Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Out Door Kitchen

When I stop finding projects to do I will be dead.  I showed you my 600 pound picnic table and it was just looking too isolated by itself.  I decided to create an outdoor kitchen!  I first removed the little window in the existing shed then I stuccoed the entire wall, added the concrete counter complete with sink, then extended the counter, adding a fire pit and charcoal grill.  I may add a propane burner, there is plenty of room.  I will test this out next Sunday with the first bar-b-q  of the season!  I still have to make the benches for the table.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Don't want to see you no more:)

My "Five Year Check up" was yesterday.  Looking back I wonder what I have achieved.  Cancer survivors are not unlike those who survive a plane wreck and wonder, at least at times, "why me"?
I have been asked and even recently, "how did you do it?"  Well, I tell them, it wasn't an asparagus diet nor kerosene and I attribute most of it to just plain luck.  Although "lucky" is not actually how I would describe the process that I went through.  Through the blogging world I have learned of far younger people who failed in this struggle and many others now, as I am, "Cancer-Free".  Nice sound to those words. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Four Years

I had my six month check-up last Friday and am still "Cancer Free", the name of this blog.  Two more six month check ups and I will hit that special five year mark, successfully beating back the caner and its not returning.  Then, a check up once a year as I am pronounced "cured".  I am always reminded of a Franz Kafka Novel when I visit the "Cancer Center", almost any novel he wrote but specifically, "The Trial" about a guy on trial who isn't allowed to know the crime he committed.  That is how it feels on the first visit to these centers:  why me?  what did I do?
   Hodgkin's Lymphoma has a high cure rate if you catch it before it spreads, close to 90% with as little as six chemo treatments.  Mine spread, a lot.  Known as "stage four" it was in my spleen and spinal column and affected all of my lymph nodes.  I was in for a train wreck which I have described earlier on this and another blog.  I had 12 chemos, all pretty much made from left over WWI Mustard Gas (really!) and here I was, in for a check up and seeing new arrivals, waiting for "the procedure"!
You wonder as you are waiting, is it better to have the doctor find nothing or find something early?
I still don't know that answer and I hope I never do.  I left having passed the physical, the blood tests, and all of the pushing and prodding.  Nothing found...good for another six months!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

I am alive!

I have no idea why I got cancer and no idea why I got rid of it.  It's a number's game.  I had a six month checkup today and passed with flying colors.  It has been four years!  Hard to believe. Two more six month checkups then he will switch me to once a year.  My hands are still in pretty bad shape but I am getting used to them.  Pain is funny that way when it becomes normal.
   I am painting my house this summer, already started.  I divided it into about ten sections and one day I will owe wash an area and the next paint it.  It will take me 20 days at that rate.  What would happen in 20 days if I did not do this?  This way it will get done.   That is a big improvement over the last few years when activities like this were not even on the table.
   My garden is in!  The earliest ever.  I planted 3 tomato plants and the normal other stuff.  And 50 potted plants with flowers!  It will be the best ever this year, a celebration to health!
Won't be back here for six months, find me on the other blog:  http://jerry-carlin.blogspot.com     HERE                          

Friday, January 11, 2013

Another Check-up

At noon today I have another appointment with my cancer doctor.  I had forgotten about it, an appointment scheduled over four months ago that I had failed to write on my calendar. They called to remind me, a good thing too because I never think about the doctors or my cancer anymore.
   In a way I feel caught up in a Franz Kafka Novel, a single soul traipsing through corridors and maneuvering the hallways, placed in and out of little examining rooms, blood tests, striped naked and
interrogated.  What crime did I commit?  Will they discover the truth?
   I am sixty six years old now and have all of the pains of growing up, over thirty hard years in the construction industry have left their mark.  My body hurts.  Which pains go in which categories?
Pain is always a symptom that I am not telling the truth.  Something else is going on.  Doctors are doing their job and want to investigate, further interrogations, more exams, get the machines out, really
look into you!  I have avoided these so far, feeling strapped to a chair, beaten and chastised, the doctors saying, "We will find out!" and having me come back every two or three months until they do.
    I have given them my hands and they would have my feet except for the fact they are tough as nails from years in the construction trade, pouring concrete, framing walls, moving steel, all in sandals, the only thing that I have worn for the last 40 years.  The "Cure" got my hands and made my feet numb.
Peripheral Nueropothy they call it, collateral damage.  Fighting Cancer with hand grenades. Two years later it still feels as though my hands were stirring a bucket full of cut glass.
   I get Vicodin for that and refuse to admit it helps all of my other pains.  I never mention the "other" pains for fear of more interrogation, more examinations, more exploring.  It is not a belief in "what you don't know won't hurt you", that isn't it.  I know my pains, some gotten through misdeeds and accidents and others developed and hardened through overuse.
   I do have a tendency to believe that we get what we want out of life with a few exceptions. Of course, I didn't want cancer.  It is still a mysterious illness creating caution while talking about it.  It still has a aura of Biblical Deserving, like what did I do to get this?  Why was I stupid enough not to prevent it?  I am supposed to accept this guilt and I don't but I still feel as though I am in the chair being interrogated every three months until I admit my guilt.
   I choose not to focus on this process.  I would have missed the appointment entirely had they not called me.  I will give them their wanted blood samples and let them push and prod my body and then they will ask:  Do you want the machines?  The MRI and PET and CAT scans?  These are free offerings, I have good insurance but they are still expensive and I choose not to spend someone else's money.
   It has been two years now since my Voodoo Chemical "Cure" and the cancer is gone but the collateral damage remains.  I like to think that is even getting better.  My cancer doctor say it can take up to eight years for the nerves to heal and my regular doctors say in eight years I will be used to it.
I suspect that my regular doctor is right.  I can button my own shirt now although not the cuffs. That is a big improvement. I don't focus on this much, go about my business, plant seeds in the garden and watch them grow.
   The hero in the Home Box Office rendition of Spartacus died of Hodgkin's Lymphoma or more realistically, he died from the cure.  It is pretty barbaric, like putting boiling oil in a wound, Mustard Gas to cure cancer.  He was younger and stronger than I was and it makes me realize that this is all a crap shoot, like LasVegas, a number's game.  It all come down to odds and maybe fate itself.  You live because your number is not up and you die because it is.
   Four more hours and I will walk the halls and sit in the chair.  "How are you feeling?" the doctor will ask, and I will begin the lie.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Last Day of July!

It has been two years since my last chemo cocktail, that voodoo combination of lethal drugs administered by the nurses while adorning hazmat suits in the cancer ward.  I am a survivor!
I am sometimes asked what advice I might have for someone newly diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma or even some other type of cancer?
   Maybe see your doctor sooner might be at the top of my list.  I had noticed a small lump on my neck while shaving at least six months before I went to my doctor!  I kept my eye on it as it grew and became bigger and harder, always thinking that it might go away.  By the time I went for my physical it had spread throughout my lymph system, into my spleen and down my spine.  An earlier visit and I might have gotten away with six chemo sessions.  I had twelve.
   There are some things I would do differently.  I would go to my dentist before I began treatment and get my teeth cleaned and a dental check up.  I developed a blood clot along the way, not all that uncommon, and was given warfarin, made from rat poison (these chemists don't work with fine Scotch!) and because of the potential of bleeding, the dentist didn't want to see me.
   I would have gone to the eye doctor to get new reading glasses.  There will come a time when you will not have the energy to do much else and a good book can become very important.  In fact, I would line up ten or twelve good books and get them in advance, knowing now that I wouldn't even have the energy to look for them.
   I would eat!  I would splurge on food and wouldn't care whether it was healthy or not. During this chemical process I pretty much quit eating and lost almost sixty pounds!  I would find a friend (we all know one!) who has access to marijuana and ask them to roll me a couple joints...just in case!
   I began Blogging during this time and that might have saved my life.  You never know why you survive and someone else doesn't?  The guy who played Sparticus on the television died from Hodgkin's Lymphoma or died from the cure!  Stronger people and those with more faith than I have succumb to this cancer.  I liked blogging.  It was a world without time or direction and I could become reflective or jubilant and my reader's would not care.  I met a lot of friends in the blogging world and always looked forward to their encouragement.  While I might fall asleep in front of the television, blogging kept me awake and I had stories to tell.  And questions to investigate.  I did it this way, how did you do it?  Surviving cancer is best as a shared experience.
    Oh yeah, if I had to do it again I would win the lotto first!  I was lucky and had great insurance but cancer is very expensive.  Health issues are the number one cause of bankruptcy in the USA.
   Anyway, July 31st, two years and here I am!  Still after that "perfect tomato" and once again, strong and welding, making my metal art.  Who would have known?  I post here sporadically now, updates.
My main blog, day to day art and what I am thinking is http://www.jerry-carlin.blogspot.com and, if you are curious, my very first blog was on my ArtWanted site and that will give you a day to day, blow by blow view of the experience I went through.http://www.ArtWanted.com/slate
   Mt next check up with the cancer doctor isn't until October.

Friday, May 11, 2012

As Good As...

How does that expression go?  Not as good as I once was but as good as I was once?  That is me, had my check-up today and short of taking apart my atoms in a MRI I am still "Cancer-Free".  I am pretty sure the doctor only knows this because that is what I tell him;  it was not as though my cancer was warn on my sleeves,
pretty much all invisible inside stuff.  I have no symptoms, no swollen lymph glands and most of the chemo symptoms are gone too, except my forever, it seems neuropathy in my hands!  My price of survival and small one at that.  I keep a photo of me above my desk, taken a couple years ago at my worst.  The cancer never did that to me, it was all in the cure, a beast at best.
   I really can do almost anything now, anything from my younger, stronger days, just in shorter bursts but that can be good too!  I tilled my garden, normally a four hour job that took me two days and I just finished spreading a yard of mulch along the paths to designate walkways.  It will take another yard but that can wait until tomorrow.  Time seems to move in increments now like a watch that stops then jiggles ahead to catch up.
I have discovered that it will wait, all of that capturing and saving time was a lie.  There is no hurry.  Tomorrow will be here soon enough and so much that used to be important and cause me to rush just isn't there any more.
Not that I could hurry,  I am just learning to relax.
   I think that for Cancer People (we are NOT victims!) and maybe all retired people, someone should offer a class in "how to do nothing", there is a certain art in accomplishing nothing.  I am still amazed at how the day disappears and I didn't even get to make a "to do list"!  I am learning to not do that too.
   So my next check up isn't until September and I think my doctor and I chose that date because I could bring him some dried tomatoes!  YES!  It is going to be a good tomato season this year!