

Again playing catch up … Doing a writing marathon really…
Like I said in my last post, the fatigue is settling in so no energy, and when I do have energy for doing stuff, the motivation just isn’t there. But I do have drafts of them all and will do my best to push them all out ASAP, since I finally have the motivation to do so!

5 May 2022

Now I’m definitely in a routine! Up early, shower, get lift to CUH, wander around until a kind soul leads me to the stairs to the Dunmanway Day Unit. I go up to the receptionist with my arms open wide; “I am here for my spa appointment!” I exclaim. “Can I get the little fishies that nibble at your feet before the mud bath this time?” … One receptionist giggled under her breath. The other just asked me if anything had changed since my last appointment. Ah well, at least I got a giggle.

They gave me the covid questionnaire and I waited for the triage Nurse to collect me and run me through the gamut. I waited for about an hour this time, which I wasn’t bothered by. I mean, what else was I going to be doing that day? The triage Nurse came and got me. And started taking my vitals. … DAMN! I gained more weight! Aren’t you suppose to be losing weight during chemo? Not that I would recommend chemo as a weight loss program, but really? All my bloods were up. Again, the blood work showed that I’m healthier than when I first started. … But then SNAP! My blood pressure was really high! 160 something! They said that they will give it a while and they will take it again. So I was spun out onto a recliner and waited. They took my blood pressure again, though down to 150 something they still were concerned. So they brought in a Doctor to see whether or not I was going to go through with the days treatment!

After about another hour or so, what they decided was that I was going to have 2 of the 3 poisons and skip the 3rd. Apparently that particular poison cuts off the blood supply to the cancer cells. By doing so, it can increase your blood pressure. This bothered me. I don’t want there to be any delays in my treatments. I don’t want to make up for lost time. I want these treatments and my cancer to be done with ASAP! I was in a bit of a panic when I talked to the Doctor, but she assured me that the only reason for any delay is if the mid term scans shows up something that needs to be addressed. Skipping a poison now doesn’t mean that I will have to make it up later. … OK … Still not feeling the best about it, but it is what it is. They up the dosage of my blood pressure medication and will see how it all works out for next time.

That was about all the excitement for the day. I was wiped out and slept for most of my treatment! I don’t know if it was the fatigue or the excitement of high blood pressure, but I was out like a light! Everything was routine after that. I got my bottle attached. Went home and crashed for 2 days. Got the bottle off on the Saturday, by yet a different Nurse. Went home and crashed again! The fatigue was really making a play this go around!

The days after were plagued with naps. I’m not talking a 15 min nap here, a 10 min nap there. I’m saying that I would fall asleep anywhere from 2hrs to 6hrs in the middle of the day! It was a struggle at times just to have the energy to get up and pee. … Oh gosh, the constipation. It was getting painful! The pins and needles, again lasting longer. All I want to do is sleep. My hand and foot syndrome is getting worse.

And yet a new development! A rash on my ankles! Heat Rash! I’ve always been prone to heat rashes … WHEN the temp gets up in the 90F/30C. But not when it’s in the 70F/ 19C range. I’ve become so sensitive to heat AND cold!

But hey, yah know. On the opposite weeks of my chemo? Apart from the fatigue, I’m doing alright!

Coyote Chemo Chronicles Cycle 4

Still playing catch up…
Again, very late in posting this …
It’s been hard. Even if I have the energy, the motivation isn’t there …
At least I have drafts of all these, so it’s just a matter of shoring them up for posting …


21 April 2022

I got the routine down now. I’m up early enough to take a shower, because the next time I’ll be able to, is 2 days later on Saturday when they take the baby bottle of chemo off. Thank Goodness that all I have planed for those 48 hrs is to take naps, daydream, and maybe eat something … I get picked up by the service that the Irish Cancer Society provides. They drop me off at CUH A&E. I go in and wander around the labyrinth that is CUH, until some Nurse, Doctor, … etc… takes pity on me and leads me to the the staircase that goes up to the Dunmanway Day Unit. Reception checks me in, I fill out the covid questionnaire, and I sit and wait with my sheet of labels all reminding me of my name, address, and birthday.

I’m at a loss this time. I usually have something prepared to harass the nurses with, but today I had nothing. Figured I’d have to wing it. Hopefully something will come up. … Well, the triage nurse went and scooped me up and took all my vitals in a flash. Next thing I knew I was sitting in the recliner knocking my shoes together. The nurses were all smiles and in good form. They hooked me up to the first bag of poison and that was that …

I sat staring before I decided to start sketching. Just cherry blossoms … Well, maybe apple blossoms, or maybe some other tree blossom …

So I’m sketching along, when the nurse come up and says; “Oh! You’re a ‘lefty’!” … I looked and my left hand holding the pencil and screamed! I dropped the pencil and picked up with my right hand and resumed sketching. “Whew!” I said; “Thank Goodness!” … The nurse was stunned! …3…2…1 … Ah! There we go! She figured it out and started to giggle as she left to attend another patient.

I continued on with the sketching. Started snoozing a bit. The nurses hooked me up to the 2nd bag of poison. And I continued to sketch and snooze. Then the pump started beeping and beeping and beeping… I gave it a couple of soft knocks … I don’t know why, I just did. … When I saw the Nurse come out of the Nurses station, I started talking into the pump; “I’ll have a Big Mac, Large Fries … Hello!? Hello!!?? … ” I knocked on the pump again. “Hello!? … I’ll have a Big Mac, Large … Nurse! Nurse! It won’t take my order! Nurse! …” The Nurse comes by and just rolls her eyes at me as she taps out the bubbles in my I.V. . “… But it wouldn’t take my order …” I said with the most pained look on my face that I could muster. She just shook her head and smiled. … I guess she heard the joke before … Or didn’t think it was all that funny. … I thought it was funny, and so did the other patients … At least she smiled!

Well, after the 2nd bag of poison was done it was time for the baby bottle of chemo to be attached. I was pretty wiped out by then. So there was only idle conversation while they did the flush and pump before attaching the bottle. Then I was done. Got the lift back home and crashed. I can’t say that I remembered much. Mostly just slept.

On the Saturday when I got my bottle removed there was a yet another new nurse. His name was Rodney. It was so sweet and a little funny. He was so so careful in taking the bottle off. As you already know the port is just above my right boob. He tried so hard to not touch my boob. He tried so hard not to even look at my boob directly! When he was removing the tape, he did it little by little carefully cleaning. It was so endearing! The women Nurses just rip the damned thing off. They’re not concerned if they knock my boob a bit when they are taking the needle out of the port. It’s all par for the course! Rodney was sweet! I do appreciate his caution!

In the days afterward, again the cumulative effects were building. I’ve been taking magnesium supplements so that took care of the paralysis in my hands. The pins and needles were lasting longer almost a week! The constipation is getting worse. I’ll have to tell them about it next time. And I was losing more and more of my hair. … A new thing, my skin started turning a darker colour around my fingers and toes … I’m getting these strange brown spots too…

So another thing I’ll have to let them know about.

But lucky enough, I was up and running for the most part by the time my best friend came to visit me here in Ireland. I had not seen her since 2017! It was a Wonderful Weekend! To top it all off, the Great Love of My Life was made public by him! And Goodness do I love him so!

Coyote Chemo Chronicles Cycle 3

Again very late in posting this. I just haven’t had the motivation or the focus to do much of anything. All my energy for these things was going into chasing down benefits and a paycheck. But that’s finally all sorted and now I can get on with things and enjoy my recovery. I’ve taken good notes, and my memory is good still … At least I think it is … Anyway … Let’s get on with it!

7 April 2022

On the day I’m up early enough to take a shower and get ready for my lift at 8 am. It’s a great service that the Irish Cancer Society have, giving free lifts to peoples chemo treatments. I go and I get checked in. It was a short wait this time. The triage nurse comes and gets me, and sets about getting my vitals. I get weighed, and goodness! I’ve gained weight! I thought you were suppose to lose weight during this process!? Unfortunately my blood pressure was a little high. So they had to call the Doctor on duty to approve on of the chemo treatments.

While I waited for the Doctor, I asked the triage nurse what were my stats on my blood work. She was very good and looked it up for me. As she was going through the list, I was getting excited! Iron was up, platelets were up, T Cells were up, everything was up! The nurse commented that my blood work is better now than when I first started! I gave her a wide eye’d look and exclaimed; “I AM GETTING SUPERPOWERS!” She had a good chuckle!

“I suppose you are!” She said back.

I went out into the day unit and pick my recliner. Put out and arranged my journal and pencils, phone, and whatnots for my 4 hr stay. One of the nurses came and gave me a pee vial. So I was able to get that done straight off. There were a lot of very sick people in the unit, so I had to roll back on all my joking around. I didn’t want to make light of their situations. Of our situation. So I sketched, and perused social media. Messaged people too.

Because my blood pressure was high, they had me sit for awhile. And awhile more. They took my blood pressure again and it was still high. So I sat for awhile longer still. Finally the Doctor came by took my blood pressure again. Still high, but the Doctor said to go ahead with the treatment as it was just under the threshold. After nearly 3 hours, they went ahead with the treatment.

Well of course, about mid way through I had to go pee again. I swear I have the bladder the size of a peanut. I unplug the IV pump and wheeled it over to the toilets. But my pump had a wonky wheel and I’m struggling to not get my IV lines tangled. I managed to get in the toilets, do my business and get back out again. But the wheel seemed to get even wonkier as I tried to wheel it back to my recliner. I stopped in the middle of the unit and yelled at the pump; ” I SWEAR! YOU ARE LIKE THE WORST DANCE PARTNER EVER! THE WORST!” It started beeping at me! “Oh! Talking back at me!? That’s it! You’re getting plugged back in!” And I toddled off back to my recliner happy. I managed a few chuckles from the patients.

The rest of the day went as the other two did. Though I was a bit more shaky after this one than the last 2. I came home and sat out in the back garden. Just sitting and daydreaming for the rest of the day, then went to bed early.

When I woke up in the morning and put my fingers through my hair, I pulled out, not a clump necessarily but a fair amount of hair. So I guess this is where it begins. Through out the day every time I ran my fingers through my hair I would get a hand full of hair coming out. So I would twist it into a string and then tie it into a knot to throw it away.

I would and have been doing this several times a day, each day. Thank goodness I’m literally not attached to my hair! I think that if I have any hair left after my 6th cycle, mid way through, I’ll have it cut short. A flippy bobbed cut. Then when my chemo is over, I’ll have my head shaved. That way all the new hair that comes in will be fresh and new.

The cumulative effects were certainly noticed in the days after. Especially the pins and needles and unfortunately the temporary paralysis in my hands. It seemed like random times, one or the other hand would just curl in and cramp. I would have to force my hand to stretch back out, and then open and close a fist to work out the cramp. I also started getting head aches, but they would go away after awhile. And my nose was drying out so I got a lot of crusty bloody boogers. Despite all that, when the chemo bottle is taken off and the 5 or so days after the treatment, apart from the fatigue, I actually feel better physically than before I started treatments.

Coyote Chemo Chronicles Cycle 2

I’m really late in posting this … Goes to show how the chemo can run you down, even after just 2 cycles …

24 March 2022

Round 2!

I get checked in and wait for the triage nurse to come and take my vitals and whatnots. I really have to pee, but I don’t. I know that they’ll ask me for a urine sample, AFTER I’m hooked up to all my chemo super powers drip feeds, trying to hold a skinny vial under a gushing stream of pee while managing drip feed lines is rather problematic. I’m holding it and will tell the nurse that I’m ready to pee, so give me the vile before I get hooked up! … And I’m waiting. … I have to pee … Still waiting … Have to pee … An hour later still waiting … I really have to pee … FINALY! The triage nurse calls me in!

“I know that I need to give a urine sample, and I really have to go now, so …”

“OK.” She interrupts “Just go take a seat in there.” She points to the triage room.

BUT I HAVE TO PEEEEEEE! I’m screaming to myself. I go anyway and sit, sulking in triage. My teeth are dancing at this point. The nurse comes back and starts taking my vitals. I still had to pee. She gets me up on the scale to get my weight. I gained weight! Go Figure! I had to pee! Then another nurse walked by and shouted in; “Watch out for your one, she’s looking to rob the super powers from the press!”

Wait!? What!? … OMG THEY DO HAVE SUPER POWERS! … Looks like I already have a reputation to maintain!

The triage nurse is done with me, tells me to go sit in one of the recliners and leaves before I could ask to get freakin’ pee vial so I can Pee! I’m desperate now. I grab the first person that walks by with a badge and say; “I need to pee NOW! PLEASE! Give me a vial!”

“Right!” She says. Goes into the cabinet in the room and hands me a vial. NOW WAS THAT SO HARD!? Goodness Gracious! …

Anyway, I get the job done, handed off my pee and got comfy in one of the recliners. Another nurse gets me all hooked up for the 1st dose that takes about 2 hours. I’m doing my sketches, checking messages, got some coffee and ginger nuts, thinking how am I going to get that nurse!

Then one that warned the triage nurse. Just then she walks into room to get something out of the supply cabinet.

“I heard there was a press full of super powers!” I said a bit louder than I should have … On purpose, of course. All the patients in the ward break out laughing. Then one yells out; “I’ll take the top shelf super powers!” We all had another round of laughter while the nurses head caught on fire. It was all good, she was chuckling too.

The 1st dose was done and now the 2nd dose was hooked up. This one was only going to take an hour this time. Before it was an hour and a half, and next time it’ll only be a half hour. I was taking a break from sketching and texting, and was sitting on my hands knocking my shoes together like a little kid. I think it was a Doctor that walk by and just stopped and glared at me. I’m not sure why she was glaring at me, maybe because I was knocking my shoes together? I took my hand out and folded them under my chin, squeezed my eyes shut. I knocked my shoes together and said; “There’s no place like home! There’s no place like home! There’s no place like home!” I opened my eyes and looked around, and dropped my head. “Darn.” I said “I’m still here.”

She actually chuckled and said; “Looks like your shoes are broken!”

2nd dose done, and the chemo bottle hooked, I’m sent home on a really nice sunny day. Nice enough for me to spend the rest of the day outside in the back garden just basking in the sun.

25 March 2022

Anticipating the constipation, I took a Movicol sachet, and ate handfuls of dried apricots … Didn’t really help much but at least it wasn’t as bad as the last time. It was another warm sunny day, so the sensitivity to the cold wasn’t as apparent. The nausea was worse this time around, but still manageable. But spent another day out sitting and taking naps in the sun.

26 March 2022

Got the bottle taken out today. Again, it was in and out. The nurse laughed at how much tape was used to keep the little generator touching my skin. She said that I must have come from CUH because they always use A LOT of tape!

Afterward, I went straight to a meeting/think tank about environmental sustainability. I was still shaky from the chemo, but happy that I was aware enough to make a few contributions! I was absolutely wrecked afterward though. The nausea was still a problem, and the fatigue was taking over. So I basically went to bed really early, like around 7pm.

27 March 2022

Today was a busy busy day. I had the Cork Repair Café to set up, and a Zoom seminar. There weren’t a lot of people that came to the repair café, but we did a lot of networking, making many connections. The Zoom seminar caught me by surprise as in I forgot all about it until after the repair café. I was totally wrecked, but still soldiered through the seminar with Grand Master Sin Kwang Thé. We were learning Duck Tai Chi and Mulan Rings! I couldn’t pass it up. Not even with my cancer could I pass it up! Because it was being taught in the US the start time was 7pm here in Ireland. It ran until 1am. But it was well worth it!

28 March 2022

I did too much over the weekend! TOO TOOOOOO MUCH! I was so wiped out today, that I just slept for most of it.

My nose started bleeding. It wasn’t running out. Just when I blew my nose there’ll be blood. And my hair started falling out in small clumps. They said that I wouldn’t lose my hair completely, but it will thin out. Thank goodness I’m both literally and figuratively not at all attached to my hair. I figure, that I’ll go and get a pixie haircut, or a short bob halfway through the chemo. Then when the chemo is done once and for all, shave my head! That way, all the hair that grows will be fresh and new!

~*~*~*~

Everything started to revert to some kind of normal afterward. Back to the humdrum, back to the daily grind, back to fighting with the bureaucracy, back to trying to live a life worth living.

Coyote Chemo Chronicles Cycle 1

10 March 2022; Day 1:

This is it! I’m going in! 1st Cycle of Chemo. Got a lift from my landlady and I’m there! … In the wrong department. … Wait? What? … Go upstairs! Go upstairs! I’m late now! Where upstairs! Stairs are locked! Lifts! Elevator! Where’s the elevator!?! I’m late! Find the elevator, next floor up, plops me out in front of the Dunmanway Day Centre where I will get my first set of chemo drugs and hooked up to the chemo bottle that will administer more chemo over the course of 48hrs.

I was only a few minutes late. I know, why am I rushing? Well, at this point, after all the hymning and hawing, the wait for this and that, I just wanted to get on with it, before I changed my mind. … I signed in, and waited for nearly and hour before the triage nurse brought me in to take my vitals. I wasn’t complaining. This gave me time to really settle in to what was going to be done to me for the next 6 months or more. It gave me time to remember what it felt like to feel better than I have been for a long time. If anything, so I can compare it to, if or when I make it through to the other side of all this.

The triage nurse calls me in, takes all my vitals and very thoughtfully explains the procedure that I will be undergoing. “Do you have any questions?” She asks in the most caring way.

“Yeah, I .. I do. … I’ve asked before but I haven’t gotten a straight answer …” I pause, looking at floor for a moment before looking back up and asking; “Will I get any kind of super powers from this?”

“Wha … What? … What do you mean?” The very confused triage nurse asks. …*1…2…3… Ding!* “Oh!” She rolls her eyes and giggles.

Ahhh come on everyone! Don’t be angry with me! I know many of you, as well as many of my friends are upset that I’m being so cavalier about my illness, because it is cancer after all. I don’t mean to make light of the situation … No no no, I do mean to make light of the situation. As I’ve said over and over again. There’s no amount of crying, worry, anger that’s going to change any of this, so might as well enjoy the ride in this hand basket barreling South with no air conditioning!

… I’m not dismissing the gravity of my situation by doing so… Anyway, onward with my antics, ‘coz why the hell not!

I get cozy in a recliner next to the window. I wanted to feel the sun. It was another hour before the nurses were able to tend to me. In the mean time, they did come around with coffee, tea and biscuits! When the nurses came around, they have to ask several times, name, address, date of birth, to make sure the paperwork all lines up and that they give you the right meds. When this really beautiful young nurse with a country accent, flaxen hair and big baby blue gems for eyes askes me what my date of birth is. I tell her! She exclaims back; “We have the same birthday!” I Yell; “Yes! Awesome! GAWD! You look GREAT for a 50 year old! What’s your secret!” *…1…2…3…Ding!* She laughs and rolls her eyes!

I couldn’t stop there! I was on a roll!

My Nurse Liaison was attending to me today. They were short at the day centre so she came down and did a shift to help out. She administered the bulk of my Deadpool poisons. As she’s prepping my port for the needle, I tell her that I’d like to go for the Dragon option. She gives me a confused look. “So, over the next 6 months or so when they put in the needles for the chemo, can you let them know that I like the scar to look like the smaller version of your Dragon option. If you can’t do the smaller version of it, then I’ll do your dragon fly option, but bigger. That should be easier …” I continued. It was so hilarious! She stopped swapping the port area and nearly glared at me! “ARE YOU MESSING!?!” She scolded! I was laughing so hard I nearly popped my staples from my surgery 6 weeks prior! …

I’d have thought that they would have run across twisted gits like me, but I guess not, or not so often to remember. But wouldn’t that be really neat!? There’s going to be a significant scar where the port is implanted in my chest. So wouldn’t it be really neat if they can some how shape the scar from the get go to look like a dragon, or a daisy or hummingbirds ‘er whatever!?!

The rest of the time I sat and sketched and checked my phone and messaged people while they changed one I.V. bag after anther. They came around and gave me a chicken bacon sandwich and coffee. I chatted with the nurse assistant about Blankets For Hope. Volunteers make blankets for cancer patients. I’m thinking that now I have a very good reason to buy more yarn/wool. When all the I.V. bags were done, a nurse came by and hooked up the chemo bottle which looks just like a baby bottle! … Sorry, I didn’t even think of taking a picture of it for you to see. I will next time. … Once the bottle was hooked up, I was done! Good to go!

I was told what all the sensations that I might be feeling; pins and needles, nausea, fatigue, etc… I have felt all of those before but not in the way I felt them after the chemo bottle was hooked up!

As I was waiting for my lift home, my eyelashes, not my eyes, or eyelids, but my eyelashes, felt sticky and I swear each one of them weight 20lbs! Then my lips seem to cease up into a pucker and I would have to force them back. When I got home, there was a point where my hands and fingers were ceasing up. I would have to keep moving them just so I knew I still could. Oh GAWD! Then there’s the dreaded cold toilet seat! UGH! It felt like I sat and wiggled my butt in a nettle patch! It was horrible! But all the same it was so very interesting! It was all so new to me. I was taking mental notes of every experience. I’m not saying that it was at all enjoyable, not in the slightest. But it was exciting to experience something very new.

11 March 2022; Day 2:

Honestly, I don’t remember much from this day. I was flat out wrecked. I woke up at 9 am. Took the meds, made Sprites breakfast. Had some porridge. Messaged people, then went back to bed. I woke up again around 5 or 6 pm. Richard had gone out and bought me a steak and cooked it up for me. I ate half of it, when the nausea started to kick in, though it wasn’t bad. I wasn’t in any pain. Weak, tired, and very sensitive to anything colder than room temperature. It would trigger the pins and needles. At some point during the day I got a phone call telling me when to show up at South Doc to have my chemo bottle removed and disposed of.

12 March 2022; Day 3:

Today my chemo bottle comes off. It was a consistently rainy day. I slept until 9:30ish. Again got up, took meds, ate some porridge, made Sprites lunch. I changed into day clothes and waited for my lift to South Doc. My lift arrived and delivered me there. While the nurse was prepping the flushes and whatnot, the next appointment came really early. There was a 6 Nation Ruby Match on later that afternoon. Ireland vs England. The nurse and I teased that the reason why he came so early was so that he could get his appointment in before the match. We teased more saying that it might be the best way to a man to do things quickly – schedule it just before a match!

The nausea was worse, but I was prescribed 2 anti-sickness meds, and they seem to do the trick. The really bizzare thing was that for the first time in my life, I was constipated! I’m not joking! I’ve never been constipated! And sure enough what do the doctors prescribe!? That’s right! Loperamide Imodium for chemo induced diarrhea! … Thank goodness, I had some Movicol that was prescribed for me after my surgery for constipation which I didn’t need then because I had diarrhea! … I do think that I might be some kind of alien creature. I’m having nearly the opposite side affects of every one that is predicted. Anyway, if I had to choose between the 2? I would pick diarrhea over constipation! At least with diarrhea it’s done and over with in just a matter of seconds, where constipation? … UGH! Hours! …

13 March 2022; Day 4:

The nausea was getting to me today. It wasn’t so bad that I puked. Just enough to where I wasn’t wanting to eat much even with the anti-sickness meds. The pins and needles was still an issue, esp with the cold toilet seat. But I was up and about, feeling more aware of things, and the fatigue was wearing off.

14 March 2022; Day 5:

Much the same as yesterday, with a little more energy, so I thought to head into town and get a few things done. It was touch and go at times, but all went smoothly. Went to a friends house for coffee and a chat. Haven’t been over there in something like 8 years or so! Her boys are all grown up! It’s a shame how life gets in the way of meeting up with friends. She only lives down the way. It would have only been a 10min walk. … She gave me bags of jalapeño Cheetos, and other goodies.

~*~*~*~*~*~

It’s been pretty much business as usual from day 6 onward. Pins and needles, nausea, all subsiding. Felt well enough to go to the St Patrick’s Day Parade in town. I wore a mask during the parade because I was packed in a crowd on the street side. I hadn’t missed a parade since I moved here in 2008! I really didn’t want cancer to keep me from this one! I got shat on by the biggest gull ‘er ostrich! There was soooo much poo that splattered over my bran new jacket! 1st time wearing it too! … AND my hair! I went through a whole packet of tissue to get it off and there still was residue! Everyone said that it was Good Luck and I should buy a lotto tix! … The rain had impeccable timing! As soon as the parade ended it down poured! … I met up with Richard and some of his siblings and their families. We went to the Old Oak at first, but the music got so loud it hurt. We were screaming in each others ears and still couldn’t get what we were saying to each other. So we left and ended up at Toquilla Jacks where we got a table for all of us and had a great Mexican meal on St. Patrick’s Day. … Can get anymore traditional than that! … It was a Wonderful Day all in all!

So like I said, it’s business as usual forward. I have to say that I’m doing pretty good so far. I know that this was only the first dose. I have 11 more to go. But still, so far so good!

My next chemo cycle is coming up this coming Thursday. We’ll just have to see how that goes!

Coyote Dayz Before Chemo

I had planned to write a parody, and call it; “The Night Before Chemo” …

…”It was the night before chemo and all through the land, this coyote was thinking of matters at hand …”

That’s about as far as I got, before I lost the motivation. … I start chemo tomorrow (10 March 2022) morning, at 8:15am.

Again, I didn’t actively make the decision to go through with the chemo, yet here I am.

I’m not scared or concerned or worried, though I might be lying a small tiny bit. I know that the chemo will change me. It will change the way I look. It will change my outlook, the way I think, the way I feel. And I’m OK with that. There’s nothing at this point I can do about it. What I’m finding sad is that I may lose more of my memory and my ability to remember. When I was in my 20s I had a 2 & 1/2 year bout with kidney stones. All the urologist did was prescribe copious amounts of opioids for the pain while I passed them. I was doped up for 2 & 1/2 years! All said and done, there were hole in my memory and I’d be damned if I could remember your name, or movie titles, book titles, etc… Losing memories, well I just won’t know, but knowing that I’ve lost them? Knowing that I don’t remember things as well as before? … That’s disconcerting … I may very well not see the end of this year. But until then, I want to remember everything.

… After I had the port put in, I went about getting more of the paperwork done and dealing with the bureaucracy. … My medical card actually came in. It was such a relief. I called CUH right away and took care of my medical bills. I got things done. Went for my MRIs. There was no banter with MRIs. Just in, out, and feeling like all my senses were scrambled for a couple of days. Continuous loud noise can really disorient me. The MRIs were LOUD. … I went into town, bought groceries, … Went into the dentist to put 2 fillings in. Got all my chemo meds, soooo many meds … Just everyday things.

… Always, this feeling that I needed to tie up lose ends, but not knowing what those loose ends are. Even now in the 11th hour I’m scrabbling to find lose ends to tie up as if … as if it was my last chance to do so.

… These past 10 days, have been so anti-climatic … Just run of the mill stuff. … Not that I was expecting a parade or even an euphony … I’m not sure what I was expecting, just something more … A drum roll maybe? … I guess I was hoping that these days would be a little more significant or have more meaning for me in regards to the chemo. So that I would know that stumbling into this non decision to do the chemo was the right one. I’m thinking now that it wasn’t. I guess, I’ll never know. … Now that being said, there were moments of great significance and meaning, just not in regards of my cancer and chemo.

… I’m just blah … meh … eh … When I feel that it should be something else, anything else … Tomorrow I’m going in for 6 months or more of chemo. I’m going to get

No Turning Back Now, Coyote

The port is in … The chemo will start sometime next week …

Not much to say.

As I eluded to in my last post, I feel coerced into this decision. … Maybe ‘coerced’ is too strong a word?

I’m not happy with the decision. … What it came down to is the government allowances/benefits that I’ve been beating my head against the wall for 5 weeks to get. Still don’t have them yet. If I don’t do the chemo, I’m not eligible for them. So I’ll be struggling, suffering, and miserable with cancer. … Yeah … If I do the chemo, I’ll still be struggling, suffering, and miserable, with cancer, but I will at least have some financial support to buy some comfort foods to wallow in.

I didn’t actually actively make the decision. I just went along with it, thinking that something give me the courage to say no, or that something will compel me to go full steam ahead. Neither happened. I just went along with it. … And there I was, sedated, numbed, prepped and ready for them to insert the port. It was then that I conceded, sighed, and asked; “Will the superpowers kick in this afternoon? Or will I have to wait a few days? Will I get x-ray vision? Maybe mind reading? … I’ll be happy with just being able to talk with animals …”

It took them all a moment. I wonder if they thought I was serious. I mean, I was sedated. They came to after a bit and all fell in line with my sense of humour. I nearly laugh the whole time throwing out the most inane one liners, the nurses followed suit with a few of their own. What else was I going to do? No point in crying about it at this stage.

I was brought back to the recovery bay, and the nurses brought me coffee, toast and jam. I was delighted!

There’s no turning back now.

Sure, I can stop the chemo if it gets too rough. But then I’ll be sick, too weak to recover from the chemo, too weak to tolerate the cancer. … The only way out of this death swamp is to go straight through it, for better or for worse.

A Coyote Waiting For Chemo … Or Not …

Tomorrow, Monday 28 February 2022, I’m scheduled to go in and have a port put in my chest, for at least 6 months of chemo, that is suppose to start sometime after …

I haven’t decided yet if I want to go through with it. … The chemo.

Physically, I feel better than I have in such a long long time. A little out of shape. Still a little weak. My legs don’t ache. I know that’s a strange thing to say. My legs have ached for as long as I can remember. As a small kid I would wake up in the middle of the night whimpering, because my legs ached so much. It was just brushed off as “growing pains”. As an adult, … well you learn how to ignore it so you can get through the day. But it just kills at night. Since I got out of the hospital, my legs don’t ache anymore. All the symptoms that even my GP was attributing to MS are gone! Even the Raynaud’s Syndrome … All gone … Despite being riddled with cancer, I feel healthier than I have in a long long time.

… I’m sounding like a broken record. …

… Now I’m suppose to go and voluntarily make myself sicker and sicker for a chance of the dubious promise of feeling better for a short time after?

I feel that many people aren’t listening to me when I say that I’ve made peace with my illness and dying. They don’t believe me, or maybe they don’t know how to deal with someone who has. I keep getting a bunch of fake and hollow sunshine spouted back to me about how I need talk about my cancer, to process what is happening to me. I don’t know how to say it in any easier way than; I have made peace with it all. I don’t want to talk about it! What is there to talk about!? I’ve processed!

I am getting frustrated with people, who won’t let this go, trying to turn me into a victim so that they can save me. …

I’m bitter. Not about my illness. My cancer just is. Being bitter about my cancer isn’t going to change anything. I am bitter, because when I was released from the hospital, the doctors and nurses all said to relax and enjoy my recovery. Not to make any life decisions. Don’t worry about work or your medical card, illness/disability benefits, etc… Just get some much needed rest. … Bullshit … The very moment I walk out of the hospital I’ve been drowning in the bureaucracy of 5 different government agencies that all want the same information, won’t talk to each other, losing the information that I give them, and are all just kicking the can down the street! What more needs to happen to me for ‘them’ to realize that I need medical and financial support? …

So no … I didn’t get to relax and enjoy my recovery, not to making any life decisions. Or not worry about work or my medical card, illness/disability benefits, etc… Or get some much needed rest. So NO I didn’t get to enjoy feeling better than I have in forever! … It’s just been a month of anger, frustration and stagnation.

So, … I will ask again, … Now I’m suppose to go and voluntarily make myself sicker and sicker for a chance of the dubious promise of feeling better for a short time after? … I’d rather take my chances with the cancer. … I’ll at least feel great until the day I don’t. That day might be a few months, or a few years, or maybe even a few decades. …

The very unfortunate thing, is that if I don’t do the chemo and take my chances with the cancer, then I can’t get any of the benefits & allowances that I would/should get by taking the chemo. Meaning that I will be struggling, fighting, scrapping, scrimping and chasing down a paycheck just as I always have. Feeling depressed & anxious, stressed all the time. Angry & frustrated too. … What kind of life would that be for whatever time that I have?

… I feel like I’m being coerced into one decision over the other …

The cab is booked at 7:15 am. The port installation is scheduled at 8:15am …

A Tertiary Coyote’s 2022 Thus Far (13 Feb 22)

Let’s make a list shall we?

  • I go to A&E at CUH on Sat 22 Jan 2022 because of severe abdominal pain. Honestly believing that it was nothing more than a really painful period. Yep, “women’s problems”.
  • Get x-rayed, and the surgeons on duty think that it’s appendicitis or some sort of perforation of the colon … There’s a fancier name for it, I just don’t remember … I don’t think I would be able to pronounce it and/or spell it if I did … Diverticulitis? … Need a CT scan to be sure.
  • I’m admitted to CUH, stay the night and have the CT scan on Sunday late morning. That afternoon, another surgeon comes and tells me that there is a perforated tumor blocking my appendix that is also perforated and leaking. They need to do a colectomy, taking out part of my large and small colon along with my appendix and reconnect the bits that are left. And that they will have to do it that night.
  • Other emergencies that are more life threatening than my situation came up that night so my surgery is pushed to 1st thing Monday morning. After my surgery, I’m told that they believe they got all the tumors out in my colon, but there were lesions on my liver.
  • Friday 28 January 2022, the biopsy/test results came in and the tumors that were on my colon and the lesions on my liver are/were indeed cancerous. I have stage 4 cancer. They think it’s treatable with 3 months of chemo.
  • Monday 7 February 2022, I meet with my oncologist, and see the CT scan. Found out that they also removed 17 suspicious lymph nodes, one of which was cancerous. The cancerous lesion on my liver is 4 cm in diameter surrounding my hepatic artery and portal vein. … They also found a 6mm lesion on my lung. … No, no, it’s not 3 months of chemo anymore, it’s 6 months of chemo. Then they will see IF they can do surgery at the end. If not then it’s just a matter of making me comfortable for the remainder of my life.
  • Thursday 10 February 2022, 2:30pm I get hit by a car crossing the street. Though the paramedics checked me from head to toe and felt that I was fine, because of my recent surgery, they wanted to take me to CUH to get checked out to make sure that nothing fell apart in the accident. Waited in the same chair and pod I did on the 22 Jan 22 … More x-rays, more scans … Had a mild concussion, strained wrist and elbow.
  • Friday 11 February 2022 … The CT scan of my head that they did the night before because I had a mild concussion showed that I have a calcified lesion on the back of my brain …

Really now? … I’m running out of organs!

… I’m wondering what more is going to happen …

I’m not angry. I’m not sad. I’m not worried. … No amount of that is going to change things … I take small comfort knowing that this cancer has been with me for a very long time. Maybe since I was a child. I can pin down a few rather traumatic events in my early childhood that could very well have caused the onset of this cancer. But none of us will ever know for certain. Which means that there was absolutely nothing that I could have done differently to prevent this. There’s absolutely nothing that any of you who might be reading this, or who might know me could have done differently to prevent this. I’ve always had a very active lifestyle that weighted on the healthier side of things … So this was inevitable, regardless …

… It’s not as though I’m feeling nothing, or am numb. I’m feeling impatient and frustrated that “things” aren’t moving fast enough. Paperwork, computer work, forms, copies, certifications, statements, phone calls, bank accounts … Even, medical appointments and such … What more needs to happen to me for them to realize that I will need support medically and financially? This all needs to be settled before I start chemo, because if I do go through with the chemo, I won’t have the energy and wear with all to be dealing with it, which will make an even bigger mess if I come out the other end. … It is what it is, so let just get on with it!

Yes … IF

I’ve made my peace a long time ago about dying. Long before my cancer diagnosis. I’m not afraid. So yeah, I’m entertaining the idea of just taking my chances with the cancer and not going through with the chemo. I see it as 6 months of getting sicker and sicker with a very uncertain outcome verses 6 months of being aware & living my best life …

And please … Please don’t be blowing a bunch of sunshine up my ass about; “OH! But you have so much to live for, to fight for!” bullshit. Nobody knows what I have to live or fight for. Nobody. Please do not put me on trial to testify of why. … Please don’t lecture me either, … about how I should think or feel about my situation. Not even my doctors and nurses have the right to do that.

Most of all please trust that I do cherish all of you! That I do so very much appreciate all your help and support! Whether it is just in passing, or a WordPress Reader, or close and intimate, I can’t even describe how deeply honored I am to know such REMARKABLE people as yourselves!

Well, I need to finish this up. I have a lot of work to do. A lot to prepare. A lot to think about. …

Fitness Fight At 50+ 013122

If you want to follow this train wreck from the start, just click SCREAMING

If you want to jump into this hand basket from the start of my hospitalization, just click, New Ring Of Hell

28 – 31 January 2022

I’m on the home stretch now. All the tubes, catheters wires are all out. I’m mobile, though slow … very slow, and the pain is being managed. So, now it’s just waiting to fart and poop!

It’s Amazing to me. All my perceptions of hospital stays after surgery comes from the US. Horror stories of people getting sliced, diced, stitched and send home in the same day. Then they get a doctor’s call the next day. People being shuffled through as fast as possible with nothing more than “You’re fine. Here’s your bill. Go home!” After my surgery, my doctor came and visited me every morning and most evenings as well. With the exception of one night, I had nurses attending to me every couple of hours, checking this and that, making sure I was comfortable. I was pampered!

On the Friday I had Nurse Anne come to me. She’s a nurse practitioner specializing in gastroenterology, that is kind of a liaison/counselor. The go to person after I check out of the hospital to call if I had any questions and/or concerns. We had a great conversation. Obviously I’m wanting to know what may have caused this. There’s no family history of cancer. At least not on my Father’s side. At this point I don’t know that it’s cancer or not. The biopsy hadn’t come in yet. Of course I started looking things up. Particularly the correlation between stress and cancer. Surprisingly, contrary to popular belief, stress does not cause cancer! I’ll say that again in a different way. There is virtually NO correlation of stress causing cancer. It does however, have a significant correlation to the development thereof. I got this information from abstracts written from cancer research institutions around the world. Still, I wanted some verification. So Nurse Anne and I talked about it in great detail. I was so happy that she didn’t talk down to me and talked to me with all the medical jargon. Or at least I think she did.

I also gave both Nurse Anne and Dr Waters another possibility to look into. Whether they will or not I doubt I will ever know. When I was in my late 20’s early 30’s I worked in a verity of different environmental testing laboratories. We used A LOT of DMC Dimethyl Chloride or Dichloromethane. It’s a solvent that we used for … goodness, everything! Titrations, separations, … everything … You’re suppose to wear all the protective gear and work in a fume hood, but we’re never so careful. We were happy that the fume hood would work at all sometimes. The thing is, it’s absorbed into your body and can attack the liver. … So my head is spinning, could that have been the start of all this? Anyway, Nurse Anne was lovely and I so appreciate her talking with me!

After Nurse Anne came and talked with me, a social worker was assigned to me! His name is Livingston, from Uganda. He had a spectacular demeanor! You couldn’t feel anything but peace and calm when he is around. I was so surprised! They actually assigned someone to me to help me figure out how to get a medical card so that I can pay for all my medical bills, rent allowance so that I can have a place to live, and illness benefits so that I have money to pay my bills and buy groceries!? When did I become so special!?!?

… Amazing!… Simply Amazing! …

CUH is a teaching hospital. A lot like the TV show “Scrubs” I suppose. I had 3 students come and visit me all asking the same questions, but in different ways and to have a look at my tummy. One poor soul had the lecturer pop in and ask him to give an impromptu analysis of his notes with me as his visual aide! I think he did well. The lecturer seemed impressed …

Friday was the 1st day that I was on solid food. A light diet they called it. Breakfast was fine. Gluten free toast, tea with oatmilk. That went down well enough. Lunch was cod, mashed potato, and consommé. Let me list that in more realistic terms: textured protein, starch, salt … I couldn’t barely get it down. Dinner was consommé, and scrabbled eggs. … I couldn’t finish it. It stuck in my throat. I nearly gagged. I think the only reason why I didn’t gag or barf was because I knew the pain that would ripple up from my staples would kill me. It was hard enough to even yawn, let alone gag. All night the nurses were asking if I had passed wind or if my bowels opened up. I had to laugh every time they asked. It was as if I was the gate keeper to the gates of hell and they were wondering when I was going to fling the gates open! I hadn’t eaten any solid food in a week. Really? Will some toast, a bit of cod and a small scoop of potato enough food to make a poop?

Saturday, morning again breakfast was fine. Toast and tea. Again the nurses were asking if my bowels have opened up. I was getting desperate. The only thing keeping me in the hospital right then was that I hadn’t pooped. The Lunar New Year, Tét, was on Tuesday 1 Feb. I wanted to get home so that I can do a few more things before then. Like cut my hair, alter some clothes, clean up the house, etc… At this rate I’m going to be spending New Year’s in the hospital wondering if I’ll ever poop again! … Well, I needed to force the issue. I talked to the nurses to see if it was OK if I got Richard to make me a dinner and drop it by. They were fine with it! So I sent Richard a recipe of a simple dish that a friend use to make for another friend that was recovering from cancer. We called it “ground mash” but I changed it for Ireland speak and called it “mince mash”. Basically it’s sautéed beef mince, mixed in with mashed sweet potato, cauliflower, carrots, spring onion and regular potato. Yeah a little bit of fiber and bulk to get the bowels moving… Oh! and some goats yoghurt. I can’t have the cow yoghurt they have here. I’ve been drowning in antibiotics since the surgery, I needed something to re-bacterialize my gut. … It was all set up, made up and delivered. There was enough for 3 meals! I ate about 1/3. It wasn’t half bad. I waited. … Nothing on Saturday afternoon or night. But I was passing wind, so I know that it was coming. Sunday morning, still nothing. Had the breakfast of toast and tea. Spent the day walking around and messing on social media. Lunch comes around. Dry chicken with a dribble of brown stuff and consommé. Ugh … I actually cut up the chicken and a put it in the consommé along with the mince mash and made a kind of soupy thing. It was alright. Still nothing. Still walking around trying to get things moving. Seriously! I really don’t remember anything else I did on Saturday and Sunday other than trying to make enough poop to actually poop so that the nurses and the doctors know that everything is working properly so that they can send me home before New Years …

Finally … FINALLY! … At around 6:30pm I farted. I went to the toilet and EUREKA!!! I POOPED! I was so happy that after I cleaned myself up and flushed, I ran out to the nurses office with my fists high up in the airs shouting “I POOPED!” They all laughed! They said that they called Dr Waters right away! It was such a relief. Because as much as I wanted to get home before New Years. I didn’t want to go home, and then find out that things arn’t working and then end up back in the hospital. I felt comfortable enough to go home knowing that everything was working.

Monday morning. I’m up early enough. I start packing up my stuff knowing that I’ll be discharged later. Dr. Waters comes by with his entourage. He’s looking rather grave. He tells me that my biopsy results are back. He tells me straight that it was cancer. He said that they feel they have cut out all of it. That I will need at least 3 months of chemo to burn out the residue and then another surgery if the chemo didn’t get it all. And that’s that. I have cancer.

Everyone I’m telling are a bit baffled about how well I’m taking it. You see, I do believe that there isn’t a situation no matter how dower it may be that doesn’t warrant a bit of levity. It is what it is. A phrase that a friend told me about a whole other situation, but can be so aptly applied in this one. It is what it is. No amount of worry, or crying, or anger is going to change it. So rev up the engines and just get on with it! … Make a bit of fun of it on the way. Why the hell not!?

Well, I got dressed, finished packing. I got all my letters and documents. Rang up Richard who had a lift arranged for me. Met him and his friend that was driving down in reception and went home with a quick stop at the pharmacy/chemist to pick up my prescription. Got home, and was happy that Sprite remembered me. I cut about 3 inches off the length of my hair. I jumped into the shower and it was pure bliss! I stayed in there for nearly and hour. I made “mince mash” again for dinner. I was exhausted at this point and just laid down in bed without eating. I might have dosed off for awhile. I did eat a little. Watched Ocean’s 12 with Richard and then fell asleep.

« Older entries