Thursday, October 28, 2010

Check Up X

My quarterly checkups are becoming routine:

Drive under the LHCP
Grab a ticket
Say "hello" to the elevator monitor
Hit the 3rd floor button
Walk down the hall to the office
Start to get a little queasy from the memories
Check in at the front desk, validate my parking, pay my $20 co-pay
Fill out the "how are you feeling" form
Have blood drawn

Yesterday the waiting area was packed full of the hopeful, most with an advocate. I suspect they all play the same game, "whose the patient?" We all trade glances to determine our place in the spectrum of treatment. Wheelchairs, masks and headscarves are giveaways. Generally this can be difficult while everyone is sitting down but when they are called to the back offices and begin to move, the distinctions are more evident. Cancer cannot be generalized. We are all gathered in the same office but all are there for various fights. I wonder if the staff can look at their patients and make an educated guess on our diagnosis. Curious.

All eyes watch my balance as I saunter back to the exam rooms.
Weigh in time...down almost 50#; not a symptom but a concerted, Primal effort
BP...low, again, thanks Primal
Get escorted to an exam room and wait (now almost an hour past the appt time)
Onc arrives several minutes later with normal "how are you feeling" inquiries
We review my Primal eating activities and he acts impressed.
We do the grope dance as he checks for enlarged nodes and listens to my lungs.
"let's move out to 6 mos. with a CT. you are doing very well"

Music to my ears.

We head back to make an April appt and wade through the wounded and hurting. I feel very guilty about doing so well with all the suffering contained in that waiting area.

I am handed my liters of diabolical drink which will sit in our pantry for the next six months as a looming reminder that I'm still dodging bullets. I confirm with the nurse that this BS (barium sulfate) has no shelf life; exactly.

We lurch into the hallway and immediately the mood changes.
Head down the elevator.
Nod our "have a good day" to the elevator attendant.
Climb into the car and ascend into the daylight from underneath the LHCP.

It is a good day.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Status: Another Check-up

Had another CT Scan on June 21st. Nothing has changed with that process although my head felt as though it was on fire while the contrast was being administered. Typically, that warm feeling wasn't so unpleasant before.
Met with the Onc on June 30th and he announced all was well. Nothing in the blood work, nothing on the scans...there as one outlier; weight loss. Now the Onc and I have had many conversations about my weight since my diagnosis. At one point, I exclaimed, "I'm determined to change my lifestyle and surprise you". He chuckled, "You would be the first".

It has been my experience that doctors realize weight has an affect on general health. They always tell most of us to lose weight and rarely explain how we personally could accomplishwhat with age, seems to be a constant struggle. The old adage, "Eat less, exercise more," seems to be an easy fix but the curious and self-competitive side of me engaged in a pursuit of knowledge that led me to Mark's Daily Apple. As with any movement, primal eating has lurkers, the bleeding edge, and many, many people in between. I'm more comfortable closer toward the edge but I find fanatics troubled and ultimately boring. So I will avoid boring you aside from saying, I am on day 60. 6o days of a lot of meat, eggs, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds. That's it. 27 lbs lighter. More energy, better sleep, stronger. I have reduced my hard cardio work to 1000 jumps with a rope per session every 7-10 days, random body weight exercises (push-ups, pull-ups, dips, etc.), and occasional 5 x 5 using three of the basic weight lifting techniques (squats, deadlifts, curls, presses, etc.). Nothing fancy. Believe me, this is a far cry from some of the weight lifting routines I have embarked on.

The Onc was a bit concerned about the rapid weight loss and whether I would be able to sustain that diet. He also mentioned the China Study book which gave me pause only to find so much contrary evidence online by folks just as qualified and respected as the author.

Anyway, BORING. I decided to start another blog called Primal Paul but realized that I wasn't interested in regular entries about my primal progress. So...I'll use this forum to update all my health progress.

Feeling groovy.

Friday, March 12, 2010


Met with the Onc yesterday for yet another 3 month check-up and it appears that Lymphoma is still on hiatus or a permanent leave of absence. Excellent news! I should probably bring you up to speed on a couple of issues that reared since my last entry. Several weeks ago, I started to feel a dull, 30 second ache/pressure in my chest several times each morning. After a visit with my GP, complete with a normal EKG, he suggested that we start medication to bring down my BP and expressed concern in my overall LBs. I started taking the meds and my skin started to itch. I took every opportunity to find relief, Baloo-style, within the doorways around the house. I was scheduled for a stress test which required IV contrast in order to see my heart sonograms clearly. For those unfamiliar, they take measurements of your heart at rest with a sonogram, put you on a treadmill which increases speed and incline every 3 minutes attempting to get your max heart rate. The contrast pic line was hanging out of my arm during the test and I was instructed to let them know about 1 minute before I was "done." This seemed odd because I didn't know what the criteria for "done" actually was so they suggested a heart rate of 170 bpm. They asked that I not jog but rather walk as fast as possible. This was a comedy as I fought back guffaws during the test. I met with a cardiologist a week later and she said my heart was perfect, no issues. I mentioned the itching so she prescribed an alternative explaining that it may cause some swelling.
I started to perform some cardio and lifting routines from Tony Horton and purchased a DVD set of "Insanity" because I like a challenge. Insanity arrived in the mail and I knew immediately that this would be trouble.
After a week of the second medication, my feet and legs looked like sausages and my skin was stretched to the limit with the swelling. This couldn't continue. I stopped the meds and continued the Insanity work outs. The itching and swelling are gone. My BP has been below normal w/o meds and my sinuses are still clear.
Back to the Onc visit -- before escorting you to the examining room, they always take your blood, BP and weigh you in. My BP was 154/96 and my weight was 6 lbs higher than my last weigh in. Demoralizing. It has only been a couple of weeks but given the amount of sweat on the basement floor, I would have expected to see some improvements. Here's to health...