Sunday, November 20, 2011

Hospitals are fun, and other falacies... Top Ten #1-5

Alright here it is, the last five from our top ten moments at the hospital this week. Looking back on them I wish I'd felt good enough to live blog them because some would have been sheer gold, but no use worrying about it now. I'll try to recount them back to you as close to how I remembered them. If you haven't read the first post of #10-6 you can go here:

5. Down 1 more wire & the constant beeping.
As of now I'm down to just one iv wire. That has been a big improvement over last week when I had breathing tubes, an iv with drugs as well as a sensor that monitored my breathing and pulse via my fingers. The breathing tubes sucked because they were cumbersome, attached to my ribcage, & hard to walk around with (especially if you had to try and rush to the bathroom quickly). The drugs, of course, I didn't mind. They knocked you out quickly and efficiently. You weren't loopy, out of it, or anything. Pain just ceased to exist and you fell asleep. The sensor, however, was the bane of my existence. If your pulse went above 120 or breathing went below 89 (it somehow measured how much oxygen my body used through my finger...) then it would start beeping loudly. It did this A LOT!!!!!! The entire issue with how this works is what I dont understand. When you've had surgery on your lungs there are 3 things that are known. a)you can't move your arms very well b)you have limited breathing capabilities c)you are in pain quite frequently. With those things known, why would you design a sensor that limits your ability to push the button that gives you pain medication. You had to reach over and push a button on its panel to restart it and then you had to get your pulse and breathing to appropriate levels before it would dispense medication. I can't tell you how many nights I was peacefully asleep, but didn't breathe properly at some point so it woke me up beeeping. Of course I jumped up trying to shut it off, which caused immediate pain, yet in the dark, I couldnt get the buttons pushed to make it all stop. once you got it done, you'd end up lying in the bed, shrt of breath, in pain... even though you'd just been peacefully asleep. I HATED thhis machine. like hated it this much:

4. My room door will not shut all the way on its own. You have to pull it all the way until you hear a click. Besides my nurses, no one understands this. It isn't the worst thing that could happen, but inevitably old people wander the halls. One thing I've learned this week about old people in hospitals is that in general they have a fucking staring problem...

3. What would happen if this thing had wheels?

This is apparently an alternative to having a bedpan and actually making it into the bathroom. I also assume that if you are claustrophobi anddon't enjoy going #2 in small spaces such as hospital bathrooms, then this gives you the freedom to stink up the entire room you're staying in and require someone to clean up after you as well. My first thought when I saw this was, What if it had wheels? Don't think that I wouldn't have went out into the hallwaysand wheeled up next to people who thought I probably had nothing on under my gown. I may or may not have also grunted and sounded like one should when using thechair properly. It might be doubtful that I'd actually ever do that, but what I wouldn't give to see some old dude rolling down the hallway without a care.

2. One of the first nights in the hospital, I was able to get up and help myself to the bathroom, but it took me quite awhile to gather up all my wires, collectors, sensors, etc. It hadn't really been an issue so far, but as they pump more and more fluids into your IV, you end up getting out of bed 2 or 3 times a night to pee. It was on one of those occasions that I had to go to the bathroom that I didn't quite fully wake up from my dream first. For whatever reason, I was dreaming that I was Indiana Jones and the Nazi's had sequestered me in the hospital for something. I know I was watching tv (in the dream) and they were torturing people on it. It was at that point that reality and dreaming collided to make me one hilarious person and probably scare the shit out of my mom who had been staying in the hospital with me. I remember her asking me what was going on and my reply was that I needed to get these things off of me because I was about to pee my pants... I was pulling at the leads, wires, and tubes and luckily, I didn't rip any of them out. Mom jumped up and helped me to get free and make it to the bathroom before I peed my pants. No one wants to pee their pants as an adult, especially Indiana Jones...

1.My lasting memory from this whole ordeal may not seem like much to you guys, but to Susan and I, it was phenomenal. There was an older lady in the room next to us and her husband was staying with her. At some point he desperately needed to do one of two things: 1) shit 2) track down her doctor/nurse and ask for something. I don't know which it was, but it looked like the first. Dude was power-walking the shit out of it and all the while he had his cheeks clenched together like he had the secret to cold-fusion hidden up in there. Ultimately it wouldn't have mattered because luckily he was wearing brown polyester slacks...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Hospitals are fun, and other falacies... Top Ten #10-6

So I've been in the hospital since Tuesday. It hasn't been that bad, but overall it has done little to boost my desire to have an extended stay in one again. Let's start with what has happened this week. On Tuesday I had my surgery, the plan was to go in and wedge out a couple sections of my right lung as well as take out the lymph node that was in between my lungs. Good news across the board there, You know from the last post that there was a concern that it would either be a teratoma or dead, necrotic tissue and it was ALL NECROTIC tissue!!!! The actually left the lymph node alone and didn't extract one spot because of its placement in my lung (it was in the middle, meaning losing more good lung tissue to extract dead tissue that will eventually go away on its own). This also means that because my left lung and lymph nodes that were likely involved in the 2nd surgery are of the same prognosis that I won't have to have the 2nd surgery!!!!!!!!! So for all intents and purposes, my cancer treatment is over!!!!!! I'll still have to recover from this surgery, but from here on out it will just be periodic scans every 3 months to make sure I'm still where I need to be at. So that was awesome news! Unfortunately, I've been in some pain, as one would expect a lung surgery patient to be, so I haven't been entirely up to blogging until today. There's also been far less going on than I expected so I don't necessarily have a live blog for you or any really funny diatribes about my stay. What I thought I'd do is to live blog, but that isn't feasible so why don't we just list the top 10 observations made by Susan and myself about this week.

10. Itching like a crackhead.

This what my skin has felt like this past week. It started when I had to get my sponge bath and I'm pretty sure the student nurses did it wrong. They didn't pre-apply any water instead just starting out wet, soapy towels and then half washing those off with barely wet towels. Basically they got the soap just wet enough to coat/liquid enough for it to adhere to my body and then they left it on. So for 2 days after this I had the dry skin of an iguana. The next couple of days I ended up wandering around on my walks looking like a paler version of Tyrone Biggums...

9. So in the above I mentioned my walks. If you've ever had an extended stay, then you know that they like for you to make sure that you get up and move around on a daily basis. As Suz has accompanied me on many walks we often talk about the people walking by us. After noticing, that most of the time, wearing scrubs makes you look like you just took a dump in your pants, Suz would always say, "Dumps like a truck..." as they passed. It was our little inside joke and it was funny until it got to the point where, if I had taken enough pain meds to make me silly, Susan would say the line and then all were subjected to me walking around in a hospital gown singing the Thong Song. I'm not sure what's more sad, that I did this repeatedly or that I knew way more of the song than I thought...

8. Hospital Food. Bleh. I've never seen great examples of it and this place has done it best to keep confirming what we already knew. They apparently don't care if you eat while you are here. Among some of the tops this week, we had a pork chop that looked half-regurgitated and thus they decided to top it with mac and cheese. Only they forgot to make it without cheese. So we open up the tray and its a shitty porkchop with a scoop of congealed macaroni on top?!?!?!?!
The other were the various jello concoctions they included in every meal. the 1st day I had lemon jello? I dont think even knew it existed and given the appearance, certainly had no desire to try it. The other days were mostly the perfect squares of jello with what appeared to be fruit in them. With what it looked like they spent on their hospital food budget in total, I somehow doubted that it had real peaches mixed in with the Jello. So, since we've eliminated that option, WTF was in that Jello?

7. How's you pain? Oh I'd say its bad, possibly just shy of Gene Simmons...

This was the observation that my buddy Burhan made. This line of smiley faces is what they use to determine your pain level. Its left to right, 1-10 with 10 being the worst possible scenario. A lot of the faces look funny and/or awkward. 4 & 6 look a little bit constipated. Which one can only assume that being constipated does leave you in some mild - moderate discomfort, so maybe there's a correlation there. Where it gets funny is around #8, Burhan noticed that they start adding mascara at that point. I assume this is possibly because eye makeup is painful??? I mean if you're a lab rabbit which is having it tested on you? then, yes it is likely painful...
What Burhan suggested was that the 2 longest tenured members of K.I.S.S., Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons were represented here. It makes complete sense. 8 is very severe pain and would give most of us the pouty look you always see on Paul's face as well as the inability to move most of your face, the latter coincides with the massive amounts of plastic surgery that Paul has had, rendering his face immovable. The trouble is that when I tell the nurses that my pain is about an 8, they may actually hear or think that I want to rock and roll all night, party every day.
10 is Gene Simmons. If you look closely the strain on the sign's face resembles the face paint scheme used by Simmons. So worst possible pain = Gene Simmons. Worst possible pain = odd reality tv show about your ego, making yourself a brand, and generally creeping me out. He married Shannon Tweed though, so I don't see how the queen of late night Skinemax being your wife = worst possible pain.

6. My mom took off from work to come stay with me in the hospital this week, which I am very thankful for. If you know or have met my mom, it's easy to see that she is a very easy going, sweet person, that doesn't get bent out of shape over much. Unless your name is Roxy and you are a student nurse... The hospital has no nursing aide's in the section we're in, so they instead have student nurses come in and do hands on learning as well as help out the nurses who always seem to be running at full speed. We had multiple SN's, but our best one was named Roxy. If Roxy were a song she would be this one...

She lingered. Always. Awkwardly & Forever. Since she was a student nurse in the first place, she had limited abilities. They mostly came in and checked your vital signs and handled things like making patients more comfortable/cleaning the rooms (you know, changing sheets, helping with any messes made, etc.). She made odd comments, obvious comments...we were always in an awkward state when she walked into the room. Plus she generally had no clue what she was doing. Therefore, my mom didn't care for Roxy. It got to the point where Mom left the room a couple of times as she came in to avoid the inevitable weirdness approaching.
The one thing she did with a Tourette's-like ferocity was to tell me to use my spirometer...

That's one of these:

Its known as an incentive spirometer. I have no clue what the incentive for using it was, but you'd have thought it was eternal salvation the way Roxy was promoting it. We actually think that it was the only word she'd managed to get good at saying and thus, felt more important when she used a technical term. So if you're on staff at Centennial Medical Center and somehow end up reading this. If you were mad because I didn't use my spirometer enough, blame Roxy. I don't like being told what to do repeatedly. Also, teach her some more words and how/when to exit a room and conversation properly. These are all things that will make the world better.

So, that's my top 10, with posts 10-6 on this one. I decided to split them up into 2 because of the size. so you can look for then next one containing #1-5 coming after this one in a bit.

Monday, November 14, 2011

It's odd that I've put off this blog post since last Thursday. I guess it is more that I can't figure out how to truly wrap my head around what is about to happen. It always seems when you are sick or have been sick that the beauty of denial can be your best friend and your worst enemy at the same time. It allows you to not freak out, which is usually good, but at the same time it causes you to not share major news with anyone. You know, stuff like when you are having surgery on your lungs at 8:30am tomorrow...

It's what I've spent the last month dreading, but knowing almost to certainty that it would happen. As you most likely know, all of my tumor markers are normal, the lesions on my lungs have shrank to almost nothing, and in general I feel better than I have in at least a year. As good as all of that is, when you had cancer and it metastasizes there are equal chances it stays around in 1 of 3 forms: 1) active cancer 2)teratomas or 3)necrotic tissue. Since my blood work shows normal markers we can eliminate the first possibility. Which is awesome. If there was a way to know what the lesions were without surgery then they would likely just observe them and make sure there was no growth. There is no way to know and while necrotic tissue usually dissipates on its own, the teratoma is the concerning option and reason for surgery. These are the tumors that can start to grow on their own and while not cancerous, they are the ones you hear where people have huge growths that contain hair, nails, teeth, etc. No one needs something like that in their lungs. So, the plan is to take out what is in my right lung tomorrow as well as the enlarged lymph nodes in my chest. All of this, as scary as it is to me, has always been an option and is fairly common practice in cases like mine. After about 5 weeks off they'll do my left lung, which has considerably less trouble spots, and also do the lymph nodes in my stomach area.

Is this all serious? hell yes. Am I freaked out? more than I care to admit. As everyone who knows has told me so far, "Everything will be fine!" I'm sure it will, but if you have a friend or loved one who is about to have some very vital organs cut into, don't tell them that. It downplays the true seriousness of it all. While it is easy for all of you to consider the percentage where something bad happens as minimal and unlikely, my mind despite its usual glass-half-fullness is running into roughly DEFCON 2-3 range. I know it is something I can't control and that I shouldn't be this worried, but I cannot help it.

The good news for all of us is that I'll be in the hospital for 5 days and thus will have ample time to come up with entertaining & funny things for all of us. the good thing is that the rooms are private, but the bad things is that the rooms are private. I had hopes of an annoying roommate with which i could talk about all week. Maybe it will be a nurse or something that comes to the rescue and provides me with the necessary material. we shall see.

Now to end on some good news. We sold all of the bracelets and thus have raised about $900 for the local charity which is awesome. So maybe tomorrow you should all wear your "I Rock One" bracelets. Susan is also checking into something at work where Dell matches $ for $ on any employee donating to charity, so we could possibly have almost $2k to donate. Which would be awesome. So thanks for helping out and thanks for being so supportive over this last half of 2011.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

We've found a way to live blog again!!!!

There's jack shit on TV except for the CMA awards. Susan and I have been sitting here making fun and commenting on everything that has happened. We just had a eureka moment that it should all be written down in live blog form. I'm getting a late start so let's give you a quick rundown of what we've already came to agreement on or what Susan came up with first.

  1. Reba does not age
  2. The Band Perry = The Duran Duran of country music
  3. Zac Brown Band doesn't suck
  4. Hank Wiliams Jr. prove that all country music artists & fans are Republicans
  5. Someone was mean to Taylor Swift
  6. Lionel Fucking Richie just came on the CMA's. There isn't anything else to really say about that. Susan says its proof that you can turn anything into a fucking country song. I've got $20 and a song called Dancing on the Ceiling that says she's wrong.
  7. Darius Rucker just joined him on stage. Somewhere in the south Charley Pride just shit his pants. Also, if they don't do at least one Hootie song, I'm gonna be pissed.
  8. Fuck me. I just lost $20
  9. Judging by all of the entertainers on stage tonight. Somewhere backstage, there's a crazy person holding the next performer at bedazzler point...
  10. Commercial Break: we just saw a commercial for the new Alvin & The Chipmunks, Chipwrecked movie. There is no humorous comment that can outdo the fact that we are all aware someone spent at least $1 million on this, probably more...
  11. Judging by the stage setup for The Band Perry, Suz's assumption of them being Nashville's version of Duran Duran is correct. Although it looks more like Duran Duran hooked up with Old Crow Medicine Show. There's a lady in the corner playing an old time phonograph... I was unaware this qualified as an instrument.
  12. They just showed Zac Brown in the audience. He was wearing a black leather vest with Jack Daniels patches and is drinking out of a red solo cup. I imagine he's a cool dude.
  13. Matt Nathanson is singing a duet on the CMA's??? If you know who he is, then you fully understand the oddity of him singing a duet with Sugarland.
  14. The problem with live blogging something like CMA awards is that you have to watch the CMA awards...
  15. Blake Shelton is tall.
  16. Martina McBride always sings these serious songs. She also just got a standing ovation, which would be impressive if it wasn't the 17th time they've done it tonight...
  17. This whole Glenn Campbell tribute seems genuine, but weird. Not in a bad way, just in a, "I dont understand whats happening right now" kind of way. Soooo, I'm done with live blogging this stuff.
Hope you all enjoyed it.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Where to go from here

I'll likely post more this week after we meet with the surgical oncologist on Thursday, but I wanted to be sure that I post at least once per week. I've been thinking quite a bit about the direction of my writing (especially since so many of you have asked me to keep this going) and how it all fits into my life after chemo and cancer. Over the last little bit, I've spent some time reflecting on some of my posts and remembering the days in chemo when they happened. So, I think that's the direction we'll head with this thing (I say we because you guys make me want to write more. The fact that people get a kick out of my thoughts and observations is somewhat addictive)...

Unfortunately, live blogging will definitely not happen as often because of the fact that I won't be sitting in a room with strangers for hours on end. That isn't to say that there won't be times when the chance arises (we'll be flying to Texas for Christmas & I'm already anticipating the travel that day will provide an awesome live blog), but in general they'll be less. Instead, I've decided that the best course is to make note of small conversations, interactions, etc. that I have on a daily basis and recant them to you all while possibly involving a running commentary as to how odd, funny, sad, etc. the event struck me as.

For example, as you may or may not know, I've started working at Macy's through the holiday season as a way to get back into real life and have some sort of a normal existence. There are two things about people in a retail environment that I've forgotten about. They're mean and stupid. On occasion they prefer to double dip and be both. Actually, that isn't true. On occasion they exhibit only one of these traits, the majority of the time, they show you that being an asshole doesn't require intelligence and vice versa... During a sale last week, you could spend $100 on men's clothing and save 25% off your purchase. Not a bad deal at all, as many customers took advantage of it, but we had one lad that wanted to take full advantage of it. Advantage isn't actually the correct term; she wanted to treat our discount like The Sisters treated Andy at Shawshank before he turned into H&R Block for the guards. Since she was buying close to $300 worth of stuff, she asked repeatedly that we separate them into thirds so that she could get her 25% on each $100 as well as that would save her more money... I'll let you ponder that scenario for a minute. I swear, all of the employees standing near enough to hear it had to think for a second because it sounded so stupid that we thought maybe she had figured out a way to cheat the system. Turns out she hadn't. I imagine she had to cheat her way through basic math though, as saving 25% on $100, 3 times separately doesn't mean you save 75% on $300. It means you still saved 25%, but you wasted everyone's time, so that you could prove your stupidity.

It makes me wish life were like a hockey game. In hockey, if you do something stupid like hook another player with your stick, you're penalized for 2:00 and the other team goes on a power play where they have 1 less person to play against. Why can't life be like that? You waste someone's time, cut someone off driving, or pull basically any other stunt that involves you preferring being an idiot over considering your surroundings, and you get put in the penalty box. I'm not sure what the times would translate to, nor do I care if it happens to be 2 hours or 2 days, I just want to know that at any point I'm skating on life's version of a power play because you can't park your Prius in a fucking parking spot correctly. It's a Toyota, their turning radii (yeah that's right. radii. its plural as well as badass. we could call the plural of prius as prii, but I prefer to jut call them douchenozzles who paid $9,000 more for a car to save fuel that will not add up to that amount over the time they own it) is unbelievable. Seriously, have you ever owned one? I can begin to think how far up your nose, your finger has to be for you to eff up parking in a straight manner. It isn't difficult, and you aren't special. Don't eff it up, but if you do fix it, because until I can get a power play or make it legal to hit you as if checking you into the boards, I shouldn't have to drive up another level in the garage because you huffed too much airplane glue as a kid...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

News of the day...

You've noticed as of late (or maybe you haven't) that my posting has all but ceased to exist. There wasn't a reason for the lack of writing really, I just haven't felt like it. Honestly, since chemo has finished it's been a weird month. The best part of chemo was that it gave me a schedule, in a time when I didn't really have much else on my plate besides beating cancer. Once that ended, I found myself with nothing much to do. With not knowing whether I'd have surgery or not, I couldn't really go out a get a job right away, school was mid semester, it was almost like i was in purgatory. Dangling between the lives of beating cancer and what everyone else normally does.

The good news is that after today I know what is happening. I had my ct scan yesterday, and the results were exactly what was expected. My oncologist figured that, due to their original size, I'd have some residual tissue left over from the tumors in my lungs. My blood work shows no growth markers, so in essence there is no cancer, but there is a possibility that it could start growing again. The thing that I find more concerning is that they have the ability to turn into a teratoma. (In case you don't wanna click on the link, they're basically tumors that can contain things such as teeth, hair, bones, etc. which in your lungs would be a bad thing) The decision is that we need to get those out of there. Next week I'll meet with a surgical oncologist (yeah, I didn't know they existed either...) and we'll discuss what the surgery deal is. I know that it isn't as invasive as one would think, but to be real honest, when you're on blood thinners because of a blood clot and someone wants to go rooting around in your lungs, it's hard to not be freaked out. I think that's what has led me to be so quiet about things this past month. I have no reason to be as scared as I am. Given what medical procedures I've encountered this year, I should be fine and in time I may be, but in less than 2 weeks, I'll have had the surgery and then be able to be declared cancer free. No More Technicalities. I'll keep you guys updated more as the next few weeks go by and I promised myself I'd write at least one humorous post per week. My people watching has been nowhere near as prevalent a priority as it should be... I'll make sure I fix that!