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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Curses, Foiled Again

So, Tuesday afternoon, in the midst of a blinding snow, I called my trusty friend John. When I gave my name, he asked if next week would be okay and laughed - I didn't even have to start the "look, I'm sorry" routine. I'm glad this is just a check-up and nothing life-threatening; I've been scheduling and re-scheduling since mid-January! Of course, were it life-threatening, I suspect I wouldn't be planning to drive myself down for the appointment. I trust that five attempts to get the appointment in will suffice!

Six or so new inches of snow blanket the ground now, since the snow from last week was rained off over the weekend. Another cycle is to move through this weekend; March threatens to come in like a lamb. Given the lions we've seen this winter I'm not sure I want to see what the end of March brings.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Well, call me a big chicken. It's been snowing steadily all morning, the wind is rising, and I'm not willing to drive to Columbus in this weather. So I called my friend John in Dr. SC's office ("Honey, I wouldn't be out in this either if I didn't have to!") and rescheduled for next week. One of these days I'm actually going to get this appointment in!

Given that Saint H, intrepid traveler with 500 miles weekly to his credit, called to warn me that the roads were bad, I consider that I'm acting most prudently. I'm not used to driving in bad weather anymore, and would consider myself to be just another road hazard out there. I don't want to have gotten through all that I have on the health front, only to end up smashed on the roadside because I've been careless or stupid.

Besides, it's cold out there!!


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Sit Down!

continuous arm chairLast week Saint H took a day off from work, combined that with the weekend, and spent 3 days in a class with master chairmaker Michael Herrel, who has done work with the This Old House crew in the past. Saint H has some work to do (fine shaping, finish sanding, and dyeing to bring out the grain of the poplar, maple, red oak and black walnut parts) but I'd say this is a pretty good result for 3 days' steady work.

Tomorrow I head to Columbus for a make-up appointment with Dr. SC at OSU. I had to cancel twice last month, once because of weather and once because of flu. When I called to reschedule, Dr. SC's scheduler John told me "I have a note here to call you. I'm to make certain that you are feeling okay, find out how you're faring on your present regimen, and see if we need to take a more active role in your care." He seemed pleased that I'm not at death's door (we always share some good laughs when I call). For myself, I'm very, very pleased to know that Dr. SC is keeping tabs on me. I haven't "needed" his services for well over a year but we still keep in touch, and he has always been interested in my care and well-being. Shouldn't all doctors be like that?

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Same Time Next Year??

A year ago today we were heading into a vast winter storm/blizzard; Saint H was snowed in in Columbus for 3 days and I had to hire someone to plow out our lane.

Late last night it started snowing here, and by this morning we had about 5" on the ground. Saint H left a bit early for Columbus, taking clothes with him and promising to stay over if the weather deteriorated. We got more snow here, and it's now sleeting. Needless to say Saint H is staying in Columbus, and I'm staying right here. Marmaduke has been plastered to my side today - I don't think he cares much for the damp cold.

I have fond childhood memories of weathering storms at Uncle Maurice and Aunt Ruby's (they had a wood-burning furnace) - sister, brother and 2 cousins packed into one room, adults in another room, playing cards and having a break from routine. It probably wasn't as much fun as I remember it now. A couple of years ago when we moved out here, I was almost afraid to think of staying here by myself in bad weather. Thankfully my health isn't an issue for now; I just have to hunker down with the obliging cat and wait out the storm. Having grown up with the possibility of being snowed in, there's always food in the house!

Resumed Nexavar on Friday; back to the old routine.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Surgical Dilemma

At my last appointment Dr. G raised the idea of surgery at some point in the future. What surgery would this be? Amongst the initiated, it's known as "tumor debulking", to remove manageable spots of active disease. It's generally undertaken only when the benefits outweigh the risks. And what risks might there be?

First, the risk of surgery itself: My last surgery in January 2004, a partial liver resection to remove the first liver metastasis, resulted in life-threatening abscesses and an 8-month recovery. My dear H was elevated to sainthood through tending me during that recovery, the first 4 months of which involved daily dressing changes on an infected incision. For "daily" you can read, for the first 3 months, thrice- or twice-daily dressing changes. And for dressing changes, you must understand that the process involved not just popping on a bandage, but cleaning an open wound and applying medications, all the while trying to maintain a sterile field around the wound. Caring for the abscesses necessitated my wearing a bag at my waist attached to an internal drain for 4 months. Between the infection and the abscesses I was hospitalized 4 times and could easily have died twice. When additional liver lesions showed up in October 2004, every surgeon and doctor in my coterie lined up to rule out surgery as an option. No matter my general health, even now, would I be prepared to face that kind of risk again? Maybe if my lesions weren't in my lungs and liver I'd feel less worried about the idea.

Second, the risk of "waking up the baby" (as Dr. G put it - clearly he has a young child!) That is, adding stress to one's system may provide just the opportunity needed for cancer to re-assert itself. Would that happen to me?

For now I think we're more than content to keep the current medications and routines in place. It ain't broke, and perhaps there's more to be learned from pushing Nexavar to its logical limits. As Dr. G pointed out, I'm clearly responding to and receiving benefit from the drug, no matter the dosage. I'd like to see how long I can stay at this level before it stops working for me.

Side note: Saturday I noted the beginnings of the return of hand/foot. So I'm off Nexavar until at least Thursday. It took six months this time.

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