5 year port.

My new port went in this morning.  Oh well.

I got up at 6:30, put on an acceptable hospital outfit, and walked down to Mt. Sinai.  They’re getting pretty used to me down there.  Maybe I can get some sort of customer reward card.

The surgeon did the procedure without any sedative.. just local.  Yikes.  My face was tented so that I couldn’t watch, but he had an anesthesiology resident scrubbed in with him, and was describing what he was doing with enough detail that I didn’t really NEED to be able to see.  I’ve got a decent imagination.

“So, there you can see the pectoralis, and here, the deltoid..  you follow this line between them seperating the.. ”  Etc..     “Nurse, may I have a rake?”  A RAKE!??  What on earth are you planning to do with a rake?

It’s on the left side this time.  And this time he went into the subclavian vein, instead of the jugular, which I’m guessing will mean that you won’t be able to see the tube running under the skin the way you could on my last one.

The course of treatment has been settled on, and I’ll start on monday.  To say that I’m not looking forward to it would be a little coy.  I am dreading it.  I’ve done it before, so I know what I’m getting into, and that’s just the problem!  This time there will also be the addition of a drug that will make me break out with acne.  I had terrible acne as a teen, and I really hated it..  It was such a blow to confidence!  I hope I’m able to handle it a little better as an adult.  This acne drug also has to be dripped every week, instead of every two..  so it’s going to make the schedule just a little more grueling.

last night’s dinner

Seth and Eunice recently sent me some really nice polenta after Eunice posted some particularly nice looking cornbread on flickr and I said “nom nom.”  It inspired this meal last night.  We’ve been buying some beautiful duck from the farmer’s market recently.  Really hard to beat.  There is SO much amazing fat on the breasts, that if you render it out you can use it for all sorts of things..  In this case, for frying up the parsnips!  wow.

I cooked up the polenta with some chicken stock, then poured it out onto the counter, and spread it nice and thin.  Once it cooled, I cut it into fingers, lightly coated it with oil, and put it in a hot oven (450 or so) until the fingers were nicely browned.  So good.  This polenta they sent was just amazing.  Dried corn that still tastes like CORN!

But here’s the thing I want to talk about:  Escarole.  When I eat escarole, I’m with the one I love.

For a while now I’ve been wandering around in the produce section just knowing that there’s some vegetable that’s been missing.  It’s escarole!  It’s not that I hadn’t had the stuff before..  but I have recently fallen in love.  We have it about every other night lately, and I’ve come up with a great simple way to make it.

Thinly slice some garlic and slowly brown it in plenty of olive oil.  Empty out the pan through a strainer into a bowl or something and set aside the garlic.  Now you’ve got beautiful garlic oil AND nice garlic chips to garnish.

Get a flashy pan nice and hot, add the garlic oil, and just before it starts smoking like mad, throw in the escarole (washed and chopped with the wash water still clinging to it..).  Keep the escarole moving until the pan cools down a little, then cover it for 30 seconds or so to steam.  Check on it.  Don’t over cook it.  Salt and pepper..  don’t fuck it up.  Turn the pan out into a bowl and top with the garlic chips.  Too many beautiful.  (oh oh!!  and lately it’s been $0.49 per lb at our local super market!!).

Ok.

It’s back!

I got home yesterday from a third opinion appointment that just served to confuse things a little more and  found a big wooden crate waiting for me.  The ASSLESS is back!  I built it up post haste.  I know that there will be those out there that miss the matte black rattle can job, and think that I’m messing with an icon to change anything!!   Those maybe who feel that this new approach is a little too flashy.. maybe even a little too literal! (“Come on, Ezra..  an angry red ass on the assless!!???”).  To you, I say.. get over it.  I’m the one who has to ride the bloody torture machine, and I felt that it was time for a change.  So I present to you the Assless Mark II.

I had such a nice time putting it back together. It was the first I’d done anything with my hands in almost 2 months!  It made me really miss it all.  Riding it feels fine.  Just as tiring as I remember it!  I took a nice flat ride over to Modsquad cycles to pick up some new grips for it this morning, just to test things out (and by “things,” I mean the anatomical adjustments to my whatsis.. ) and when that seemed fine, I made the climb up the big hill to Grant’s Tomb to take a few pictures.  I’m guessing I’ll feel it later, but maybe not. I will not always need to ride this thing.  Just for the time being while the perineal incision heals.  The docs haven’t exactly cleared me to ride it..  but I figure, what they don’t know can’t hurt me.

This weekend I’m in the throws of trying to come to terms with these second and third opinions that I got over the last few days.  The good news is that both docs felt that it wasn’t unreasonable to expect that this could be a cure!  That I could go through the 6 months of chemo and then be done.. never have to deal with it again.  This is a FAR more optimistic outlook than we had been allowing ourselves to have!  They both agreed that I needed to do the chemo (BLAST!!  was hoping that one would say, “ah shit..  don’t bother.. I’m guessing you’re cured NOW!!  Get back to work.. go build some bikes.”  No. wait.  What I was actually hoping for was that they’d come back from going over my films and say, “Um.. daniel.  We’ve got some great news!  Uh..   there was a bit of a mix up with the pathology reports..  These weren’t yours, in fact.  There’s nothing wrong with YOU.  This other guys is in pretty serious trouble, however..  Oh.  And we’re SUPER sorry about that colostomy!” at which point we could discuss the exact figures of the settlement).  What they’re disagreeing on is what drugs to use.  I won’t go into the details.  It boils down to using a drug that I’ve had before, which obviously didn’t work, or using a different drug which has a much lower success rate.  Use the really big gun that didn’t work last time and hope that it works this time, or use the pea shooter, just in case my cancer is really defenseless against pea shooters.  Hard choice.

Less briefly

Yesterday was somehow filled by back to back appointments with my oncologist and the surgeon.  Always amazing to me how two quick appointments can fill up the day.  I think the three hour nap I took when I got home helped!  It was the sleep of intense relief.

I didn’t really realize until getting the pet scan, and waiting through the weekend for the results, just how anxious I was about it.  It has been the assumption all along that the cancer had not taken hold elsewhere, and yet we had no hard evidence that this was the case.  I spent the weekend feeling pretty gloomy, and imagining what it would mean if they found tumors in the liver.. in the lungs.  So a clean scan, despite the fact that it was precisely what we were expecting, was an intense relief.  (“yipeeee….  it’s still stage IIIc not stage IV!!!”)

It doesn’t, however, mean much of anything about course of treatment.  I will still be receiving 6 months of chemotherapy.  This will include a drug called Erbitux (I just made the mistake of looking up images of the side effects.  Yikes!) It will also include Oxaliplatin, the drug responsible for the numb hands and eventually feet that I experienced last time around.  It is definitely feeling harder this time to march into 6 months of chemo, KNOWING what it does.  Last time I was able to take a real, “hey.. how bad can it be?” approach.

Knowing what’s coming, we’re being a little more proactive this time about finding ways to diminish the side effects, most especially the nausea.  Unfortunately, there’s no way of knowing if any of it works until you’re in the middle of it!

Today is my own.  I have no appointments scheduled.  I will spend it at the pool hall.  On thursday and friday, we will be getting second and third opinions that will most likely confirm the need for the chemo, and reassure us that we’re on the right course.  Early next week I will probably have the port placed, though it isn’t scheduled yet.  Chemo will start on the 15th.  One of the things that I’ve hated most about being sick over these years has been the loss of control.. the feeling that your time stops being your own.  To some degree it will be a relief to get into the rhythm of chemotherapy.  To know that the first three days of every two weeks will suck, and that I’ll be attached to a pump, but that after that I’ll be left alone for 10 days to recover.

Tomorrow byram healthcare supplies will be shipping out my next order of bags.  This time opaque!!!  Also, from a different company that makes products geared towards a more active lifestyle.. lower profile and more flexible.  I think this will be a real improvement.  I’ll keep you posted.  Given the side effects of some of the drugs I’ll be on, I don’t think that the sort of bowel regularity necessary for the irrigation approach be expected until after treatment ends.  In the mean time, I’ll be trying to find the least offensive products possible!

The Assless should be back in my hands on friday!  Sweet!

That’s it.

so briefly

just to say..   The pet scan was clean.

There are no tumors in my liver or lungs or bones.

This is the first good news we’ve had in a while.  Even if only by virtue of not being BAD news!!

I found out a little before noon, and thought, “AH!!  I must tell all those people, so they can uncross their whatnots.. ”  So I went and hopped in bed with all my clothes on and stayed there for most of the afternoon.

A real post tomorrow.

Thank you all.