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:     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.