Mid-winter blues

It’s very cold, though clear.  Another nutty week come and gone.  I’m now on Cycle 13 of afatinib-cetuximab.  The past month has been the rashiest for my poor face.  I wonder if my skin will ever recover.  I’m itchy, have no eyebrows left, and am taking Vicodin almost every day.  I’ve now been given a prescription for oxycodone, because it appears I’ve not been managing my pain very well.  I don’t fear addiction, but I’ve tried to ingest as few medications as possible in an attempt to spare my liver, kidneys, whatever’s left that still functions.  Unfortunately, being unproductive is a drag, and pain makes pretty short work of the best laid plans.  So we’ll see.

One of my uncles died of colon cancer over the weekend.  He was only 70, I think.  He was diagnosed in 2010.  During surgery, it was found to be more extensive than originally thought, but still treatable (stage 3).  He had one or two rounds of chemo and decided it was intolerable.  Apparently he had been on alternative therapy since.  A month ago he went to Chicago and upon his return decided he couldn’t withstand more travel.  Then he died.  This is the spotty sequence of events relayed to me through the inevitable family chain (lots of distortion).  He was a nice guy, generous, easy-going, with a great appetite for food, travel, life.  I’m sad he’s gone, but am relieved he no longer suffers.

Over the past week I’ve been trying to work on getting my “affairs in order”.  The Sunday before last was spent in the ER with my father, who had sudden acute chest pains at 7pm.  We were there until 4am Monday morning, when he was released against the doctors’ advice.  He saw his oncologist 5 hours later and began second-line chemo on Wednesday (Gemzar).  Yesterday he said he felt weak and tired, but he ate like a champ at the seafood buffet.  His book is finally being printed, so I hope he’s able to pass them out before he perishes.  I hope chemo allows him more time without too much impact on his quality of life.

I’m also trying to deal with a menacing bump on my left arm, which threatens to be a new malignancy that would disqualify me from the clinical trials I need to survive.  On the other hand, it could be a rare metastatic spread of lung cancer, which therefore needs to be dealt with immediately.  I don’t know how to deal with it.  I’m stuck between “don’t ask, don’t tell” and “get it checked out before your arm needs amputation”.  This is compounded with the threat of a blood clot… woke up with pain behind my right leg, which is where a DVT (deep vein thrombosis) would develop.  Later I had chest pain, then a headache, and at all times my breathing’s not great anyway, so shortness of breath isn’t a surefire symptom.  So a bit on edge here.  And now I find out my Mom’s been at urgent care with my brother for 5 hours.  Poor thing, she must be exhausted.  Where does it end?

What else.  Our next door neighbor appears to be moving.  She lives alone, her only relative being a brother in Texas.  First came the carpet cleaners, then the Serv-Pro folks. Now the giant U-Haul and movers.  I hope she’ll be taken cared of, wherever she goes.  When her back yard flooded, we pounded on her door for days before she answered it.

Today was my friend Tara’s birthday.  A bright spot in the fog.  She left a box of macarons at my door last week, and brought over bean soup the day after Denver (when I’m always too tired to cook).  She’s been through a lot.  I’d like to live a bit longer so I can be as good a friend to her as she is to me.

Anyway, enough for one post.  I’ll talk about something else another time, like movies or the  gophers that ate my fig tree over Christmas…


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