Tuesday, September 28, 2010

.333 (Repeating Of Course)

In baseball if you hit .333 you will get in the hall of fame, in basketball if you shoot 33% from downtown you will be rewarded with an 8 figure salary, and if you do anything at a 1/3 clip in the NFL then you will be out of a job.  In my case 33.33% is how far into my chemo treatment I am after yesterday's discharge from the hospital.  Although I still have 4 treatments (and 20 hospital days), it is really nice to have 2 notches on the old belt, and at this point I know I need to start preparing to make the next 4 go as smooth as possible.

As I mentioned on Sunday, the food was pretty brutal during this last admittance.  I actually thought about the smell of "patient dining" this afternoon while walking to get the mail, and I nearly got sick on the sidewalk.  Either way, it is clear now that I can no longer subside on these meals during my stays, so I am going to have to plan out an intricate mix of takeout for Dad to run out for.  We have Quizinos, Moe's, and Mellow Mushroom all within a mile of the hospital, so I think I might plan a mix of meals that will maximize taste and nutrition for the 5 days.  Any favorites from these respective menus that I should try? 

I was discharged yesterday around lunch, and I have been at home trying to rest up ever since.  Draining is the only word to describe these hospital stays, as it just chips away at you one day at a time.  Thankfully I am out though, and I'm looking forward to hopefully going into the office tomorrow and regaining some sense of normalcy.  I am still awaiting the "valley" that tags along with recovering from chemo, so as with the last time I am just taking it one day at a time, and doing as much with my days as I can depending on how I feel.

Later this week I have my first appointment with the radiologist as we begin to plan for the next stage in treatment after chemo.  I would imagine in my case radiation will begin sometime after the first of the year once I'm finished with chemo treatment.  I admittedly know very little about radiation, so I am hoping to get some information on Thursday that can help understand the process a bit better.  Either way, it is sort of nice to be planning for the 2nd stage of the treatment, it definitely beats discussing the side effects of chemo.

All in all, I'm still upbeat and feeling alright (relatively speaking).  I am entirely bald now, and actually that has brought some challenges I hadn't foreseen.  When they say that hair moderates body temperature they weren't kidding.  I continually find my bald head sweating to the point of sticking to the couch or pillow, so I've had to combat that with wearing some of my fashionable skull caps while I rest. How does Bruce Willis do it?

Thank you again everyone who has been checking in and praying for me during this trial, it means the world to me, please stay in touch!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Round 2, Nearly In The Books

Morning everyone! Its day 4 over here at the hospital, and while it hasn't been as smooth a visit as last time, I have to think that my trials have been comparatively better than Mark Richt's over the last few days.  Time to face the fact that UGA just isn't good at tackle football this season.  Despite that, I want to thank whomever mysteriously sent me the amazing signed football this weekend.  Please identify yourself so I can thank you properly.  It was a thoughtful gesture and I appreciate it very much, thank you.

What I have learned here during the 2nd round that this is so draining as it builds up.  I have had bouts of nausea the last two days and really lost my appetite, especially to the hospital food.  You are walking a real thin line when it comes to hospital dining, so if you are feeling even just a little out of sorts then it is really tough to get in the mood to eat this stuff.  Thankfully mom and Lauren have brought me little snacks to supplement what little I can keep down. 

The time is moving somewhat quickly, do in large part to the visits and college football viewing.  The first round was a new experience and thus not necessarily fun, but it was new.  Now that I have been there and done that, the stir craziness creeps in a few days earlier, so you really have to mentally hang in there and stay busy.  It is hard to believe it is already Sunday, which means that I'm headed home tomorrow sometime.  I will say though minor bouts with nausea this week could be foreshadowing of what I have to expect during my recovery week to come.  Either way, I am still feeling relatively well and hopeful for a smooth recovery week ahead.

My next post will be from the outside, so please cross your fingers for a quick and easy discharge tomorrow!


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

BYOP (Bring Your Own Pillow)

Good morning everyone!  The hair is really falling out now, I am rocking the "Hulkamania" bandanna at the office this morning due to some pretty fierce bald spots that have appeared.  What is weird is that my arm hair is still holding on for dear life.  The part that I have eagerly been anticipating though is that I haven't had to shave since Friday.  If for some reason my facial hair never comes back after all of this than you wouldn't hear any complaints from me.  Although that would mean I could never again grow a mustache, it would be worth it to never have to shave again.

I check back into the hospital tomorrow morning for round 2 of my chemo treatment, this time at Emory's Midtown campus (was at University Hospital last time).  I will be enjoying the amazing accommodations for 5 days and 4 nights again this time, so I will hopefully be out sometime Monday afternoon.  As I mentioned during the last treatment, I didn't feel any side effects as they were pumping the poison into me, but I wonder if that will continue this time?  I have talked with a number of people who have enjoyed this same cocktail and they have indicated that the treatment begins to take a toll on you the deeper into it you get, so who knows what will happen this weekend. The Dawgs play at 7pm Saturday night, so I am hoping that maybe there is something to the luck of the hospital and we can finally get a conference victory.  Although with the way we are playing I am wondering if I'm not better served to pop an ambien before kickoff and sleep through the disaster that is UGA football.

One of my main goals for this round of treatment is to try and rest a little bit more.  Last time I mentioned how difficult it is to rest despite sitting in an uncomfortable hospital bed for 5 days.  I think the key to this is to do some more reading, and bring a comfortable pillow from home.  I recently finished Lance Armstrong's book and I really enjoyed the read.  I think it is a quick and easy read for anybody regardless of interest in cancer or cycling.  My next literary hurdle is "The Count of Monte Cristo".  I really liked the movie so I thought I'd give Alexander Dumas' book a shot.  Though I shouldn't call this a hurdle, it is more of a mountian; because according to IBooks this is over 1,800 pages long!  I am currently on page 126, so any bets as to what page I am on when I leave on Monday?

Something else to look forward to with this 2nd treatment cycle pending, is that before round 3 we will take an MRI of my tumor to check to see if it has shrunk any.  If the MR shows shrinkage (different than George Costanza's shrinkage mind you) then that means the chemo is working.  It also means that the chemo is killing any cancer cells that are floating around inside my body.  This is the first big mile marker of my treatment so please cross your fingers for some major shrinking!

Thanks again to everyone for the support and prayers.  My next post will be from my beautiful $1,100 a night suite, so I will let you know how the other .001% live (the unlucky .001% that is).  Until then, please let me know if there are any good pranks that I can play on the nursing staff while I'm locked up!


Sunday, September 19, 2010

So It Begins...

Evening all, hope y'all had a better football weekend than I did. I guess there is more to life right? Quick post because I wanted to say that my buzzed hair is starting to fall out. I scratched my head and came away with a small clump of hair. It's really pretty crazy, because although I've been expecting this, you are never prepared to pull out hair clumps. On the bright side, if enough comes out by morning, maybe I can wear my "Hulkamania" bandanna to work tomorrow.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Gameday Luck

Happy gameday all!  I hope everyone is ready for a great day of college football.  I wish my sister luck as she is up in big orange country with the Dooley family preparing to take in the UT/UF game this afternoon.  I'm hoping she gets some t.v. time if the cameras ever pan to the family during the coverage.

After being sick from Sunday evening into Tuesday, I really bounced back quickly this week and I've felt great ever since.  Dr. Movva even mention how amazing my blood counts changed from critical on Monday to very good on Wednesday.  I think that goes to show how fortunate I am to be young and healthy when faced with this fight.  I can only imagine what a 55 year old obese person with lung cancer must feel during treatment.  Since I have put my first recovery week behind me, I get a few days of normal health until it is time to check back in for round 2 on Thursday.  They are potentially moving me from Emory University to Emory Midtown for this cycle, which would mean very little other than the view from my window could improve.

This past Wednesday I had the opportunity to attend the monthly Sarcoma Support Group meeting at the hospital.  This is a great organization that allows sarcoma survivors to get together and learn about new treatments, raise awareness, casually talk with the doctors, and just get to know others that have been through a similar fight.  I met some inspirational people the other night who were quick to share their stories and also offer assistance to me during my struggle.  One takeaway from Wednesday that still blows my mind is just grasping how rare sarcomas are.  I believe they said there are approx 300 or so new cases a year in Georgia.  From there you have something like 40+ subclasses which skew the stats even further.  Take my case, I have a Synovial Sarcoma, and Ned (the group leader) noted that they have only had 2-3 Synovial survivors come through during the 3 years of the group's existence, that is crazy!  For a guy who struggles to win the red/black bet at roulette, it is so my luck to develop such a rare cancer, but I digress.

Speaking of luck, I am starting to get concerned with my gameday luck this fall.  The Dawgs are 1-0 when I watch from the hospital, but 0-1 when I watch from home.  Granted the sample size would hardly be considered significant, it is still spooking me a bit.  If this trend should continue then I will have to figure out a way to get admitted for the GA/FLA game in October, since that is a non-hospital week for me.  Anyways, with all that said, does anybody have any weird superstitions about where you watch your team play?  I know all the Dawg fans are consumed with how/where they watch the Florida game and its bearing on our overall performance.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the weekend!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Who Needs P90X?

Good evening everyone.  I just wanted to post a quick update after last night.  Last night was pretty rough, I had trouble keeping down food, though I'm not sure if that was because of the chemo or watching the offense on display in the Jets/Ravens game.  I have officially lost my appetite, and am proud to say that I have joined the select club of 70 somethings who enjoy a diet of Ensure on a daily basis.

I have definitely started to feel a little bit better after last night, baby steps for sure, but still improvement is improvement. I am hopeful that I will be back to feeling good again in another day or so.  I will say I think I might be on to a new weight loss program.  When they weighted me at my appointment yesterday it indicated I'd lost 6 pounds since Thursday.  What is amazing about that is I didn't lose my appetite until Monday, so it wasn't due to a lack of eating.  I guess there is no "normal" when you have Health Ledger's medicine cabinet flowing through you on a daily bases.

On another note, I wanted to share some of the songs that I have put together that help pull me through when I am feeling down.  As I have blogged in the past, I am by no means a music xpert, but hey, I like what I like.
Here is a sample of some of the songs I listen to when doing my laps in the hospital:

"Armageddon It"  Def Lepard
"The One And Only"  Countdown
"Video Killed the Radio Star"  Buggles
"Dancing With Myself"  Billy Idol
"Train in Vain"  The Clash
"Somebody's Baby" Jackson Brown
"Silly Love Songs"  Wings
"Wake Me Up(Before You Go Go)"  Wham!*

*Yes, I really like this Wham! song, so shoot me

Anyways, that is a little snapshot into what I am listening to during the rough times.  What would be on your playlist?


Monday, September 13, 2010

Hit By A Bus

Greeting all, hope the weekend was good!  My weekend was rough with that putrid showing by the Dawgs, but at the end of the day I guess that stuff doesn't matter so much.

I survived the early part of the weekend side effect free, but last evening I started to feel some discomfort sneaking in.  I woke up this morning feeling like I was hit by a bus.  I have lost my appetite, and have a splitting headache.  The worst part of the headache is it becomes darn near impossible to relax and rest when your head is pounding so.  I had blood work taken this morning that pretty much confirms what I've been feeling, in that my blood counts have dropped and I am entering that valley period that could last a few days.  

Once you start feeling poorly from this, you realize how as a healthy adult you rarely feel bad, even when you are sick.  I think the affect of these symptoms might be multiplied for me since I am so unaccustomed to feeling sick.  Either way, I know that I have to suck it up and get through the next few days, because sooner than later my  body will bounce back and I will have a week or so without any ill effects.  In the mean time I'm trying to understand how the Dawgs only scored 6 points, and also figure out what is going on in AMC's "Rubicon".

Not much else to report this week, other than offer my little home as the location for the college football pity party:  UGA,UT, GATech, VaTech, FSU,  and Miami fans are welcome to drown their sorrows with me this weekend, talking about a culture clash... Those are 4 really different universities.

Sorry for the lack of humor and other information this evening, but I just wanted to reach out and let everyone know that I am fighting like a rabid dog this week..  When I recover a little bit I will try to do a better job.

P.S.  I hope the Jets lose by 45 tonight.


Saturday, September 11, 2010


I just want to post this morning and give a quick shout to all of my amazing friends in Nashville that put together a great care package for me.  I am so touched to have the support, and I hope you all know that I will be right there for each of you should you come upon hard times.  A big thanks to Andrew and Virg for coordinating the whole endeavor, yall are the best!  Thank you again everyone for the many different forms of support you've shown me!!!

Enjoy your college football saturday, go dawgs!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Getting Tired From Rest

No matter what, you are tired when you get home from vacation.  Whether you climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro or sat on a hammock in St. Barts, you always come home tired.  Why is that?

I would not consider my recent 5 day/4 night stay at Emory a vacation, but it was a a trip that entailed a whole lot of laying around.  Despite that, I find myself so incredibly tired now that I am home.  But I am home, and with that comes so many of life's luxuries, such as showering and rolling over.  I spent the rest of Tuesday after discharge getting prescriptions filled ( how do you keep all these pills straight grandma!?), and picking up some groceries with mom and dad. I finally got to relax a little on Wednesday when I spent the day trying to catch up on rest and meds in order to stay ahead of the side effects. With that being said, I am still here waiting to see what each day brings in terms of side effects.  The doctors have said that days 7-10 will be the ones where I will feel the weakest and most sick, so if the schedule stays true than that will be this coming Tuesday - Thursday.  I am hoping that the side effects pass me by, but I am ready for whatever is in store just the same!

I spent most of this morning waiting on a FedEx shipment from CVS that included my post chemo shots.  The point of these is to take them within 48 hours of the end of your chemo cycle.  These shots trigger your bone marrow to start producing white blood cells that will then help keep your cell count high during the valley days (~7-10 after treatment).  Finally the big refrigerated box arrived this morning and I went about the process of trying to figure out how to shoot myself up with a needle.  Due to the fact that I haven't spent much time with Roger Clemens or Amy Winehouse, I was admittedly a little skid-dish about my first self-administered injection.  I did find the directions helpful (do dealers provide these?), and I was able to stick the needle into my right abdominal, it really didn't hurt (perhaps because of the lack of muscle?), so that was a relief, seeing as how I will have to do this 5 more times between now and the end of the year.

So once you get over the hurdle of administering the shot, the next natural step (as with everything in this process) is to understand the side effects.  For this particular drug they told me to expect sever joint pain in about 24 hrs.  This is because the blood cells are manufactured in the joints, so the pain is caused by the triggering of cell generation.  The other side effect is "you may feel crazy"...  That seems pretty vague, don't you think?  If "crazy" should hit me, I hope it hits me like the anesthesia did after the biopsy, when I broke into the them song for "California Dreams".  Have any requests?  The only other thing I can ask is please don't hold it against me if you see me in a crazy daze running down Howell Mill in nothing but my reverse snuggie (bath robe).

But seriously though, I have gotten through the first few days really well, and thank you to everyone who has checked in on me since discharge.  I was even able to come into the office this afternoon and catch up with all my coworkers, who have just been a tremendous support group for me during this battle.  I can't begin to thank the entire AMP Team at The Home Depot enough for what they have meant to me. 

For the record, Dawgs 24 - USC 13


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Numbers Game

Morning everyone!  I am still here at the Emory hospital, waiting on the Dr's okay to check out after rounds later this morning.  As I reflect on my 5 day/4 night excursion, I thought summarizing my stay with  numbers would be interesting, so here it goes:

7  The number of total miles I have walked around the ward between Friday and Monday

750  Ounces of water I have drank since being admitted.  That would be 93+ 8 oz glasses FYI

0  Actual showers I have had since Friday morning.  I've had to settle for self-administered sponge baths due to being on the IV constantly

12 Consecutive hospital meals I've consumed.  The best meal is breakfast (how can you screw that up?), but overall the food wasn't half bad

14  Amazing visitors have come to spend time with me while I sit hear watching my 18" TV.  Thank you everyone from the bottom of my heart for stopping in and keeping me company!

53  The lowest heart beats per minute I observed during all the times my vitals have been measured this week

5  The highest number of IV bags that were being sent into my veins at one time

 $150K  I am estimating this with no inside information, but I would imagine that this might only be a low guess as to exactly how much this 5 day treatment stay would cost retail.  It could very well be 3x this, that my friends is crazy

25  The number of days I still have to spend in the hospital until I have completed all 6 of my chemo cycles

I hope everyone has a good start to the short week.  I will post again once I get home and settled.  I am fully prepared for the nausea and worn out feeling that will accompany being off the drip.Thanks for the support!



Saturday, September 4, 2010

My Holiday Getaway

Good evening everyone!  Before I begin I would like to offer my condolences to my Ole Miss friends on the death of their football season.  I watched the end of that game and I couldn't believe what I had witnessed, it must have been so devastating for an alum/fan.   It was the opposite for us Dawg fans, the boys put on a show and I think they are ready for the Cocks next weekend.  I know we have a few USC alums who read, so hopefully they won't be too hurt after the Junkyard Dawgs silence that damn bird next weekend.

I am writing this from my all-inclusive resort; a place where all meals are served in the privacy of your room and where activities are planned on an hourly basis, it is great!  Yes, I am talking about Emory University Hospital!!  In all seriousness, this first hospital stay has been pretty good thus far.  The nurses have been very kind, and it has been great to have family and friends stopping in to help pass the time.  I have felt no side effects yet from the drugs, so that has allowed me to feel good over these past few days.  I am on a constant IV drip that is comprised of chemo drugs and some meds that help prevent side effects and pave the way for the chemo drugs.  The chemo drug doxorubicin is so toxic that a normal sized IV bag can only be distributed over a 24 hour period.  You can probably get through the same sized bag of basic hydrating fluid in a couple of hours, so it is pretty wild how slow it drips.  My IV stand has about 5 wires going from the machine into my port (Think "The Matrix", but with better acting).  I am encouraged to walk around the perimeter of the oncology wing, of which 21 laps equals a mile.  I have walked 30 and 32 laps the last two days respectively.  The only reason I haven't done more is because I want to spend time with my guests, and it would be silly for us to do such walking in a single file line.  For my walks I unplug my IV dispenser and I wheel it around with me on battery power, so it is tough to move to fast with the creaky old cart at my side.  

To this point I feel no different than I did when I was admitted on Friday.  They told me that some people begin to feel nauseous, but I haven't felt it yet (one of my drips prevents this).  I think that is the main question I have been asked by friends and family is regarding how I feel with this stuff pumping into my veins, and my only answer is that there is no feeling, you barely know it is going on.  The difficult thing to this point has been trying to figure out how to sleep.  They offered me an ambien last night, but I was a little worried about how long it would knock me out for into this morning, so I asked for a half.  That was a mistake, as it wasn't enough to put me under, and I then had trouble falling back asleep after the routine checkups they do during the night to observe my vitals and monitor my drip.  I am going to take a full one tonight, so hopefully I can catch a few more z's.

As a healthy 28 year old, the weirdest part about being here is that I am the only one of my kind.  The other patients on the wing are much older, and some are further into their treatments (I assume, or else they were looking pretty rough "nornally").  I feel like I don't belong here when I take my walks and get to see the poor souls fighting similar fights as mine.  I mean, it probably isn't much of a boast when I say I can walk the fastest mile on this hall, nurses included.  But again, I am in my first cycle, and even with a great attitude, I bet things will be vastly different during cycle 5, after ~4 months of destroying my body and then  letting it recover only to destroy it to the brink all over again.  Without a doubt this will test my resolve and mental toughness, but as I have maintained from the beginning, I am going to roll with every punch thrown, and do my best to keep my sense of humor regarding the whole situation.

In closing I would like to recognize some other hospital news, the good kind:  loyal friends Matt/Kate Boyer and  Barry/Lucy Strozier are both set to receive visits from the stork later this week.  Congratulations to you both, and thank you especially for the amount of concern/care you've all shown me despite your current situations! 

I will post again before I head home for recovery so enjoy the weekend, and don't forget to root for VaTech to beat Boise St.  Also root for occasional reader Stewart Cink(only guy I will have more hair than in a few days) this weekend in the PGA TOUR playoffs.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Its Go Time!

Well, I got the news that tomorrow is the beginning of the next step of my journey.  I am scheduled to be admitted at Emory to begin chemo tomorrow morning.  I will be in the hospital on a constant drip until sometime on Tuesday.  Obviously this is a new way to spend the Labor Day Weekend, so I will be sure to let yall know if this is more fun than going to Georgia games and the lake, haha.  I will have my own room and t.v. so I should be set for watching inter-collegiate tackle football on Saturday.  It was actually kind of funny, when she asked me if I had any questions, the first think I could think to ask was what the cable t.v. package was like at the hospital.  My guess is that wasn't the usual first question in that situation.

One thing she did tell me today is that I shouldn't eat fruit that is peeled by Denny's employees. I think this is excellent advice, and I would recommend this advice to cancer patients and healthy people alike.  I could be wrong, but I believe this advice holds true to Shoney's and Huddle House as well.

So with that in mind I am now trying to figure out how to pack for a 4 day stint in the hospital.  Thankfully I have my new UGA scrubs to wear on Saturday for the game.  I assume I have at least basic cable in my room, so that means on Labor Day I will be able to catch the "Police Academy" marathon or whatever cheesy hook TBS is pushing for the holiday.  I am expecting a few visitors to pass the time, as my dear friend Michael Patterson is driving down to watch the game with me (one year ago this same man was at the UGA opener in Oklahoma wearing an unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt, so I'm not the only one experiencing a different kind of gameday), as well as my sister Lauren.  Mom and Dad are coming up Friday, so it will be great to spend some time with them, playing board games and watching football.  My dad also promised to play golf in my honor tomorrow, though I have a feeling it will turn up being more of a slap in the face to me when he slops around and shoots 88 (sorry dad).

In actuality the process of receiving chemo isn't very traumatic or anything(from what I've been told), but it is the side effects that will follow a few days later when things get interesting.  But where I am sitting, I can't worry about the possibility of the side effects, and instead I will focus on staying in good spirits and passing the time while in the hospital.  Like many of you, I hate being in hospitals, but at this point I pretty much have to get over that uneasiness and just roll with it.

I'm off to enjoy my last night at home for a while.  My next post will be from the hospital, so I hope everyone enjoys the beginning of the college football season tonight, and of course, thank you everyone for the support!!!