Monday, December 19, 2011

We're Back!!!

We're back from the cruise. I'm going to divide this post into 2 portions. The 1st will deal with my health status. The 2nd will deal with a description of the cruise and associated events.

Part 1. My health status.
A few days ago, I was thinking to myself that since I began radiation treatments, I have never felt better. My cough and shortness of breath have significantly improved. My exercise tolerance has improved. I even climbed 3 flights of stairs at one point during this cruise. But peripheral neuropathy has changed little, but I think that the extent of the neuropathy has decreased in that there is less loss of sensation in the mid-calf level than there was. Before the cruise, I complained of some pain which appeared to come from the area one of my right lower ribs. Of course, whenever there is unexplained pain, one immediately thinks that it may be metastatic disease. However I think that I must've pulled a muscle while coughing, as the pain has gone away. 
At the end of the cruise, on Friday night, I began to have severe heartburn. This became substantially worse on Saturday and Saturday night. I have had some difficulty explaining this. It felt like heartburn in that it was a burning pain centered on the lower chest, just like  heartburn that I used to have before I began taking Prilosec. However it did not seem to be related to acid reflux as I have been on full doses of Prilosec, and the pain seemed to be at its worst right after  and during eating.  On about 2 occasions, the pain was so severe that I was postulating that may have torn the mucosa of the esophagus.  Of course, when this happens, one immediately becomes convinced that there is now metastatic disease or that the tumor in my lower esophagus has again begun to grow. However I am now theorizing that this was due to viral infection as I was exposed significantly during this cruise as I will describe below. In fact, I am feeling significantly better, and this pain has almost completely gone away.
In summary, I am back to thinking  optimistically, that, knock on wood, I'm feeling about as well as I have ever since I began radiation treatments.

Part 2. The Family Cruise

The photo above was taken on the 2nd formal night of the family cruise. Standing from left to right, are Mike, our youngest son, Leanna, his wife, Brian, our middle son, Dana, Gary's wife, and Gary, our oldest son. Sitting are Judy and me. To my left is Eva, our oldest granddaughter, Age 10 1/2. The bottom row consists of Sara, Eli, Bel, and Sammie.  Sara, 4 1/2  and Bel,  2 1/2 belong to Gary and Dana. Sammie 3 1/2 and Eli 1 1/2  belong to Mike and Leanna.
The cruise began with numerous fiascoes. Mike and his family together with Judy and  I  all stayed at the Holiday Inn in Long Beach. There was supposed to be a free shuttle going to the terminal from the hotel, and we could park the car for a week at no additional charge. It turned out that the shuttle only went to the Long Beach port and our cruise was taking off from San Pedro. we needed to get a shuttle to take us to the cruise terminal, and it was quite a job fitting all the luggage into that shuttle, (not free).
There was a virus going around, and Sara  was sick, and we were not sure that we would be able to get onto the ship. They do have a health questionnaire, and they have the right to bar access to the  cruise if they feel that a person may be a health risk to passengers.  However everybody managed to meet on board ship and get underway.
The premise was that for the family cruise, everybody would be on their own, but we would all meet for dinner. In fact, most of the time, we were together. This was very nice, but did involve more babysitting for Judy than she had anticipated. The 1st two family dinners were terribly disorganized. The wait staff was particularly slow, and this exceeded the patience of the grandchildren.  There were lots of requests for special orders for the small children, and this somewhat overburdened the waiter and his assistant. By the time we had the 3rd dinner, after I spoke to the maĆ®tre d', the situation was fairly well resolved. However there were many instances where grandchildren had to be taken out of the dining room and food for the parents was sent to the room.
There is an excellent children's program on board the ship. However 2 of the grandchildren were too young to stay there without adult supervision. Much of the time, the adult supervisor was Judy.
In the middle of the cruise, Sammie  ran a fever of up to 104. She did not seem nearly as sick as that number would indicate. However clearly, there was a virus involved.
In Cabo San Lucas, Brian took Eva  ziplining,  and that was a highlight for them. On the last night, there was another fiasco. Eva and Sarah disappeared and were nowhere to be found. There is nothing so terrifying as the disappearance of children. We had the whole ship's crew searching for them, and they turned up at a dance club, where they were having a great time dancing as everybody else was searching.
At the end of the cruise, we all went our separate ways. However everybody but Brian ended up meeting for lunch just south of Bakersfield on the way home. Mike and his family stayed over at our house as it would be too long a trip to drive all the way to San Jose where they were going to stay with  her parents for a week. This is the time when Eli became ill. He spent the whole night crying and could not be soothed enough to get some sleep. On Sunday morning, they took him to a pediatrician, who said that this was a viral infection. We had suspected that it might be an ear infection.
By Sunday at noon, our house was finally quiet. The cruise was over. We were left with fond memories, and viral infections.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Hurray! I don't have a Doctor's Appointment for Today

It's a Wednesday, and I don't have to see Dr. Flam today. In fact, I don't have to see him for another 6 weeks. I will need my port flushed 2 weeks from today.
I am feeling somewhat better. Although I am still short of breath, I can take a deeper breath without coughing. The cough syrup helps. It does contain a narcotic, so I try to take it only in the morning.
My neuropathy has changed a little. Occasionally, I do have some pain in my feet. This is new. However, there appears to be less numbness above the ankles than there was previously. My hands show little change. My mouth is still quite dry, and it makes many foods unappetizing. This includes bread, cake, and cookies. However my sense of taste has substantially improved, and is close to normal.
On Friday, we will drive to Los Angeles and stay over at the Holiday Inn in Long Beach. On Saturday, we will embark on our family cruise to the Mexican Riviera. (These days, the Mexican Riviera includes only Ensenada  and Cabo San Lucas.) There are no other stops. Whether this is because Princess Cruises is trying to save money, or because of unrest in Mexico, is uncertain. This is a vacation we've been planning for some time. It is a real family cruise. It will include our 3 sons, 2 daughters-in-law, and 5 grandchildren. When we planned this, I was hoping I could go, but I was not very confident that I would be in good enough health to enjoy it.  It seems to have worked out well.
We have now booked another cruise, this time, to Hawaii, at the end of February. I am very optimistic about this one.
I have been working about 3 mornings  a week at Kaiser Permanente,  and plan to work 4 full days at  Sierra  Imaging  at the end of December.
In other news,  the IRS has disallowed the deduction I took for the Ponzi scheme that I was a victim of. My  file was sent to Atlanta, but the agent who reviewed my tax return did not have the entire tax return but only the numbers to review. They didn't bother to give him the supporting documentation. Of course, he disallowed what was classified as a miscellaneous deduction. The IRS then stalled the case until the deadline for me to go to Tax Court was so close, that the case would not be reviewed in time. I think that the agent who receive the case in Atlanta did not want to have anything to do with it, and so just delayed to force me to go to Tax Court. This is an annoying bump in the road, and  I would be much more upset, I'm sure, if I did not have the experience of having to fight a malignant neoplasm. That helped put these minor annoyances into their proper perspectives.
I will conclude this post, and hopefully future posts, with an anecdote from the past.
One day I was doing a carotid angiogram. These examinations are done with the patient awake, although sedated. We were most interested in the region of the origin of the internal carotid artery in the neck, but had some interest in the branches at the base of the skull. When the catheter was in place, I was giving instructions to the technologist as to how to position the patient. The conversation went as follows.
Me: "It's important that we get the neck in this patient and not so important that we have the entire brain."
Technologist,  after setting up the equipment, “Is this okay?”
Me: “No. I don't care if you cut off the top of the patient's head. Just make sure you get the neck on”.
Patient:  “I care. Don't cut off the top of my head!”
 The moral of this little story is: Be  careful of what you say, because you don't know who may be listening.