Thursday, July 22, 2010

What Our Bodies Do Behind Our Backs

Roger had the PET scan on Tuesday, and it took much longer than it was supposed to because the computers malfunctioned. He was given the radioactive material at 8:00 am, and then waited for an hour for it to reach maximum scanning density. At 9:00 the tech support discovered that the computers were down. Several problems arose with that scenario, one of which is that the radioactivity starts to degrade after one hour. So, Roger sat in some waiting room for a long time with nothing but People Magazine and Star to read, which he simply could not bring himself to do. The tech support did finally get the computers up and running, but it was one and a half hours past the maximum radioactive density. So, each scan took several minutes longer than it should have. I sat bored to tears in the lobby waiting room, listening to Kenny G do elevator music for a very long time.

On Wednesday the oncologist came into the examining room grinning from ear to ear. We liked that immediately. He often has to deliver very bad news, and we could tell by that smile he was not about to do that. Roger's PET scan was GREAT. There was absolutely no sign of cancer in any of his other organs. I told the doctor that I hoped he wouldn't mind, but I just had to get up and do my happy dance, which I did. So, we just had to deal with the presence of cancer cells in the lymph nodes. Not a good thing, but not Stage 4 cancer. Whew.

Then came the long conversation about how to proceed and the mind-boggling cost of health care in our country. The best medical opinions say that Roger should have chemotherapy because colon cancer recurs 50% of the time within five years. If he were to do the most aggressive therapy, it cuts that risk in half. And, if he were to do that therapy with only Medicare, our out of pocket expense for just the chemo will be $20,000. It's an amazing conversation to have with a doctor and his or her staff. They apprised us of all the ways to cut some of the costs, but it is still a crazy thing to have to think about while you are faced with trying to figure out how to save your own life. Just today I heard that John Boehner said if he were to become Speaker of the House by November's vote, the first thing he would do is repeal the health care bill. Oh really, John? What is your definition of civility?

Roger plans to do the the aggressive chemo treatment. The side effects are pretty intense and overwhelming. What I wonder is this: should it be called a side affect if ABSOLUTELY EVERYONE who takes the treatment gets it? For instance, everyone who takes Leucovorin and Oxaliplatin develops a wild and intense intolerance for cold. You can't put your hands in the refrigerator, walk out into the winter air, step out of the shower on to a cold tile floor, or eat ice cream. (That's just the short list.) If everyone experiences that, that's not a side-effect that is THE EFFECT. Maybe I don't understand what a side-effect is. Aversion to cold may not be the intended effect, but that is the effect. Oh whatever. I hate modern medicine.

Anyway, the alternative (besides doing nothing) is to do an oral medication that has other wacky side effects like causing severe pain and blistering in the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet. It only reduces the recurrence risk by half of the more aggressive treatment. Not likely that Roger plans to choose that one.

This is life at the moment. We're truly ecstatic that we're not dealing with an even worse-case scenario, but we both wish that our bodies gave us more cues and clues about what the hell is going on instead of keeping these secrets from us behind our backs. What kind of evolutionary response is that? Waiting for things to get almost out of hand before there's any clue? STUPID STUPID STUPID.

Roger is recovering quite well from the surgery. He'll be ready for chemo the second week of August. I'm ready too... we're going to kick some ass!

(Photo of squirrel stretched out on our driveway. We find them in this pose quite often. They love all the birdseed. They are happy.)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Quiet Times

This Cooper's Hawk has been hunting the yard, reminding me of old times in Washington.
I rescued this Ctenucha rubroscapus moth from the pond. Wading into mucky-bottomed water is definitely not my favorite, but I love these red-shouldered ctenuchas. This guy took a few minutes to recover and then flew off quite cheerfully.

No pic of the very beautiful gray fox that was hanging out by the pump house. I'm pretty sure it had its eye on our kitty cat who was aware of its presence but not enough to sense danger. Our neighbors told us we had a pair of foxes down at the base of our driveway. In the heat of summer we close the blinds on the western side of the house and miss a lot of wildlife action.

Roger is recuperating. Everything takes time.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

moving on

i've had enough medical stuff for a while. there will be more, but for now i have a garden to tend.

we may not have a winter garden in this year, but the little summer garden that was here is full of fine food. the broccoli and cabbage were scrawny little stalks that overwintered. we nurtured them and they have rewarded us with edible leaves and flowers. there are two kinds of kale that we planted, and potatoes and red peppers. we will have carrots galore and beets aplenty. when the broccoli and cabbage are done we can plant onions and get a crop this fall. oh. tomatoes in pots and planters too.

thanks again for your support and encouragement and wise counsel about properly recuperating. i have been comforted and humbled, in a very good way, in moments of pain or depression and in moments of exhilaration. in the morning i was to leave the hospital i walked out in the patio and the plants were vibrantly colorful, a magpie sang to me and a black cat appreciated a pet.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Home And Already Doing Chores

All the surgeon said was, "Don't lift anything heavier than ten pounds." Roger has taken that to heart and is doing everything he can without the heavy lifting. Yes, this makes me nervous, but look at the face. He's delighted to be washing Indigo's truck. Happiness must tip the scales on the side of healing.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Would You Pick This Man Up?

He'll do anything to do get out of the hospital, even hitchhike! Roger is making great progress. He's been upgraded to clear liquids, which is a post-colon-surgery milestone. Surgeon says he may be able to come home on Monday, but Tuesday for sure. Roger's been walking around the hospital courtyard and gardens a couple of times a day. He loves the sunlight and flowers. Good for the spirit. We can't wait to get him home. Yes, I'd pick this hitchhiker up any day, even in that weird costume and, as one commenter said, those "high-tech hummingbird feeders!"

Thank you all for your continuing support and good wishes. Love is good medicine.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

From The Hospital, Roger Sez...

hello to you all and mucho thanks for your kind wishes for my recovery. your support is wonderful and helps me thru some depressing moments and pain. i'm on the computer provided for patients and it is very slow and does require patience.