Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The first day at work went well. Lots of people shaking my hand, hugging me, welcoming me back. My desk is decorated with TP and balloons, and a Sago Palm tree. The Radiation Oncologist has recommended I get 17 radiation treatments. The survival rate jumps from 85 to 95%. I didn't want to hear the news, almost devastating. I am researching on the Internet about radiation therapy and it's effects. Luckily, treatments won't begin until after I return from my trip to Disney.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

This is me "Flying High". The picture was taken the last Sunday in April 2006 at Indiana Dunes National Park. Char, her kids Michelle and Kirsi, and I went on a last minute spring break trip overnight Saturday-Sunday. We got to spend three hours basking in the sun, frolicking in the sand before heading back to cold Wisconsin. This was one of the last times I felt normal. I have referred to this moment in the past. This picture captures the feeling. I have talked with Char about going back so I can jump the dunes once again.

Monday, January 29, 2007

I have a large Blood Clot in my right leg. Deep Vein Thrombosis is the technical/medical term. I have been experiencing bad pains in my right calf. It started Thursday/Friday. I thought I pulled a muscle. Over the weekend I tried to stay off my feet, took some pain medication, tried heat and ice packs. Sunday morning I cleared off my car, and the pain was intense. I went to change my pants and noticed my right calf was swollen, much larger than my left calf. I made calls to Ellen, the Oncology clinic, and my insurance. Everyone told me the same thing. Get to the Emergency room immediately. I called my dad, he went with me. I was in the ER for about 4 hours, an ultrasound showed I have a large blood clot in my right leg. I was admitted to the hospital overnight. I couldn't go to work yet. I have to give myself injections of Lovenox twice daily for the next 5 days, take Coumadin once daily, and follow up with my physician. I will be on blood thinners for a while. This is a common occurrance with patients receiving chemotherapy. The fun never ends.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Well, the insurance check arrived in the mail this morning! I can afford to live again. I did some laundry early, ran to the bank, and had lunch with Mom and Dad. I plan on lounging the rest of the day and tomorrow. I'm getting myself ready to get back into the swing of things. Slowly, things are coming back together.

Friday, January 26, 2007

I need to have an MRI done on my left shoulder because the Pet Scan shows a mass. The Doctor can not determine what it is using the scan. He checked out my shoulder and range of motion, which is fine. I am experiencing no pain so he recommended the MRI. It is not related to the Hodgkin's Lymphoma in any way. So, I am still in the grey, not sure what's going on, will follow the Doctor's recommendation. Right now, I'm not too concerned. I had lunch with Mom and Dad, Fish Fry from Jeff's. It was delicious. They were kind enough to borrow me some money to get groceries since I still haven't gotten my insurance check. I'm feeling pretty good, actually was able to stay awake through the day yesterday, the same today. I should be able to get through work with minimal issues. The only problem I forsee is not being able to watch all my TV shows!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Well, I'm all set to begin work on Monday. I stopped in today, turned in my release from the Doctor, sat with my boss, and straightened up my desk a bit. Everybody in my department is eager for me to return. I've been up since 6:00am. I'm trying to see if I can make it through the day without a nap. It's 2:00pm and I am tired. I still haven't gotten my insurance check for the month. I should get it by the 26th, that leaves a day. I really need that check, I race to the mail box every day. It'll be nice to get it, I'll be able to afford to live again! Getting back to work and having a regular income will be such a nice change from what I'm used to now. Tomorrow I have the appointment with the Orthopedic Doctor for my shoulder. It should be interesting. Hopefully, I'll get a massage out of this!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

It was a good day today, I spent some time with my Mom and Dad, I got out of the apartment for a couple of hours. I am ready to get back to work, I find the days too long at times, and I don't feel productive. Keep in mind that I do like lounging, but too much of it can be a bad thing. Lately, I have been viewing my days as empty and endless. I'm ready to start getting back to a normal routine.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I want to take the time to thank everyone for their love and support as I plod through life right now. I am amazed to be standing where I am after six months of grueling chemotherapy. It has taken a toll on my body and my mind, yet, every day, I find myself pushing through. So many of you have been instrumental in getting me going. You all have seen me from my weakest to my worst and remained at my side, when I faltered, when I flourished. This has been a struggle for me, the toughest thing I have encountered. Every day I know I am getting better. Sometimes it's frustrating because I want to be feeling like I did that day at Indiana Dunes, before this began. I was flying high. I'll get back there in time. Thank you all, for caring so much.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The good news: there are no Hodgkins Lymphoma cells located in my body. I have been cleared and will not have to undergo any more chemotherapy. The indifferent news: I have been referred to a Radiologist and a Muscle/Skeletal specialist because two spots (including the original lymph node site) have questionable markings on the scans. I am being sent to them just to make sure that everything is okay. The bad news: I will be returning to work on 1/29/07 after a six month leave. That is going to be a tough one to get used to. I am so out of shape, have daily hot flashes, and tire easily. Facing a full time day is going to be a struggle. I have this week to rest up.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Watching the snow fall. I don't like it at all. I'm supposed to go to Borders with Brian and Ellen later this afternoon and the thought of driving in the snow terrifies me. But to have a good home cooked meal afterwards, I will travel. Unless plans change in the meantime. Yesterday I got out for a while, went over by Mom and Dads for lunch and a game of scrabble. It was a close one, everybody finshed within points of each other. I'm still bogged down by this cold that is hanging on. Otherwise I am doing okay. I didn't sleep too good last night, up for an hour, sleep an hour, up an hour. Hopefully tonight will be a good sleep. Tomorrow I find out the results of the scans.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Been a slow day here. I didn't do too much. Mostly been reading, finished one book, started another. I went for a walk this morning, went three blocks. It was too cold out. Brrrrr. My body isn't protesting anymore, most of the aches have subsided. I am being taken off medication as they run out, I am down to three pills a day, which will be done by the end of next week. I kind of miss the pain patch I wore, it really did alleviate the aches and pains. I think that's why I've been noticing them more the last couple of days. Now that treatment is over, the recovery process is beginning. It seemed like I would never get to this point, yet here I am. Day by day I am getting better. The naps help!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

My body is telling me no more abuse. I feel it in every limb. I am going to rest today, soak in the tub. I don't have anything to do for the next several days and I plan on laying around and just rest up. As bad as that may sound, I feel pretty damn good. I have a sense of what normal feels like.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The scans went well, I'll know the results on Monday. Got to browse the shops at Mayfair, then lunch with Tim and Scott. It was really nice to have lunch with them! I must say the food was delicious. I had the factory meatloaf, mashed potatos, mixed veggies. So much food, I have leftovers. I got the banana cream cheesecake to go, haven't dug into it yet, going to be tonight's snack. I stopped at the clinic for a follow up to yesterday's check up. Blood pressure was 106/70 and my temperature 97.8. Normal readings. Good thing! I was concerned seeing how close I am to the end, don't want things to go haywire now. I am a little tired, but feeling pretty good. Hopefully whatever ailment I may have been developing is not able to take hold. I'm going to lay my head down and rest.
Early mornings are rough. This is going to take some getting used to. Unless I can work at 10:00am each morning! I have the scans today at 7:30am. I am starving, but can not eat until afterwards. By then, I'll be ravenous. I'll definitely be stopping by Starbucks. I am wrestling with a cold, it's trying to settle in and I do not want it to. Fluids, plenty of fluids. Rest too. I won't be able to do that until later today. It's hard when your couch is already calling your name. On the bright side, I do get to have lunch with Tim and Scott at the Cheesecake Factory. Mmmmmmm. Cheesecake.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I get to the clinic, check in, they draw my blood and send me to infusion for my check up. As I was sitting there, I started getting really warm. I noticed I wasn't feeling very well. The nurse stopped by, looked at me and said "Matt, you don't look too good, are you feeling okay?" I muttered I didn't feel well at all. She took my temperature 100.7, my blood pressure 65/50. Yikes. They started an IV on me, saline, administered hydrochortisone, and took more blood samples. My blood pressure was taken again 97/60, and my temperature was 98.3. I was directed to drink plenty of fluids, take tylenol, rest and stop in tomorrow after my scans for another check up. I noticed I am getting congested, probably a cold. I don't want to catch one at this point. Grrrrrr. My platelets have fallen to 54. Very low. I need to get back up to around 100.
I hate when I have late afternoon appointments. It seems like such a waste of a day. I want to lounge all day, not get moving at 2:00pm because of my check up. Afterwards, I am going to have dinner with Mom, Dad, and Mike. I'm looking forward to dinner. Tomorrow I have the CT and Pet scans early in the morning.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Must be the rush of adrenaline. I had to go clean off the Jeep and move it so the manager could plow the parking area. I needed gas, so I decided to drive up to the gas station. The roads are not properly plowed yet, I put the Jeep in 4X4 and had a blast! Slipping and sliding around turns, pushing through snow banks. Awesome! The Jeep's on the street, I'm waiting for the parking lot to be cleared so I can park and settle back onto the couch. My adventure for the day is over.
Good thing I don't have anything to do today, I wouldn't want to do it anyways. Perfect day to hibernate, stretch out on the couch, drift in and out of sleep, and the gameshow network blaring in the background. As perfect as that may be, I still hate winter.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

I've been a non-stop eating machine. Good thing I stocked up on junk food. My favorite snack at the moment is the new "Hot Chocolate" Pop-Tarts. I could devour the entire box. I like the rainbow chip cookies too, the devil squares, dunkin sticks, oreos. I must be feeling better today. I am still worn out, but the aches are fading. I want cheesecake.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

It's been a battle to stay awake the last 24 hours. If I was in an upright position, I could feel my eyes close and my neck begin to sag. I would catch a short 10-15 minute nap then try to stay awake. Went on all afternoon and night. Finally turned the lights out around 11:00pm. I am wide awake now. Going to run up to the store to get milk. I think I'll be hibernating a lot this weekend.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Ever so slowly the aches are creeping in and settling. Today, tomorrow, and the next day are going to be the days I will feel my worst. One last time, that's all I got to get through. I'm doing all right, getting by. Been sleeping on and off throughout the morning. I did manage to get a walk in earlier, hauled out the old microwave. I am going to do some reading and watch some TV in between naps.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Thursday has been a good day all around. I went to lunch with Christine, stopped by Mom and Dad's for a cordless drill, and hung a new string of lights in the kitchen. The intention was to hang coffee mugs. I didn't like the way it was turning out, so I got creative. I really like what I did. I must own power tools!!! I think I am obsessed. I have been noticing that my strength has been waning throughout the day. I am tired now. So the last spiral begins. I shall push through. This is nothing. Plus I get to nap! The hiccups have gone, haven't noticed any apparent aches yet, I'm sure they'll be appearing any moment now.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Off running for the day. Going to the doctor's office for Neulasta. Then I'm going to the bookstore and Starbucks. The hiccup's have returned promptly, so they are going with me!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Treatments are over. WOO HOO!!! Of course the doctor upped the dosage to 75% since my lab results were outstanding, according to Casey. All counts were normal, except platelets, which were up over 100 this time. Dad went with me today, it was nice having him there. As the last 10ml of poison were running through my veins, I sighed, and said "I'm all done". The nurse came to remove the IV and said "you're done!", which I replied "I'm done, done". I only have two check ups and the CT and Pet Scans left to go. Oh yeah, and a Neulasta shot for tomorrow. I had lunch with Mom and Dad afterwards. Good food! Chicken cordon bleu, peas and carrots, buttered noodles, creamed cucumbers. Time for me to lay my head down, the couch is calling me.
I'm anxious, excited, nervous, apprehensive. Didn't get much sleep last night, the mind racing.

Monday, January 08, 2007

I sat for a good two and a half hours at the social security office this morning applying for disability benefits. Under the general terms, I am ineligible. Since the insurance company requested I apply, I did anyways. Saturday night I went out with Jody to Potowatomi. I did good, more than doubled my money within 10 minutes of playing on the slots. I stopped playing after that. Stayed just over three hours. It was a late night. I enjoyed it! Sunday I slept in most of the morning. I went over to my Mom and Dad's in the afternoon. Pat and Toni were there, since they are in town for a funeral, plus Tim and Julia were there. I got the coolest Kellogg's/Disney toys from Toni. One of them is destined to be a collector's item since only 1000 were produced but never marketed, and I own the entire set! It was nice seeing every one, stayed and watched a movie, then had dinner before coming home for the night and curling up on the couch. Tonight I am going to Mom and Dad's again to have dinner with them and Michael. I need a good home cooked meal! Tomorrow is my 12th and final chemotherapy treatment. As much as I dread it, I am thrilled to be at the end of it. FINALLY.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Christmas decorations have been taken down and put into storage. I went for my daily walk. I'm doing all right. The spasms have faded through the day Friday. All test results came back normal. I must have aggrevated some muscles somewhere. Going to do some cleaning and vacuuming and lounge this afternoon. I'm starting to feel in control of me again. That's a good thing.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Just got back from a walk around the block. I need to start rebuilding my strength and stamina. I am going to go for a daily walk to start out. One block, then two, as my strength builds. I have walked for the last three days. I should have done this all along. I have a 10:30am appointment at the clinic. They are going to run some blood work to check phosphorous, calcium, electrolyte, and other levels that may be a cause to the muscle spasms. I have been using a heat massager on my back, shoulders, and arms, but the spasm remains. It's so bizarre. I wonder if I should go to the chiropracter and have an adjustment done. Hmmm . . . .

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Last evening turned out to be my worst moment since this process began. I had a complete mental and emotional breakdown. Luckily my brother Tim called in the middle of my hysteria. He patiently listened through my ramblings. I have had a muscle spasm in my left bicep since Tuesday night. It is continuous. I have tried heat, massage, tub soaking, pain relievers. Nothing helps. The spasms keep me awake, and the moments I do fall asleep, a spasm jolts me awake. I have called the clinic to see what I can do. Today I am calm, actually feel pretty good, still have the spasms. It can be so maddening, frustrating, annoying sometime.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Slept horribly, tossed and turned all night, finally fell asleep around 5:00am. I am up because the phone rang, damn solicitors. I am going to unplug. I haven't been feeling all that well the last few days, mostly worn out, slightly achy. Late New Year's Day around 10:00pm I went driving about the neighborhood, looking at decorations. It made me feel better, it made me feel sad. Yesterday, I had my check up. Everything is fine, platelets low but holding. I walked four flights of stairs to see if I could do it. I just barely made it up the last flight. I am a wreck physically. All this is running through my head, while facing one more treatment. No wonder I didn't get any sleep. Thankfully America's Next Top Model Marathon is running on VH1. I have now seen seasons one, two, and three. God I need a life.

Monday, January 01, 2007

I was up at 12:00am, the new year arrived as expected. I spent the night watching TV and reading. It was a nice quiet evening. Usually on New Year's Day I go down to the lakefront to watch the Polar Bears jump in the lake. Jody called to invite me. As much as I want to go, I am staying home. I am extremely tired and weak today. It is a couch day. I did some dishes and have set up my new talking microwave "Esther". She speaks english and spanish. Having a talking microwave is awesome. Tomorrow I have my weekly check up and I have to go to the Social Security Office. My insurance company has recommended that I apply, I may be eligible for benefits. It's time for a nap.