Sunday, June 14, 2009

Hello ... anybody still out there?!?

Sorry for such a long time since my last post. With the end of the school year, the passing of my grandmother, and all of the issues with my health I just haven't been able to sit down and write.

I guess the first item I need to update is my current treatment.

A couple weeks ago I began my radiation therapy. So now every weekday I am driving from Pendleton to Kenniwick WA. For those of you not fully geographical inclined , Kenniwick is about 65 miles north of Pendleton. The first few days the trip was actually a nice drive. Now it is a pretty tough chore. There is not much too look at and the radiation therapy is starting to get the better of me.

Radiation therapy is ... ... ... well ... ... I don't mean to sound alarmist ... but ... way scarier than chemo. I go into a room with a door one foot thick. Lay on a table surrounded by the plaster molds of other cancer patients.

The molds???

Well let me try to explain. To keep the patient in the same position everyday they make a mold of the persons' body where they are receiving treatment. I have a mold of my torso since my tumors are in my chest, but people with head and neck cancer have molds made of their necks and heads. So along the walls of the radiation room are all of these busts of the different cancer patients. The busts are not just some simple mold. They really show most of the facial features of the patients. None of them look happy. They all just sit on these shelves staring out into space. It's really creepy.

Another item that I do not like is that I feel like a rotisserie chicken. As I lay on the table I am radiated with large doses of x-rays. Yep, the same kind of radiation that we all get a little of everyday from the sun. But my dose is similar to standing out in the sun for twelve hours. How long does it take you ask. The entire radiation takes less than a minute. I receive 26 second of radiation directed through the front of my chest and 22 seconds of radiation through my back. I know because I have counted. The freaky part is if you were to put your hand on my chest after treatment, like Emma Lee has, your hand would be warm. Basically they are baking me with a lot more than a little light bulb like in an easy bake oven.

Also unlike chemo that goes in cycles, radiation therapy just gets harder to deal with everyday. There is no getting a little better before you get another treatment. With radiation every day gets harder and harder than the last until you are finished. So I worry quite a bit because I am already having problems with side effects and I am only one third of the way done. The fatigue with radiation is at least twice as bad as it was with chemo and because my therapy is directed at my chest my esophagus is getting pretty torn up, my lungs burn, and my skin is getting fried.

If you can also imagine I have been doing much of the driving so far. I have driven as much as I can because I know that very soon I will not be able to do it. It is such a long way and I am so tired and I do not want to get in a car accident because I drifted off at the wheel. It is also no short trip. Getting from here to there is over 130 miles a day. It is very exhausting and expensive. Em has been there to help keep me on the road and to get all of my appointment in line. I am hoping that I might be able to get some people to drive me over and back. I am getting pretty tired and want to be safe on the road.

On another note I had an accident at my house. I fell off a retaining wall and got a few good scratches, bruises, and one really good gash behind my knee. I am on antibiotics because it was not wanting to heal up and the doctor was worrying a bit about a serious infection. So visualize this ... me hunched over from fatigue, walking with a limp, and with a shinny head (cuz my hair is just now growing back). If a picture of Quasimodo is what you imagined your not far off, all I need is a bell tower.

I want to give an update on Emma Lee as well. This has been really hard on her. Now since January she has been the main one to keep everything together. She is moving into a new role with the Department of Agriculture. She is going to be moving into farm records. This is a job she is going to do great at but is a tremendous amount to learn and has a lot of responsibility. She isn't sleeping too well. I guess that one should expect that lack of sleep would be a natural consequence of all of our stress but it certainly makes things tougher. What she really needs is a break. I see ads on the TV for "Merry Maids" but there isn't anything like that in Pendleton.

It was very nice that Em's parents took the kids for the weekend to let Em catch up on house hold chores a bit. But what she really need was some rest. This family needs to find a way to get a vacation. Another thing that is coming up is that on August 14th Emma Lee and I will have been married for ten years. We have been dating for almost seventeen years but this is a major milestone anniversary. I really want it to be great. I hope we can find a way to celebrate it in style.

I hope that if you get a free minute that you drop me a message. Email, phone, carrier pigeon, or even snail mail would be great. This family is pretty down and could really use some messages from our friends.

Thanks for everything again and I hope to see you soon.

PS Youth and Government Crew. You should really have a reunion!!!