Mostly Just Chugging Along

Hard to believe I am already two-thirds of the way through my three-week regimen of full-time chemo. Today was day fifteen; six days left. They drew the blood this morning which will tell whether the cancer is in full remission. Follow-up appointment with the doctor is in one week (April 10). Fingers crossed.

This time around I have not been quite the star treatment recipient that I was before. All the same side effects are back, and a few new ones have joined the party. I had nausea one day, which I beat back with an “as-needed” dose of Zofran. But then I also got a persistent headache which lasted a few days; so we switched out the Zofran for Compazine. Compazine, as it turns out, includes blurred vision as one of its common side effects. And so does one of my other medications (I think it was the ATRA). At this point I am pretty sure I would fail the vision test if I had to renew my driver’s license. At the same time, I don’t want to get new glasses because I hope and expect that it will improve somewhat after the treatment ends. What to do?

Also, I have been feeling the cold all over and numbness in my feet and hands which are fairly common for chemotherapy patients. It isn’t too bad yet, but it does increase just a little each day. The literature says that this may fade away after treatment, or it may remain permanently. I am crossing some more fingers that mine is temporary.

Unrelated (I think) to the medications, but quite obnoxious in the last week or so: I seem to have developed a reaction to the standard adhesives used in medical tape and in the dressing that goes over my central IV port. After wearing it constantly for a couple months, suddenly last week I would get severe itching and a red rash within about ten minutes of when the dressing was applied. If we leave it on overnight then I wind up with a couple little open sores in among the rash. Nobody wants that. So the nurses (who remain AWESOME and wonderful) have been taking off my dressing nearly every day to give my skin a rest, and have spent a bunch of time tracking down different types of dressing, with different types of adhesives. We think we’ve finally found one that works. Even more fingers crossed that it continues to work.

Thankfully, I can still use standard retail bandages (e.g. Band Aids) without trouble. That would have been quite a hindrance if those also caused a rash. Whew!

My old friend (frenemy?) Fatigue has been back in force, and with the sort of inconsistency that I have grown to expect. Some days I have enough energy to take long walks or to tackle a long-overdue project around the house. Other days I get home from my infusion and quite literally sleep for the entire remainder of the day. Accordingly, I have now pushed back my tentative return-to-work date by a few weeks, to April 24th. That’s three weeks from today. I really, really hope I can at least get started by then if not even a week or so earlier. But I am also sticking to my discipline of prioritizing my own healing first; so we’ll just have to wait and see.

Other bummer news: my conference submissions to both AgileIndy and Agile2017 were declined. There are still some other ways to get into the Agile2017 program, and I intend to pursue those. I had really high hopes for that talk, so this is quite a bummer to me. But that’s life. It may also be the universe telling me that I don’t need the stress of putting together, rehearsing, and refining a brand-new workshop.

My last bit of bummer news: the plan year for our health insurance ended with March. As of Saturday my deductible and out-of-pocket max numbers reset to zero, so we’ll be paying out of pocket again for a while. Hmph. Still, I’ll classify that as a very special case of a First World Problem, because we are fortunate enough to have income and savings to dip into in order to cover it. Unlike so many other Americans we don’t have to fear losing our retirements savings or our house because of this illness. Why don’t I just call it a First World Problem? Why, because other than the USA the entire First World provides health care to all citizens without risk of financial ruin. This is really only an American problem.

Ooo, look: I got a tiny bit political there. That was fun.

Keeping some more positivity here, I will share one of the things that we finally got to after months of delay: getting our little “home theater” set up more properly. Tricia painted the projection wall white; I found us a good deal on a great A/V receiver (Onkyo TX-NR626), extended the wires from the four ceiling-mounted speaker which came with our new house, and hooked it all up. The end result is pretty sweet, both for watching video and for just listening. The receiver can play audio from any device vie Bluetooth, (Apple) AirPlay, or Google Cast, and it sounds great. The TV wall now shows all its 1080p scenes with sharpness and radiance, and the whole system is now ready for the 4K future, whenever that comes to our abode. We can’t wait to start having movie nights again.

One thing I have learned in the last thirteen days is that it gets much lonelier when I don’t post regular updates to Facebook, Twitter, and my blog. The periodic burst of comments, replies, chats, and other types of banter which follow each post really do provide a significant social uplift for me. So thank you all (again!) for helping to keep my spirits up. Thank you in particular to those who reached out proactively to check on me after not seeing any posts in a while. That’s very sweet of you all. 🙂

In order to avoid long pauses in the fun and socializing, I will now work on writing shorter and more-frequent updates. Those who know me and my writing style probably know that this is not an easy goal for me. Usually it takes me far longer to write something concise than to write something lengthy.

To that end, I will now post this entry without giving it my usual editorial pass. Don’t be surprised if I come back in tomorrow and fix a bunch of grammar, spelling, and style issues. If you see any errors that I haven’t fixed (today, tomorrow, or any day) please let me know with a comment or a message of some sort.

Finally, I wish a good night, good sleep, and good health to all. Cheers, friends!

-Markus

Cross-posted to Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/markus.silpala/posts/10212683686393781

One thought on “Mostly Just Chugging Along

  1. Wayne Johnson says:

    Hi my brother,

    Great to see you are in such positive spirits.
    Your updates, outlook and positivity are inspirational and contagious. I ask all that know you, to feel and share the love…think and send positive thoughts and wishes.
    I have heard and truly believe the saying: Things always happen for a good reason, we just don’t see the good reason as we experience the negative impact of the event. I know that there are positives related to this setback, some of which I see and feel.
    Keep on fighting, resting, and being positive…soon you will be stronger and better than ever.
    Stay strong!
    Love you,
    Wayne

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