Tuesday, August 21, 2012

34. A Flame about this high

Also, radiation.

Wow, two in-jokes deep right at the start. That's a long way to go to avoid using the word "ass" on a blog where I drop the f bomb pretty regular. Anyway, don't worry if you don't understand the title or what I'm talking about, I'll explain at the end of this post.

Anyway, yes, as we near the finish line of the radiation/chemo stage of fighting my stubborn ass tumor, I have gotten a sunburn in what doctors call "the bathing suit area." OK, they don't call it that. But that's what it is. I'm red and peel-y all around my nethers.

Which isn't a great deal of fun, but it's not as bad as I feared when I heard about these side effects at the beginning. For one thing, I haven't had it long, which makes it easier to handle. For another, it's not quite as bad as a real sunburn. I don't have constant pain, I can sit and move pretty comfortably, it's just that if I move or something rubs up against the wrong area I get that "yeowch" like your jackass "funny friend" slapping your sunburned back. Except instead of back, substitute "sensitive nether regions."

This has made certain everyday tasks, like putting on pants or going to the bathroom (a more frequent occasion thanks to the tumor/treatment) more of an adventure than it might ordinarily be.

However, as I keep saying, and I'm really not a glass half-full guy in general, but when it comes to cancer I guess I am, if this is the worst I get, it really could be a lot worse. What's a little genital sunburn and extra naps between friends? The doctor keeps telling me I'm handling the treatment really well, and I like being told I'm doing well at something, even if that something is just "not getting horrible side effects," which honestly is kind of a thing I'd want to be good at regardless.

Anyway, six sessions left over the next two weeks, and then it's on to the next phase, the horribly invasive and possibly life-changing massive surgery to take this tumor bitch out. As you can tell, I'm a little nervous about that one, and not just because it means another trip to Houston.

Two trips, actually. In mid-September we've got a two-day trip to talk and evaluate, with the promise of no jamming any cameras up inside me because my butt will still be hurting from the radiation (yay!). And talking to their "genetics counselors" which sounds like they want to talk about my emerging mutant powers but in fact is about my having possibly tested possible for "lynch syndrome", which basically means that it's more likely this is a hereditary thing I've given to my kids (yay again!) But the first test they got was negative, and literally *no one* in my family has had cancer before, so either I'm the first case or they got it wrong.

If I'm the first case, it means that "lynch syndrome" is my mutant power. I would *so* much rather have had teleportation, invisibility or a healing factor.

Anyway, the second trip is for the surgery, which has been scheduled for (I kid you not) Halloween. Hopefully the surgeon won't dress up in a scary clown costume or something. I'm kinda bummed to miss out on trick or treating, but more bummed to have someone sawing into my ass to take things out, so y'know... priorities. No idea how long I'll be in Houston to recover, but I'm sure it'll be longer than I want. With any luck, though, the surgery will get the cancer, and the follow-up chemo will get rid of any lingering microcopic bits and in April, we'll be able to write all this off as the shittiest 41st birthday present ever and move on.

OK... to explain the title. There's an old joke where a guy says "You know what burns my ass?" (an expression that means you know what bothers me?) and the other guy says "No, what?" and he says, holding his hand up to his ass, "A flame about this high."

See? Totally worth the explanation. We all laughed, right?

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

33. Iron Man

No, not this guy
So when last we left our intrepid cancer patient, he was having a bit of a rough week.

I'm happy to report that, almost halfway through the chemo/radiation (tomorrow is day 14 of 28), I'm feeling much, much better.

Not just in general, although I am feeling better in general, but specifically the fatigue and blechiness that was just killing me is more or less gone.

Turns out that one of the side effects of the chemo/radiation is that I'd gotten a bit anemic. So every Monday, starting two weeks ago, they've started giving me iron before they plug in my pump. And the difference is like night and day.

On the first Monday when I got the iron, I didn't even nap when I got home, I just kept going. Same with most of that week. I've been a little more tired this week, but I think a lot of that is down to me feeling good enough to actually be up and about a bit more, exerting myself and actually using up what energy I have.

There's not much news on the tumor as of yet. We looked at the scans on Tuesday, and the doctor said (I can't read those things, even when they explain them to me) that while there isn't a lot of shrinkage yet, there's definitely some, and some break-up of the tumor. I certainly feel like it's working, because I've been able to take my pain pills less frequently, and I just generally feel a lot better, a lot more functional.

Next week my sister and one of my nephews are coming to visit, and we're looking forward to that. And I'm certainly looking forward to being done with the chemo/radiation in a few weeks. But right now, I'm not getting any of the skin irritation side effects I was warned about, in fact with the iron taking care of a lot of the fatigue, I'm not seeing much in the way of the side effects at all. Which is much, much better than where I was a couple weeks ago.