And the thing is, I like my evil like I like my men: evil. You know, straight up, black hat, tied to the train tracks, soon my electro-ray will destroy metropolis BAD.

Buffy ,'Sleeper'

Goodbye and Good Riddance: Hey, at least you didn't get a Peloton. (2019)  

Take stock, reflect, butch, moan, vent. We are all here for it.

dcp - Dec 13, 2019 4:55:41 pm PST #26 of 140
Empathy for Charlie and Algernon.

2019 started out bad, then got worse. At the beginning of the year my lower back started aching. I figured I had strained something. I treated it with stretching, hot showers, heating pads, and ibuprofen, but it didn't get better. By April I was maxing out on ibuprofen daily. I finally saw a doctor about it. During the exam, the doctor noticed that a lymph node above my collarbone was swollen. There followed various scans and tests and a biopsy, which revealed: fractures in L4 and S1, osteosclerosis, many very swollen lymph nodes, and prostate cancer.

Hormone treatment (Bicalutamide [link] followed by Leuprorelin [link] ) was started in May, and seems to be working. The initial PSA (prostate specific antigen) test result was too high by four orders of magnitude, but is now back down to normal. My lower back is still occasionally sore, but not much, and not often, and ibuprofen still works when I need it.

Chemotherapy was planned to start as soon as possible, but there was a hitch. The first step was outpatient surgery to install a central venous catheter and port [link] . That procedure went well (I got to experience Lidocaine & Fenatanyl & Versed!), but two weeks later - just before the first planned chemo. treatment - some redness appeared in the skin around the port. Blood was drawn, then cultured, and the test came back positive for bacteria: methicillin-sensitive Staph. aureus, otherwise known as MSSA. Not MRSA, thank goodness. I was admitted to the hospital for a week of IV antibotics (Cefazolin [link] ) every 8 hours. The hospital stay and treatment were tedious, and boring, and thankfully both uneventful and successful. While in the hospital the catheter and port were removed.

Once I demonstrated three straight days of clean blood culture tests, I was discharged with a PICC line [link] exiting my right bicep so that I could continue the course of Cefazolin (still every 8 hours) at home - self-administered, but with help available if needed through a home infusion service - for another eleven days. Less boring, but still tedious, and thankfully also uneventful and successful.

There were no further complications. Once the antibiotics course was completed I had the first chemo. session and then the PICC line was removed. For the first time in almost a month I didn't have anything stuck into my arm!

The chemo. was dexamethasone [link] followed by docetaxel [link] via conventional IV, six sessions, three weeks apart, finishing just before Thanksgiving.

As expected with chemotherapy there has been nausea, fatigue, and weakness. Both candied ginger and ginger candies have helped with the nausea. The fatigue and weakness came on slowly, only really noticeable in November and the first week of December. It got to where I could only walk about 50 yards before my knees got wobbly and pulse was pounding so hard I had to stop and rest. It seemed very odd to be experiencing that without also being out of breath. The good news is, my strength and stamina have started coming back - I could tell the difference when I did some grocery shopping a few days ago. I've started trying to meet daily steps and stairs goals again.

Over Labor Day weekend, just before the second chemo. treatment, most of my scalp hair fell out. It wasn't gradual, it was a sudden and dramatic shedding event. At least it came out evenly, not in patches. I shaved off what was left and surprised my family (aunts, uncles, cousins, parents) with the new look. That was entertaining. I've been letting it grow back for about two months now, and there haven't been any repeats of the shedding event, but if it is still this thin in January I might decide to shave it all off again. Lately I've (continued...)

dcp - Dec 13, 2019 4:55:41 pm PST #27 of 140
Empathy for Charlie and Algernon.

( continues...) noticed some loss from my eyebrows, but at least my eyelashes are still with me.

Another side effect has been a change in my perception of taste. For about a week after each chemo. treatment my tongue felt like it had been scalded. Most food tasted burnt. Apples and pears became bland, but not grapes or pineapple. Eventually, most flavors came back. Except ham. Ham has lost all flavor. I hope that comes back someday, I miss it.

I was very fortunate that the side effects from the chemotherapy were pretty mild. I was expecting (and fearing) much worse.

I've been very fortunate to have been able to keep working. Sometimes working from home, but mostly the regular routine at the office.

I am very fortunate to have good health insurance through work. So far the bureaucratic processes have operated smoothly for me.

Prognosis is still to be determined. I won't know whether the chemo. did any good until after another round of scans and tests scheduled for the end of December, followed by a consultation with my oncologist in early January. I am determined not to fret until then, and mostly succeeding.

So, good riddance, 2019! Here's to a better 2020!

-t - Dec 13, 2019 5:12:59 pm PST #28 of 140
Why abandon a well tried system just because it doesn’t work?

Oh, wow, dcp. Best wishes and warm thoughts!

Zenkitty - Dec 13, 2019 6:05:12 pm PST #29 of 140
Every now and then, I think I might actually be a little odd.

oh gosh, dcp, that's intense. It sounds like you're coping well; I hope you are! Much health ~ma to you.

P.M. Marc - Dec 13, 2019 7:07:10 pm PST #30 of 140
"Man, i'm covered in pony blood."

Fingers crossed and holy crap.

May ham return to you. That's just unfair.

DavidS - Dec 13, 2019 7:55:22 pm PST #31 of 140
"Look, son, if it's good enough for Shirley Bassey, it's good enough for you."

May ham return to you. That's just unfair.

Ham blessings on you!

That's too much.

Beverly - Dec 13, 2019 11:09:30 pm PST #32 of 140
Days shrink and grow cold, sunlight through leaves is my song. Winter is long.

Wow, dcp, that sounds like the unfun kind of carnival ride, but I'm glad the car know what? I'm tired of this metaphor. I'm glad it's been no worse. And yes, may ham return to you.

Shir - Dec 14, 2019 1:37:02 am PST #33 of 140
"And that's why God Almighty gave us fire insurance and the public defender".

Dear lords, dcp. All the ~ma and good wishes in your direction for a much better 2020.

Theodosia - Dec 14, 2019 4:12:16 am PST #34 of 140
'we all walk this earth feeling we are frauds. The trick is to be grateful and hope the caper doesn't end any time soon"

Here's hoping that 2020 is smooth sailing after your horrendous 2019, dcp!

Laura - Dec 14, 2019 11:31:29 am PST #35 of 140
I didn't know how to respond to the bat-shit crazy. And then I realized I didn't have to. -Victor Infante

Getting Buffista cards is so fun! I will send mine out eventually.

I have 3 so far and it makes me very happy.

Damn, dcp! I am so sorry you have been going through so much. Sending love and ~ma for good reports from the next round of tests. Also, thank you for the card!

I am giving 2019 a couple more weeks to get the good list to catch up or surpass the bad.