Friday, September 29, 2006

Turned Himself In...

The guy turned himself in after seeing a newspaper report that basically left nothing to the imagination with regard to what the police were looking for. The truck was exactly as I described it, and he drives that route to work every day. He said he was turning himself in because he "didn't know he hit a person" (Note: that screaming you hear might be an indication, Tom Druce. You might also notice the cars stopping behind you, people getting out of those cars, the bloody guy on the lawn...or, you could just gun your engine and take off, because it was a "sign") and saw the report, figuring "it was just a matter of time before they caught him."

It's been hard to shut it off.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Mondays Totals, and an Update...

Mondays Totals
Doctors seen: 2
Nurses/EMTs seen: 8
X-ray techs seen: 2
X-rays/scans: 12+
Needles taken: 4
Hospital facilities visited: 3

I am feeling a little better today. I am stiff as a board, and my left leg hurts when I walk, but I CAN walk. Nothing broken, nothing strained, nothing sprained. I was concerned about my knee initially, just because I have had surgery on it twice. It is actually the sturdiest part of my leg.

My shoulder looks like it was sandblasted, and my forearm looks like a raw hamburger. My left thigh has a huge road raspberry on it as well, and my thihg is hurting, presumably from where the bumper hit me. My back also has some scratches and bruises on it. Showering was a bear this morning--water and road rash are a terrible combination...

No report on the driver, yet. The police staked out the accident site yesterday to see if he came back. It may have been a 91-92 Chevy S-10, because he lost a hubcap at the site, which the police were able to I.D. Time will tell.

I'm not even angry the guy hit me. Accidents happen all the time, and I'm fairly convinced that's what this was. At 6.30, the sun was fairly low and could have created significant glare at the scene. What galls me to no end is that he left me there.

I am getting around okay now, if a little stiffly. I'm going to try to pick up my bike this afternoon. I'm pretty convinced it's going to be totalled, but again, we'll see.

Tell Me Why, I Don't Like Mondays...Part 4

I went to Holy Spirit Hospital and they took me in on the gurney. It was just like those medical shows where you're looking up at the bright lights, but the bustle of doctors and nurses is way overdramatized. Matt and Joe, the EMTs, pushed me into one of the Emergency Room triage areas (For those that don't know, when a hospital is busy, they divide people up into three categories: Those that will make it, but only with immediate care; those that will make it, but they can wait; those that won't make it, no matter what they do. I was in category two).

Will, my nurse, came in and gave me the once over. We talked about the date, my name, my date of birth, losing consciousness...the kind of light banter that makes a nurse's night, I'm sure. He ascertained I was pretty much okay, except for the bleeding. I lay on the backboard, feeling different parts of my body seizing up. First my thigh, then my calf, then the base of my buttocks which sent shooting pain all the way down my left leg. At one point, I remember praying and asking God to take the pain away, if only for a little while. Miraculously, I felt it move away, like a tide. I thanked Him, and lay still, praying.

He hooked up my IV and started the drip. Another needle, this one in the right hand.

I asked Will if I could call my wife. He dialed the number, gave me the answer. I left a message. Then I asked if I could call my neighbor, which I did. As I explained in my earlier cancer posts, I live in the kind of neighborhood where everyone looks out for each other, takes care of each other. I explained what was going on, and asked her to try to call my wife until she reached her. My neighbor looked out her front door and saw my wife walking our dog.

For us, these conversations always go something like this: "Hi Honey. First, I'm okay...but I got hit by a pickup truck." I figure if my voice is the first one she hears, she'll know it's not too bad. She got to the hospital about fifteen minutes later.

She said my daughter crumpled into a sobbing mess when she told her I had been in an accident. I called my daughter immediately, and spoke to her, letting her know I was fine, was going to be alright, and had no major injuries. It's amazing the stores of strength God makes available to us in moments like this. I felt no pain, no fear, no anxiety--I just knew I had to make my daughter sure Iw as okay...and I did. One of the things my wife did was to ask my daughter to help pick out clothes she could bring to me at the hospital. My daughter picked the t-shirt I earned from my first triathlon--I love that kid! She also packed THE LION, because "it helps you be brave when you need to be brave." For those that don't know, my daughter, who is eight, has packed the lion in my stuff everytime I have had to take a trip. He has been to Tennessee, Belarus, New Orleans, the Appalchian Trail and more than a couple hospitals. He makes me brave because he reminds me of the strength of my family...

After about an hour (I think. Time is kind of fuzzy in situations like this), the doctor came in to see me. Note: If you get hurt on a Monday night, you KNOW you're not getting the Doctor from Johns Hopkins...or even the cream of the crop from your local medical college. The doctor walks in, looks at the television with a look of contempt, turns it off and starts asking me questions. Then he decides he wants me off the backboard, so he GRABS MY THIGH AND TRIES TO MOVE ME!

"Oh does that hurt?"
Joan said later she saw him start to reach for my thigh, but couldn't get the words out fast enough. She wanted to punch him when he did it. I think he made himself a mental note: ascertain full extent of injuries before trying to move patients. His bedside manner never did improve.

Then they gave me some morphine, which made me horribly nauseous. I ended up not throwing up, but it was touch and go for about 20 minutes. They gave me another drug that counteracted the nausea and I felt better. Eventually, I was wheeled to the Radiation Center for x-rays. Will came down to make sure I was feeling better. I thought it was a class move, very thoughtful. The head x-ray technician was actually really funny and engaging. He made me laugh for the first time since getting to the hospital, and his staff was equally enjoyable. They took shots of my arm, chest, thigh, calf, full leg, and ankle...probably eight or nine shots in all. At this point what's one or two more, right?

I got wheeled back to my ER holding cell and continued to wait. That's the other thing they don't show on medical shows. The interminable waiting. My wife was awesome, going up at various points and asking "What's next?" "What are we waiting for?" She kept the ball moving forward. I'd probably still be there if she hadn't done this.

They took some blood to run tests and make sure nothing was abnormal, and they also took a urine test. Another needle. Ummmm....right arm. Will looked at my arm and asked, "Did you have a shot already today?"
I replied that I had.
"Do you want to try the other arm?"
"No," I said. "I got a shot in that arm, today, too."
"Are you serious?"
Right arm it is...

After more waiting, it was time to get my wounds cleaned out. They were going to do stitches, but decided against it. The way they clean road rash is to pour a liquid painkiller onto it (which is in itself a misnomer, because the "painkiller" stings like hornet going on) and then get a scrub brush with the yellow disinfectant (betadine?). Will scrubbed the wound vigorously, apologizing. I just gritted my teeth and told him, "Do what you have to do." That included him digging in at various spots with a toothpick-like instrument to pull out blades of grass and gravel that were imbedded in my skin. Grit teeth. "Do what you have to do." Grit teeth. "Do what you have to do." Done. Mercifully. Done.

Then I had to wait for the doctor to come in and close things out. He came in again, looked at the television with the same air of contempt and shut it off. I think he was wondering who kept turning it on. After almost 5 hours of this ordeal, I really didn't care what he thought. On a funny note, I couldn't look at my wife because I knew I would start laughing at the doctor.
"How are you doing?" he asked.
"I'm ready to go home."
He asked, "Do you want me to wrap things up and go over them with you before we do that?"
I almost said, "Not really" but thought better of it.

He went over the procedures, asked Will to get some things, then almost dressed him down when he started to go get it before the doctor had finished his proclamation. After Will left, I told the doctor about the great care he had provided, the attention he had shown me. I'm not sure he heard it, but he needed to.

I stood up, and walked (hobbled) out of the Emergency Room, continuing my 39 year streak of never having to be wheeled out. My wife drove me home at 1.30 in the morning. It's been a long time since my bed felt so good.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Tell Me Why, I Don’t like Mondays…Part 3

One of the things I have missed the most since being diagnosed with cancer is riding my bicycle. I am used to putting in 100+ miles per week, pretty much year round, and this time of year is my favorite. The cooler weather makes it ideal, and I thought today would be a beautiful day to get out and ride. My wife wanted me to go to the mall with her and my daughter, and ride the trainer tonight, but I said no. I wanted to get out and feel the fresh air on my face. And besides, this was my first ride in more than a month, since the orchiectomy, the cancer diagnosis, the recovery, and everything that went with it. I finally felt comfortable enough to ride.

I took off, feeling pretty good. Hills were tougher, and I could feel where my fitness had waned, but all-in-all, I felt really strong, if for no other reason than I was out on my bike. I decided to take a local loop I do, which is a little less than twenty miles and not very hilly, feeling it would be a easy one to complete. Just enough to get out and stretch the legs, really (non-bikers are always amazed at statements like these, but 20 miles really is a “warmup-and-get-your-legs-under-you” type of ride for many riders, especially those that average 40+ miles per ride).

I was riding and starting to feel my rhythm when I felt this surge from behind me, lifting me up and off the bike…there was an intense cracking sound, metal on metal, metal on plastic…I felt a huge pain in my left calf…I was flying through the air…I yelled really loud…then I hit the pavement on my left side…had a split second of clarity and sprung to the grass on my right side…and came to a stop.

I had been hit by a pickup truck. The driver came to a semi-stop, ostensibly realized what he had done, then took off. I lay on the side of the road, afraid to writhe, in considerable pain.

The driver behind the truck stopped and called 9-1-1, and the driver two cars back was an EMT named Mike. He jumped up to me and started asking me questions which allowed him to ascertain my condition and made me think about the questions instead of the situation, both of which were good things. I get the sense he knew what he was doing on both counts.

The ambulance arrived (note: not the Wahmbulance—if you get hit by a car and you’re on a bike, it’s not whining), and Joe and Matt hopped out. They asked me the same questions Mike asked, and presumably compared notes to make sure my knowledge of arcane subjects like my name, date of birth, age and the month of the year all matched up. They put me in one of those neck collars, as a precaution, and put me on a backboard.

They loaded me into the ambulance and asked me what hospital I preferred. I was unsure of the extent of my injuries. I was fairly certain nothing was broken, in spite of considerable pain, but didn’t know about internally. Nothing felt wrong, even when they pressed on my spine, belly and skull. Still, in a moment of clarity, I picked the one closer to home, in case I had to stay overnight and my wife need to make hospital runs.

They got me there quickly enough, but I felt every bump in the highway…and there were a lot. At this point I began doing my own assessment of just how bad it was. I felt a really deep bruise into my left calf, I was sure I had road rash underneath my shorts on my left side. I felt wet on my arm, so I was pretty certain the road rash there was pretty significant, and bleeding. And then I was off to the hospital…

The Funny
So I’m laying by the side of the road, just been run over by a truck, presumably covered in more than a little blood and one of the EMTs asked me if I had any other present medical conditions.
“Yeah, I have cancer.”
“Are you kidding me?” he asked.

Tell Me Why, I Don’t like Mondays…Part 2

So far I have been to see a urologist (Dr. Wenger) and a radiation oncologist (Dr. Kottapolly). Today I went to see Dr. Conroy, oncologist. He came very highly recommended, is Board Certified and a Fellow (which means he REALLY knows his stuff, and is affiliated with Johns Hopkins (ditto). We went through my records, my tests, scans, bloodwork, results, surgical history…just about everything, really, since Day 1 of diagnosis. He was very thorough.

Two important things happened in this appointment. First, he confirmed for me the recommended treatment for the radiation. Stage I (no evidence of spreading anywhere) Seminomas, being highly sensitive to radiation, are treated with short blasts of the stuff for 13-14 days. They used to do the abdomen and the area from just below the belly button down along the pelvis to about where the leg connects to the pelvis for 4-6 weeks. They call it the “hockey stick” because it looks like a goalie’s stick. Dr. Kottapolly wanted to leave out the pelvic area because of the increased morbidity (still relatively low) of radiating that area, which led to cancer in the bowels. Dr. Conroy concurred, saying Stage II (evidence of some spreading, usually to the lymph nodes and/or lungs) were treated with the “hockey stick” but that Stage I’s could just as effectively be treated without it, aiming at the abdomen only, for a shorter period of time.

Second, he agreed to be my quarterback. One of the most exhausting things about the whole cancer experience is coordinating the care. It’s even more so when you are handling it yourself, which is what I have been doing. Dr. Conroy is going to take over scheduling CT Scans, lung x-rays, follow up care, appointments with other specialists as needed and all of the necessary secondary questions that need to be handled. It’s a huge relief. It’s not that I am going to be relaxed or uninvolved in the care anymore (surely you know me better than that!), but it’s nice to know someone else will be helping with all of that, and that I’ll be able to breathe a little.

At the conclusion, he ordered a Complete Blood Culture (CBC), and asked me to come back in a month. Blood work…let’s go with the Right Arm this time…

Tell Me Why, I Don't Like Mondays...Part One

This was my day yesterday.

Bone Scan
Oncology Appointment
Hit-and-Run While Riding my Bike

That's an exciting year for most people, but in typical Rob-fashion, I had to squeeze it ALL into one day.

The Bone Scan
I had an early morning 7 a.m. meeting for part one of my bone scan. As mentioned previously, Dr. Kottapolly found an unusual growth on my left hip bone. He said it was, in all probability, a sports-related injury, but with my history, it was better to be sure.

So I got to the appointment and met Kimberly, an older woman with a no-nonsense approach; very efficient, very focused, knew exactly what was going on and how long it would take. I liked her right off the bat.

She asked me to roll up my sleeve (let's go Left this time) and she gave me an injection of a radioactive isotope. This particular injection/isotope is attracted to the chemicals in calcium, so it circulates throughout the body, being drwawn to the calcium in the skeletal system. In a little more than 3 hours, the circulation should be complete.

I got the injection, went back to work, then came back to the outpatient center at 10.30. I laid down on the machine and went through a series of tests. The machine looks like this, which makes me realize just how prescient Gene Roddenberry was:

So I lay down and the machine feeds me into the imaging area, where the camera takes picture of the radioactive isotope in my body, now clinging to the bones. It's not a bad test, all-in-all, except the machine is REALLY close AND they strap you to the bed so you can't all. Note for the Claustrophobic: This is not the test for you! To wit:

I have had claustrophia in the past, but sometimes you just have to suck it up and go with it. This was one of those times. That being said, a fan on one of these machines blowing cool air on the patient would work wonders.

When all was said and done, I got a series of pictures that look like this:

I'll be taking those images to my oncology appointment with Dr. Conroy at 2.15 today and my next appointment with Dr. Kottapolly, time and date TBD.

The Funny
I'm laying in the machine, strapped in to the slab, getting ready for the test. Kimberly steps out momentarily to get something, and the phone rings. I'm laying there, listening to the phone ring, then stop.

Kimberly returns, sits down at her station, then asks, "Was the phone ringing?"
"Yes," I reply.
"Why didn't you answer it?"
"HEY! I just got my radioactive powers. I don't know how to use them yet!"

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Radiation Appointment

I went in to see Dr. Sri Kottapolly, MD, Radiation Oncologist (known affectionately as a Rad. Onc., which is just fun to say...try it) for my radiation appointment last Friday. I walked in and he asked if I had my records, which of course I did because I now carry EVERYTHING in the Planner I got from the Lance Armstrong Foundation (They're free. If you or someone you know is going through this, get a planner to help organize your thoughts and records). I was glad I did because Dr. Kottapolly did not have online access to the database that contained my CT Scan and records.

We went back and reviewed the CT scan in his office. What the CT Scan does is takes pictures of you like a slice. If I were laying on a table and a ninja sliced me like a loaf of bread, the scan shows what each slice of Rob would look like, belly to back. We went through each of the slices, toe to head, until we reached the pelvis, at which point he stopped.

"Ummmm." As a cancer patient, the "stop" and the "ummmm" combine to release an experience that I am certain is not dissimilar to what happens to a Thompson's gazelle in those first moments when the cheetahs arrive, still out of sight. Something isn't quite right, the heart starts to race, and all you can think is, "Get ready. Here it comes."

"You have something on the left pelvis, right here," he said. "We call it a boney island. I know you are athletic, so I am guessing you probably banged it when you were doing something, causing an injury. The body healed up around it with bone. But, I would like you to get a bone scan, because with your condition, you want to be sure. I am almost 100% sure it is nothing, an injury like I described, but let's be sure." And, he was very reassuring.

He showed me on the CT Scan report, where a bone scan was recommended, and I thought, "Hmmmmm. I wonder what else is recommended?"

We continued looking at the slices of Rob, moving on to the lungs, at which point he stopped again. He showed me three growths on my lungs, which are classified as non-calcified nodules. Again, the CT Scan report recommended follow up, but did not say with whom, or what kind. Brilliant. Dr. Kottapolly recommended I speak with my oncologist (Dr. Conroy, appointment on Monday) about that.

The other thing mentioned in the CT Scan but not addressed by my urologist was the possible presence of a Medullary Sponge Kidney. More to discuss the next time we meet. Yippee...

Dr. Kottapolly recommended 13-14 treatments at 2500 rads, which is a little shorter, but mostly what I expected. Where he really differed from what I knew was in where the radiation will be applied. The old standard (read as: the one I had read everything about), was that they would radiate the abdomen, moving down from the sternum and hitting the lymph nodes from there to roughly just below the belly button. He would hit the area along the side where the testicle was taken out. It looks like a goalie's stick in hockey, actually, and this is how most doctors refer to it. Dr. Kottapolly said the new (last 6 or 8 years) have removed the "blade" and hit only the stick--the abdomen. This reduces the chance of radiation causing cancer in that area and the bowels, which has been a problem in the past; apparently the radiating this area presents no added benefits, when comparing return rates of cancer. Oddly, I can find nothing on this online, so I put a call in to the Lance Armstrong Foundation, who will put me in touch with a cancer counselor who can help me.

He also suggested I bring my wife next time. "They have the brains, so we like to have them here so they can think for you when you need it," he said sagely. Good idea.

The Funny
As he's describing the procedure, he draws a picture of "me" lying on the table, so he can show where the radiation will be directed. "Hey, doc?" I said.
"The drawing is wrong. You gave me two testicles." We both laughed, then he looked at it and said, "One of these will be the penis. Here. I will make it bigger for you." And he did...very generously.
Still laughing, as I type this...

Why Radiation Instead of Surveillance?
I found a lot of great information about surveillance versus radiation here. I opted for radiation because I wanted to meet this thing head on, kill it, and move on. Also, with my lifestyle, the more frequent follow ups that surveillance require would be problematic. Both of these suit my plan better. I discussed this with Dr. Kottapolly and he confirmed both of these for me. Granted, he is "selling" radiation, but I was glad he said exactly what I believed.

What to expect
Treatments are expected to last about 10 minutes, or less.
The normal symptoms associated with radiation are tiredness, nausea, and I've got that going for me, which is nice.

Next Steps
Oncology appointment on Monday with Dr. Conroy
Bone Scan on Monday, consisting of two separate tests
Call cancer counselor re: new procedure for radiation related to testicular cancer

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Ran Yesterday

I went out yesterday morning and ran a local neighborhood route. I did a simple 5 minute warm-up and then just shuffled through the run. My pace was really slow, but it felt good, again, to get out and be moving. I was still sore from from Monday's (pathetic) workout.

It's going to be a while to get back to "running", but I'm actually more than okay with that. Slow and steady wins the race, I've read. I'm more upset (which is actually too strong a word but the right one escapes me) by my pathetic show of (or lack of a show of) strength on Monday.

...still, cutting myself slack...

Benefits of a Healthy Lifestyle...

I feel like I'm in the Masque of the Red Death, the Edgar Allne Poe story about a disease that comes to take everyone in the town. In the past two weeks, everyone in my office has been sick...except me, Mr. Cancer.

Perhaps it's a combination of eating right (lots of veggies and fruit, coupled with low fat proteins and healthy fats), drinking lots of water, washing my hands a lot and being active. Or, it might just be dumb blind luck. Or, God's Providence.

Just trying to keep it at bay and shooing people out of my cubicle.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Roller Coaster...General Thoughts

I’ve been riding the ups and downs of this cancer-thing for some time, now. Most of the time I am focused on simply kicking the crap out of it, and that’s a good thing. Other times, it’s hard; my friend Bill calls it the Genie in the Bottle…every once in a while, it gets out. I took yoga a while ago, and it has been helpful for me to rely on something I learned in the post-workout meditation session. Sometimes things crop up: bad thoughts, loneliness, fear. In meditation, you’re taught to acknowledge those things, but not to give them value. “Oh, there’s a thought. Interesting. Moving along…” As strange as that sounds, it’s really helped.

Also, I wasn’t sleeping real well. Four to five hour nights were becoming more common. I slept late on Saturday and Sunday, and I went to bed early last night. I’ve found my mood and energy level have improved drastically, and I am trying to go back to a “normal” sleeping pattern.

Last, I started working out again (I'm going to keep a journal at Beginner Triathlete). I cut the lawn and did some weedwhacking on Sunday. I know that’s not a workout for most people, but it was, sadly, pretty tiring for me. Still, it felt good to get out and get moving, to get the blood flowing.

On Monday night, I did supersets of pushups, squats (with no weight other than body weight), chair dips and Swiss Ball Crunches. It was actually pretty pathetic, and I couldn’t even finish the third set. Two months off, surgery and cancer have put me pretty much back to square one. Not that it’s a bad thing, in all honesty. I’m just going to take it slow, and build from where I am now.

More Pirate Stuff, for TLAPD


That's right, me mateys! It's International Talk Like a Pirate Day! So get some pirattitude, grab some booty and head for the high seas...


Monday, September 18, 2006

Tumor Humor...

The Cancer Primer...Don't Be Panic!
Okay, getting and having cancer isn't funny. That having been said, I'd have to say THIS IS PRETTY FUNNY! Even though "every people in the world know about well about this dangerous disease," this video will serve to give you all the important information you need to know as you deal with people with cancer. I hope this helps...

...and, remember: No smoking!

Some videos...

I thought THIS ONE was a lot of fun. I really like his spirit.

If you're in the mood for laughs, you need to see Chad Vader.

Part One
Part Two
Part Three

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Two Wolves...

A Grandfather from the Cherokee Nation was talking with his grandson.

"A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.

"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves."

"One wolf is evil and ugly: He is anger, envy, war, greed, self-pity, sorrow, regret, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, selfishness and arrogance."

"The other wolf is beautiful and good: He is friendly, joyful, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, justice, fairness, empathy, generosity, true, compassion, gratitude, and deep VISION."

"This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other human as well."

The grandson paused in deep reflection because of what his grandfather had just said. Then he finally cried out; "Grandfather, which wolf will win?"

The elder Cherokee replied, "The wolf that you feed."

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Good News

I met with Doctor Wenger yesterday and he confirmed what we had expected. There is NO METASTASIS (cancer-speak for spreading to other organs and areas of the body), NO INFECTION OF THE LYMPH NODES, and the type of cancer I had was PURE SEMINOMA (the good kind, which is treatable by radiation, meaning I don't have to go through chemotherapy and all that really terrible stuff.

The nurse asked me when I had my orchiectomy. When I told her, she was amazed at how well I was getting around. There is no hitch in my giddy-up, so she was impressed. Cool.

The Funny
Along with my Left Radical Inguinal Orchiectomy (note: I like the TCRC page better, but it was down as of this writing), I also had a vasectomy. Today my daughter saw the specimen cup that I need to bring back in two months to make sure I am complete (or is that incomplete?) make sure the vasectomy was done right.
She picks it up and says, "What's this, Daddy?"
"I have to use it to take a test to make sure I'm still healthy," I replied.
"Oh. So I can't use it to catch bugs?"
"No, honey. But we can use a different container."

Next Steps
I go to see the radiation oncologist on Friday, the regular oncologist on Monday the 25th and to get a second opinion, possibly, on the Thursday the 28th. Then, we develop a radiation plan, which will, in all probability, last 4-6 weeks.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Power of Prayer...

I am reading a book now called Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett, about a hostage takeover of a birthday party in South America.

According to Amazon:
In Ann Patchett's Bel Canto, an unnamed South American country, a world-renowned soprano sings at a birthday party in honour of a visiting Japanese industrial titan. Alas, in the opening sequence, just as the accompanist kisses the soprano, a ragtag band of 18 terrorists enters the vice-presidential mansion through the air-conditioning ducts. Their quarry is the president, who has unfortunately stayed home to watch a favourite soap opera--and thus, from the beginning, things go awry.
Among the hostages are not only Hosokawa and Roxanne Coss, the American soprano, but an assortment of Russian, Italian and French diplomats. A Swiss Red Cross negotiator named Joachim Messner is roped into service while on holiday. He comes and goes, wrangling over terms and demands, and the days stretch into weeks, the weeks into months.

One of the characters is a priest, and when his parish finds out he is among the hostages, they begin to say the mass in his name. One of the things that he says, as he begins to consider this, is how amazing it is that his name is being lifted up from so many people, and that these people are lifting his name up to the very ear of God. I had never considered your prayers in quite that way until I read this passage. Now that I have, I will never be able to think of it otherwise.

The Waiting is the Hardest Part...

I am trying to keep my mind busy and not dwell on all of the "what ifs..." that come with this kind of territory. The next step is an appointment with Doctor Wenger on Tuesday, so I'll be reading, probably writing, and trying to stay otherwise-occupied until then.

It's been a heck of a week. Going back to work, car breaking down, my computer at work picked up a MAJOR virus...I have not been this happy to see Friday roll around in a long, long time. Frankly, I'm exhausted.

That being said, there is also a great deal for which to be thankful. For example, we have not had a lot of rain in Pennsylvania this summer...until about two weeks ago, when God left the spigot running and we got drenched with the remains of Ernesto. Needless to say, the formerly parched patch of earth that was once my lawn went from sandlot to jungle in about a week. My neighbor, Bob, called me and asked if he could cut my lawn. "YES!" So he came over and cut my grass for me, and all it took was losing a testicle and an ice-cold Yuengling Lager.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Back to Work...

I don't have any pain related to the Vasectomy. I understand how guys think they are feeling better and can disregard doctor's orders and do things like go hiking, lift weights, or even go for a bike ride (I know someone who did this, and eneded up with an infection--yikes! LISTEN TO YOUR DOCTOR!) before they are fully healed and ready. The Orchiectomy (Losing Lefty, as you may call it) still has a huge lump where they cut through the muscle wall at the bikini line, and this is where all of my pain is centralized these days.

I'm doing a lot better now. It was weird, because for a while I felt I wasn't improving much at all. Every day, I woke up with pretty much the same level of pain as the day before. On Sunday, my daughter noticed a difference first: "Daddy, you're moving around MUCH better today."
"You know what, you're right honey. I am," I replied. I felt like a huge load had been lifted off, and the pain was incrementally less.

I went back to work yesterday. On top of still being sore, my car almost didn't start, so I also had to take that to the garage to get a new battery and positive cable. Needless to say, I was pretty wiped by the end of the day.

Today was a little better. I have had considerably less pain the last two days, and, consequently, this takes less out of me. Additionally, I am taking Tylenol to manage the pain and that has made things so much better than the Oxycodone (Percocet). I don't miss that icky feeling I got with the Percocet at all.

I am also managing to get around much better. I can walk the dog around the block without feeling pain or getting worn out. I can also do a shuffle-run. Not a full run, but more like the NFL-Practice-I-just-caught-a-pass-and-I-know-people-are-looking-at-me-kind-of-shuffle-run (Think: TO, without all the baggage...).

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

My friend Michael...

continues to struggle to find an answer to what is going on with his son. When you pray, would you please give God a shout to build up Jack, and the family as well. You can also leave a comment on MICHAEL'S BLOG to let him know the family is in your prayers, if you're so inclined.

Pinch Me...

I don't know why I find THIS ONE so amusing, but I do...

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Midnight, Not a Sound from the Pavement...

I went for my CAT Scan. The procedure was fairly straightforward. Vanessa did my intake and she was bubbly and cheerful (She's going on a cruise in 5 months, she just found out she can go for $100 dollars less than she thought, and she gets to meet people like me--what's not to be cheerful about?). She gave me the requisite forms, which I filled out and corrected. As a former teacher, it disturbs me to go to the office of professionals and receive documents with typographical errors, so I always make the corrections in the hopes that someone will 1) notice 2) care and 3) make the changes. I handed them back and went in to get my IV.

Nobody likes needles. I like them less than most. At least, I used to like them less than most people. One of the byproducts of being poked, pricked and prodded is that I have lost the fear I used to have of needles. It probably helps to have professionals who hit the vein every time, but I just don't fear them like I once did. Vanessa brought out the needle and the tourniquet, tied my arm off, inserted the needle into the vein in one professional stab and set up the tube for an IV drip.

The needle was a different system than I had seen before. They inserted the needle, then slipped it out and a flexible plastic tube remained in my arm. This enables the IV to move around without snapping the needle off in my arm while I move around in the CAT Scan.

Next, I went into the CAT Scan room, where Stephanie was waiting. She was a charming, attractive woman with a warm demeanor and a nice laugh; I like her immediately (Note to single guys--while I don't recommend testicular cancer as a way to meet women, I have noticed A LOT of pretty, single women in the health field. Bonus: they're extremely smart, too!). Then, she asked me to drop the trousers to my knees (one more thing that no longer makes me nervous at all), get up on a table and lie down. The table was in front of a large, 8 foot machine that looks like a doughnut. I quickly deduced they would raise (high the table, Carpenters...20 extra credit points if you can name the reference) and feed me through the hole in the doughnut.

The Procedure:
First, they did, indeed, raise me up and feed me through the hole. Stephanie took a series of images with no IV drip in my arm. I was asked to inhale, hold my breath and wait while the machine operated. The breath holds lasted for periods between 5 seconds and 35 seconds. The machine whirred to life, and a little disc spun on the inside of the doughnut, taking the pictures.

When she came back in to the room, Stephanie told me she and Vanessa were cracking up that I made corrections on the forms in the waiting room of the office. She also appreciated the corrections, and said she will work to make sure they are made. I like her even more.

Second, she pulled me out of the hole, then inserted my IV and began the process again. The IV dripped Barium into my system, a dye that filled in around my organs, allowing the machine to take pictures of the areas of contrast where the dye did and did not not fill in. I felt warm and fuzzy all over, a very comfortable feeling. I got put into the chamber and was again asked to hold my breath for various lengths of time, this time between 5 seconds and almost a minute.

Then, it was over. Stephanie came back in, told me I was done and that she will forward the results to Dr. Wenger's office, which works because I am due for an appointment there in a week and a half. Hopefully, my results will be more conclusive that this:

She also said she was impressed I was able to hold my breath for the entire period of the longer scans. One more advantage of being in good shape.
Interestingly, there seems to be no shortage of CAT Scan humor (humour to my International friends). Perhaps THIS and THIS are examples of why Vanessa and Stephanie were in such a good mood.