Thursday, December 10, 2009


To be perfectly honest, I had been mentally composing a "Lather, Rinse, Repeat" blog entry for the past two weeks. My chest hurts, pains sparking on the left and right sides of my abdomen and my cough is getting old. The Onc appointment today was just a formality to confirm what I already knew, relapse. I have been trying to keep a brave face for Laurie and the kids, often waking early in the morning to roll around and fret about my next round of chemo. Today couldn't come soon enough to relieve me of my stress; at least I would know.

Interestingly enough, a blizzard kicked in so driving to LHCP was exactly like last year, treacherous. We left early to make sure we were on time and fought our way down the freeway with everyone driving very cautiously. After sign-in, they immediately called my name for a blood draw. The phlebotomists are still having some difficulty finding veins. She poked me only to have the vein roll away. She queried, "How's the weather holding up?" while tipping the needle around under my skin trying to snare the slippery tube. Blood finally shot up the tube and we were in business. I filled out the "How are you feeling today?" paperwork and they called me back. The dreaded weigh-in, gained 4 lbs and high BP (145/93). Wouldn't anyone's blood pressure elevate given the possibility of relapse? Deep breath.

In the waiting room, Laurie and I have a laugh about this and that until my Onc enters the room. OK, don't mince words, let's have it...

"CT was clean as a whistle." Huh? Are you sure you have the right results? No Evidence of Disease (NED). What? 100 lbs lifted from my shoulders and suddenly I am in a different world. I'm still cancer free. Yeah baby Yeah!

He did the normal groping for swollen nodes, nothing. Lungs sound clear. I asked several questions about my mental state and the pain which can all be attributed to my Thanksgiving cold. The Onc explained that my lymphoma will take several weeks to present symptoms so I should just relax and only get uptight if strong symptoms arrive (night sweats, fever, extreme malaise, swollen nodes, etc.) but otherwise, enjoy a chemo free Xmas. I will.

"Lose some weight, buy a BP cuff for home use and monitor it for a while. Keep up the good work. See you in 3mos."


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Post CT Scan #2

So now I wait.

Tuesday night I was instructed once again to figure out a way to drink another dose of Barium Sulfate. They have a new fangled bottle shape and have tried to mask the chalky taste with an artificial orange cream flavoring. Forever the food tinkerer, I decided to try a frostier approach. I left the bottle in the freezer a little too long forcing me to churn it with a spoon to dislodge the icy chunks from the sides of the container. Instead of chalk, the slushy substance was chock full of ice flakes and olive-sized blobs.

The next morning, for the second bottle, I opted for the straight approach. Guzzled half the bottle and set the rest aside for a little pre-scan refreshment.
I should also mention that I started coughing late on Saturday and should have secured a power dose of Echinacea but a warm bed and sleep seemed prudent. The cold took its usual course but I can't help being reminded of my respiratory condition at exactly this time last year. Saturday (12/5) signals the one year anniversary of my foray into NHL.

The scan was uneventful. Normal niceties with the Tech and a brief synopsis of my journey followed by the ritual stabbing of the needle and subsequent introduction of another 120 mL of contrast and saline. That wonderful internal heat wakes your mouth, chest and then your loins. The CT machine began to accelerate as I was inserted into the "donut." Several "hold your breaths" and in-n-outs later, I'm back on my feet as contrast odor begins emanating from my pores.

My Onc visit is next Wednesday and I really hope that I do not hear from them until that time. If the caller ID displays "Cancer and Hemat" anytime before next week, I will panic slightly. Repeat after me, "NED...NED...NED."

So now I wait.