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This Dog was a Jerk

September 3, 2017 | Dogs, Life

But he was our jerk. Our cute, loving, man-eating jerk.

He didn’t like other people. He didn’t get along with other dogs. He had food aggression. He and his brother constantly fought. He wouldn’t keep on up walks, he kept his own pace, stopping to sniff and pee on everything. He wouldn’t cuddle any more in his old age, just sit across the room from us, wherever we were. He would tear this house apart, from end to end, in the pursuit of a fly. I’m pretty sure his life long dream was to eat a skateboarder.

He even bit the neighbor.

But he loved his food. Treats were like gold.

Any toy with a squeaker a conquest to silence that squeal from within. We still have a bin full the remains of his conquests. We’d buy him the strongest toys we could find and he’d have the squeaker out before we knew it. Even now, after he’s gone, I’m waiting to clean up the remains of his last toy so that I can take it in a bit longer. Relish the high pitched screams of the poor lobster who was sacrificed for the happiness of this pooch.

He was adorable. Our typical routine was to feed him and then finish up making our dinner. After he would finish his dinner he’d save his cookie so that he could eat it while we ate.

Protecting our house against the mailman was his self anointed duty. He knew what time of day it was. He’d growl as the mailman walked up. Watching dutifully through the window. He knew that he could also watch the mailman deliver next door. He’d watch carefully, constantly growling to fend off the evil package delivery. He’d also calmly wait for the return trip, on the far side of the street, to growl once more. Just to be sure. He always won that fight. The mailman would try, but every day be driven back away.

We knew this day was coming. Bear had been slowing down for a while. He was slow to stand up. He was always running hot. Drinking a lot. Sometimes his back legs couldn’t keep up with the rest of him. We knew it was getting bad when he’d refuse walks. But his personality never seemed to waver. He was our Bear.

Finally yesterday he had trouble getting up in the morning. Later in the day he just stopped, gave us a really sad look, and laid down. We knew it was time. We took him to the vet to find out that the immediate problem was a fluid build-up around his heart. Making it hard to get the necessary blood around his system. His breathing was now labored. He was not happy. He didn’t much like to cuddle but he’d been lying down, resting his head on my wife’s lap. A normally feisty dog was accepting of the doctors being in the room and taking him away to do tests.

We came home alone.

I think Bear was happy to be an only dog after his brother died. They constantly fought. Bear’s obsession with toys and food meant he was always hoarding. His brother would always be growling at him while my wife and I were around because he wanted to be the one between us. I want to think that he and his brother are back together now. Having fun. Hunting squirrels and pigeons.

But they’re probably fighting with each other over something…

I’m gonna miss that little shit. ❤️

Chemo by the numbers

March 29, 2017 | Cancer

I was going over my time spent dealing with the chemo and was able to figure out some interesting numbers. Okay, maybe interesting to just me, but here goes:

  • 117 days from beginning chemo ’till returning to work.
  • 20 days of chemo treatments.
  • 3 days spent overnight in the hospital.
  • 2 visits to the hospital ER.
  • More than 100 hours spent in the oncology ward.
  • More than 70 liters of fluid pumped in to my body.
  • More than 50 pokes with a needle.
  • More than 15 vomit sessions.
  • More than 12 days spent sleeping all day.
  • More than 8 doses of morphine.
  • Up to 5 days between significant meals.
  • Up to 5 days between poops. But also…
  • 2 episodes of shitting my pants.

The most important number of all, though, is the 2808 hours of unconditional love from the wife.

Cystoscopy & Stent Removal

February 23, 2017 | Cancer

Its been a long time since I’ve written anything here. The short of it is that my left kidney is damaged and the ureter (the tube that drains urine from the kidney to the bladder) collapsed. That meant that my kidney backed up and suffered more damage. Its now processing at about 4% effectiveness. Kidneys are considered a lost cause when they reach 10% effectiveness.

I’ve been living with some form of drainage tube for a significant portion of the last year. First a drain to siphon fluid buildup after my RPLND, then a stent to open up the damaged ureter to help my kidney recover.

If you’re not familiar with a ureteral stent, then pray this is your only association with it. Picture a tube, pigtails on both ends, one end in your kidney, the other in your bladder. Now imagine it rubbing on your bladder. All day. No matter how you sit, walk, or lie. The techs who put it in will tell you that you’ll not feel it at all, that everything will be normal.

They lie.

There’s not a single part of your day where you don’t notice it. My kidney would constantly hurt. And where it rubs in the bladder would hit a nerve that would send pain from my prostate to the tip of my penis. Somehow in all of that it would make my butthole feel hot. I’d pee sitting down so that I could double over and wince and not worry about having to hit a target. And also so that others wouldn’t see my cry in the bathroom.

Yesterday the stent was removed and that was… awful.

No anesthesia, just a washing of iodine, a bit of numbing gel and lube before a probe is pushed up the urethra. Initially it is uncomfortable but tolerable. Then it had to pass the prostate. And the prostate didn’t want to let it by without a fight. The feeling of it popping in to my bladder was jarring.

I got to watch all this on the TV. I could equate bumps, scrapes and prods inside my body to what I was seeing on the monitor.

Fluid was pumped in to my bladder to inflate it. The doctor poked around a bit, she looked like she’s playing a video game. She found the end of the stent and then I saw it. A claw started to protrude in to view. It’s kinda horrifying to watch this claw open and close inside my bladder. All I could think of was that claw grabbing the inside of my bladder and how painful it would be. You could have bounced a quarter off of me I was so tense.

After a few tries the doc got a hold of the end of the stent. Then I’m told to hold on. The doc pulled and retracted everything out.

But the stent slipped. We got to do it again.

It doesn’t get easier or less comfortable the 2nd time. This time though everything came out in one swift motion.

But I’m not done. My bladder was full, I was covered in iodine, and all I wanted to do, more than anything else in the world, was pee. But the doctor wanted at this point to tell me everything I should do to recover and blah blah blah…

I finally got to a bathroom. I’ve got wet towels to clean up with and a towel to dry off with. But I had to pee.

And I was terrified to pee.

I’ve had things jammed up my urethra before. You end up with small abrasions on the inside and the urine burns… it burns so much. But I had to pee. But the Iodine was slippery… and I was soaked in it around my waist. So I couldn’t just sit and pee. I had to concentrate on not falling off the throne. Fortunately I was able to suppress any vocalization of pain when I finally peed. Though I’m sure they’re used to hearing weird sounds coming from the bathroom.

I finally got that over with and start wiping up. Everything is cleaning up nicely. But lo and behold I forgot to lock the bathroom door! So I also got a little face to face time with a nurse as she blundered in on me washing my junk.

I’m home now. I watched How I Met Your Mother episodes all afternoon and sat as still as I could on the couch. Peeing still hurts. Oddly enough, so does pooping, but I think that’s ‘cause my prostate is unhappy as well. As is my kidney. They’ll all probably hurt through tomorrow. I don’t go back to work ‘till Monday, so there’s that.

All in all I give the experience a big thumbs down.

I hope now that this is the last I have to worry about the kidney. If the ureter stays open I’ll be fine. The kidney can simply process what it can and we’ll all live happily ever after. If it collapses again we’ll need to keep an eye on it over the years.

The best part is, though, that I immediately feel more human. No more constant pressure on the inside of my bladder. I feel like I can rejoin the world again. And that’s precisely what I plan to do.

Word of the day: Ouch.

November 25, 2015 | Cancer

Apologies up front, this is a long update.

I was recovering well from the RPLND. I was back to putting in time at work, albeit from home, but I was starting to feel better and be able to concentrate on something else to take my mind off of the recovery.

That ended last Thursday (Nov. 19) when uncontrollable pain sent me to the ER. The ER tech tries twice to give me an IV line before relinquishing the task to his buddy. The IV that “worked” hurts. Some morphine and a CT scan later I was feeling better and being told about fluid build up in my surgery sites along the front of my stomach and in my back. The fluid build up in my back, in the Retroperitoneal area where they removed my tumors, where the ones causing pain as they pushed on blood vessels, nerve centers, and my surgical site. I was told that this was called a Seroma and that it would get re-absorbed by the body.

I was sent home and told to control the pain with medication. This is where I just lost about 5 days of my life. I spent the following days in bed. Getting up to pee and take more drugs. All the while trying to keep the wife from worrying that I was gonna over medicate and cause damage. I was more concerned with addiction than anything else. Its a damn nice feeling to take 2 Percocet and lie down…

On Monday I went in for a follow up scan to see how everything was doing. By this time I was experiencing less pain and was back to managing it with just Tylenol. Though not much as the thought of taking more pills right now, now matter what they are, is a little nauseating.

The whole day was a bit of a comedy of errors. First off my surgeon wanted the scan done on Monday but I couldn’t get an appointment anywhere to do it on Monday, so I had to walk-in and hope they could get me in. So the wife and I camped out in the San Leandro radiology department early Monday morning. I fell asleep on the bench until someone came out and handed me a 1000ML bottle of water and told me to drink it all.

About an hour later someone calls me in to the back. I go sloshing back, get changed in to the always popular hospital gown and they give me an IV. Now, my arms are pretty torn up at this point and my normally good veins aren’t presenting any good targets for an IV. The tech struggles a little but gets a line in.

A bit later they finally get me in to the scanning room. I don’t know how long I waited. I might have dozed off. I am REALLY tired. We get the first part of the scan done, the part that doesn’t require giving me the injected contrast fluid. I would have dozed off if there wasn’t a voice telling me to hold my breath once in a while.

We then move on to hooking up my IV and starting the fluid. It felt weird and the tech immediately came running in to the room and stopped the IV. Apparently my IV blew out and they injected about 15CC of the fluid directly under my skin. My left bicep was bulging. I guess protocol in this situation is to call a doctor and log the incident, so I was looked over by a very overly caffeinated doctor who drew all over my arm and ordered the tech around a lot. She deemed me to be OK, told me that my body would absorb the fluid in time and to drink lots of water.

That concluded a new IV was started in my other arm, the arm previously bruised up by the ER nurse a week earlier. The nurse struggles to find a vein but does get one on her first try, though she says that she’s not getting good flow. She goes with it anyway. She’s a bit paranoid from the earlier incident so she stays close and starts the injection of fluid. As she’s fiddling with the machine I feel a warm sensation on my arm. The IV is leaking bloody fluid. The nurse stops the injection, cleans up a bit, but continues with the injection at a lower flow rate. Not wanting to stop she says that this is OK and that she’ll just go slower. I know I’m getting the contrast as I can feel the familiar warming sensation in my butt, like I just shat my pants.

With the injection done we continue with the scan. I just so badly want to go to sleep, but again that voice telling me hold my breath keeps me from my slumber. The nurse comes back in and removes my IV. Since she went in close to the bruises on my arm from the ER there was no way to do it without hurting. And hurt it did. We finally get that done and I stand up to see the table and pillow I was on covered in my blood and the contrast fluid that leaked out.

From there I grab my things, change back to my normal clothes, and go home. The ride home couldn’t have gone any slower, I don’t think… I just wanted to be in bed, curled up with my heating pad and pillow.

Later that day my surgeon follows up and tells me the same thing as the ER doc. Fluid build up, but he calls them Lymphoceles (which seems like its just a more condition specific way of talking about a Seroma). While the fluid in my stomach has subsided some, the fluid in my back hasn’t changed. My surgeon admitted that he’s not sure about how much fluid generally builds up after a surgery as they typically don’t image patients this soon after surgery. Its typically 3-5 weeks out that new scans are done. So we’re kind of sitting in the dark as to wether I’m typical and unlucky, to atypical and still unlucky.

So as we go in to the Thanksgiving holiday I’m still in a bit of pain, but can walk around and take care of myself again. I hope that I feel good enough to go to dinner tomorrow night. At the very least I have my appetite back and look forward to having a normal poop again.

RPLND

November 15, 2015 | Life

It has been a week and a half now since my RPLND surgery and I’m recovering mostly fine, save the bloating.

The surgery took about 6 hours and nothing out of the ordinary was encountered during the surgery. I had an epidural for the surgery (which they almost pushed me off of the operating table putting in) so I was up and walking the next day. The doctor pushed hard to get me on my feet as soon as possible. The effectiveness of the epidural was amazing. I felt great. I could tell that I had a large line of staples running up my stomach but didn’t feel really sore.

I spent a week in the hospital recovering. Long story short on that one is lots of laps around the floor, some diarrhea, no real poop, and lots of bad food. And bloating. Oh, the bloating. I can’t fart.

The epidural came out a few days after the surgery and thankfully I’ve not needed any extra pain meds at all. Which is good, because they’d only add to my constipation.

We got the pathology back. Four teratomas removed. One was baseball sized. Another a little bit smaller at around tennis ball size. Two more taken out but I kept forgetting to ask how big they were. One of the teratomas was encroaching on a blood vessel my left kidney. Fortunately I’m a rare freak who has multiple of these blood vessels running from the kidneys so I’ll only suffer a small loss in kidney capacity because of it.

The bad, or rather ambiguous, news is that two of the teratomas showed presence of low grade Adenocarcinoma. On its own that is bad, but here it was contained within the teratoma, so we’re just gonna keep an eye out over time. Not the “All Clear” I was hoping for.

All in all I’m recovering OK. I’m eating well slowly returning to the land of pooping human beings. Today has been good and I’m hopeful that it’ll just keep getting better.

If the bloating hangs on for much longer its going to start getting really hard. It is already keeping me up at night and when I do sleep I get some wicked weird dreams. Walking helps with the bloating, but I’ve also been cold and it is a little chilly out (I can’t seem to regulate my body temperature at all) so I’ve just been walking around the house to get a little exercise in.

So here’s hoping that we’re done chasing malformed cells for a while. In the mean time the rest of the year is just gonna be:

Gonna try to make the best of the remaining year with the wife and hope that next year is better.