Wednesday, April 17, 2019

My five months update

    I have been off treatment for almost 5 months now. Things seem to be going fairly well but I have noticed a few issues that may or may not be related to stopping treatment.
   I’ve been struggling with mild nausea a couple times a week. I’m not really sick to the point of throwing up but I do tend to get a little bit queasy. I have started taking potassium again and that seems to help so maybe my potassium level is still just a little bit low. I don’t know how true it is but a nutritionalist told me that low potassium is usually a sign that there is something else wrong with your body. Well I took potassium almost the entire time I was on Zytiga because it can affect your potassium levels.
    Another issue I have been having has to do with a really annoying pain in my left arm. It is a subtle throbbing pain that seems to radiate from the vicinity of my elbow and perhaps a few inches both north and south of it. I have been working with a guy that practices A.R.T. And he tells me it has to do with nerve inpingement. I have to be honest, it feels remarkably similar to the bone  pain I felt prior to my initial diagnosis in 2006.
    I have not had a PSA test since January therefore I have no idea what is happening biochemically within my body. I see my oncologist May 6 and I have to have blood work done prior to that. It wouldn’t surprise me if all of these things I have been feeling end up being ghost symptoms that go away as soon as I get my PSA back. I am not nervous about the bloodwork. I usually am but not this time. Perhaps I have reached a place where it no longer matters. It will be interesting to find out how I am doing. I suppose I am more curious than anything else. 
    Before I sign off, I have a question. Have you been satisfied with the quality of care you have received since your journey began? If not, what changes could be made to better serve you as a patient?

That’s all for today, Todd

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

The Hard Choice

     Today, I am not writing about my journey. I’m not writing about myself in any way. A recent message from the son of a cancer patient opened a hole in my heart. 
   I wrote about my dad‘s death a few years back. What I did not write about was the mistakes that I made in assuming that my outcome with cancer would be his as well. I am ashamed of my arrogance and my ignorance. 
   My dad had been sick for a long time. In hindsight it was easy to see but the changes came about so slow that we didn’t really notice it as it was happening. His prognosis was poor at diagnosis. His doctors recommended palliative care. We pushed him into radiation and chemo none of which was tolerated by him very well. His last months were miserable. We wanted him to live as long as possible. In our selfish shortsightedness we could not see that quality of life trumps quantity every time. 
   As cancer patients, barring miraculous cure, we may one day reach the point in our journey where the benefit of days or weeks of life is not worth the price we are forced to pay. We may arrive at the crossroad where quality meets quantity and we are forced to choose a direction of travel. That decision should be ours and ours alone to make. Although I occasionally have days where I feel like crap, I am personally not there yet. 

   Recently, we were forced to euthanize our Labrador Retriever. He was 16+ years old. We probably should have done it a year ago. He was deaf as a post. He was almost blind. He had a fatty tumor growing on his side.   (Our vet said it didn’t bother him) He hadn’t been a dog for a long time. In the wild he would died years ago. The problem was I couldn’t bring myself to take him in. I didn’t want to say goodbye. It would hurt. It didn’t matter how the dog felt. It mattered how I felt. When he started falling down and losing control of his bladder and bowels I finally mustered the courage to say goodbye. 
   I don’t want to go like that! I don’t want to cling to days or weeks enduring side effects and feeling like crap. When it is time it is time. I hope that day doesn’t come for a long long time but when it does, make me comfortable. Spend time with me, talk to me, let me eat what I want if I am hungry, let me smoke a Marlboro Red if I choose to, let me partake of a little edible Mary Jane, but mostly, just let me be me and say goodbye in my own way. Let me laugh, smile, and cry if I feel the need. I know it is hard for you. Death is always hardest on those who are left behind. I know you will miss me. I will miss y’all too but I believe I will see you again. It will be okay to let me go. Believe me, when that day comes, it will be what I want.
    I guess this post was about my journey afterall.