Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Elk Hunting

   Elk hunting season has come and gone. I guess I should add it was unsuccessful. How could it be successful when I can’t even walk in the woods without falling down and every time I fall down I worry I’m not going to be able to get back up. I am just starting to realize there are things I can no longer do and honestly I probably shouldn’t try. I wonder if you can get one of those help I’ve fallen and can’t get up buttons that will work in the wilderness.? Yes that was a joke!  I had Oncology dentistry smack dab in the middle of the elk hunting season. What a drag having to come out of the woods to go to Portland! That place has become such a shit hole. There is literally homeless tents and garbage and human feces everywhere. I quit hunting Friday basically. Saturday morning I just packed up and went home. Day before yesterday Monday the 14th  I did have to go to my regular oncology appointment. Oh yeah, back to Portland. Having to go back to Portland was definitely the bad news but the good news is my PSA still remains undetectable and stable so I guess I’m doing great. Right now I’m sitting in the hot tub debating whether or not I’m going to get dressed  And drive back to Portland again. I don’t really want to go to Portland but at least this time there is a good reason for it. After much consideration and soul-searching and wondering if I was going to have buyers remorse, we bought another used Harley Davidson motorcycle. It is ready to be picked up. They are actually going to deliver it to my doorstep on the day before Thanksgiving next week but looking at the forecast it’s not supposed to start raining until Monday and although it is unseasonably cold here it’s supposed to be sunny for the next Three or four days. It will suck to have the bike sitting in the garage and only be able to look at it. If I went and got it today I could probably take it for a ride tomorrow and Friday. Anyway that’s it for now I hope you guys are all staying positive . 
Todd

Thursday, November 3, 2022

I’m not Superman

   I always thought that I could do anything. My philosophy has always been nothing was going to slow me down. Push through the pain and get it done. I was incredibly na├»ve.  I never wanted to be on disability. I like working but Time catches up with all of us at some point. It’s a fine line that I walk. These last few months have been really hard. I feel myself slowing down. I guess I’m not really superman after all. 
   My oncology appointment is coming up next week. I fully expect changes. I don’t know what that means at the moment but I just don’t feel good anymore. I have been having hot flashes again. I have not had noticeable hot flashes in years but here we are. I have terrible night sweats. My bowels are messed up. I often wake up in the middle of the night having to use the bathroom. Sometimes more than once. It would be fine if it was just to urinate but that is not the case.. My mind has been slipping lately. I can’t remember anything. I drop things constantly. It’s like I don’t have any feeling in my fingertips. My brother asked me to help him put a roof on his deck. I used to be a pretty good Carpenter. I could work all day and get stuff done but now everything is changed. I was helping him and I broke out in a cold sweat and felt like I was going to throw up . I lost my balance and fell. I lose my balance all the time now. I try to shield Amanda from what I’m going through. She worries too much. I think she knows though. I am losing interest in things I use to love doing. It’s not worth the pain anymore.  My knees hurt so bad walking has become increasingly difficult. I still walk to the mailbox with her and sometimes I will go up to the lake with her and walk through the county park but I am in constant pain when I do. I go through a large bottle of Advil every month. I worry I am killing my kidneys. Lately she has been going by herself half the time. I have been having problems with my vision. Amanda calls them ocular migraines I don’t know if that’s what they are. All I know is that my field of view flutters in my peripheral vision. The fluttering gets gradually worse until I only have a narrow field of view that I can see clearly through.If you have ever watched heat waves on asphalt during a really hot day that is kind of what my vision is doing. They usually last half an hour. I don’t know if it is cancer related. All I know is I used to have them early in my diagnosis but they went away when the cancer became undetectable. They came back again 5  years later while I was awaiting an insurance decision for Provenge and went away shortly after receiving the treatment. Now they are back. I have a nodule in my groin. I think it is an enlarged lymph node but I will let my oncologist know about it at my visit next week. I thank  God that I don’t have to go to work anymore. There’s no way I could do that. When we moved into this new home there was a lot of stuff that needed to be done. I was working full time at a labor intensive job and couldn’t do both. After I was approved for disability I worked my ass off to do what I could do by myself but I don’t think I could do that again honestly. I ended up hiring a contractor to complete the job. We didn’t have the money to do it so I took a large chunk of money out of my 401(k) to have it done. I worry about the future. Not so much for me but for Amanda. What if I die. What will she do. I had hoped to live long enough that when my time did come there would be enough money in my 401(k) to at least pay off the house but with the stock market going to hell that is not likely to happen. 
   We have had this amazing wonderful life together. For so many years we have enjoyed boating, wakeboarding, waterskiing, hiking, bicycle riding and traveling. I just don’t care to do those things anymore. Sure I can probably get on my board and let her tow me around the lake but it’s not fun anymore. It hurts too much. I still get a lot of joy however watching my granddaughters learning how to do the things I have loved my entire life. We took both of them up to the lake this past summer and they both learned how to wakeboard. They absolutely fell in love with it. I enjoy being on the boat. I enjoy parking in a secluded Cove throwing the anchor and spending the day swimming and relaxing. I enjoy going fishing with my brother and my mom. I guess things change. I have gotten to the point where if a drive more than an hour I can barely walk when I get out of the truck. God forbid I have to ride in Mandy’s  little Honda car. Getting in and out of it is difficult.
   I don’t want this post to be all gloom and doom. I have been finding new things to love that don’t take a toll on my body. Spending time with Amanda riding the motorcycle on country roads is wonderful. We fell in love all over again riding through the national park this past summer. Best of all it doesn’t hurt to do it. We upgraded to a larger and more comfortable motorcycle. Zero down payment and a reasonable monthly payment. The bike is 20 years old but in really good condition and it’s something Mandy and I can do without causing more pain so anyway that’s where I’m at right now. I’m supposed to have knee surgery on my right knee and then later next year maybe getting my left knee done.  We shall see how the right knee goes. The orthopedic surgeon says my left knee is worse than the right knee but the right knee is the one that keeps me awake at night. I do know it’s going to put me out of commission for a while. It’s a good thing we have a comfortable couch.


Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Top of the World.


  Last weekend Mandy and I rode the Sportster up into the Mt Rainier National Park. OMG!!! Stunning. This past summer we have started to explore our new home. It’s not like this home is all that far from our last home. I think we are only 40 miles from Toutle but we are in an entire new river valley with new hikes and new mountains. 
   I find it odd that I am 58 and have never explored Mt. Rainier. I wish I had done it years ago when I still had knees. Today is the third day since going up there and The pain is just now waning. I hope to recieve my first new knee this December before my insurance rolls over. Perhaps Iwill have the second one done next December. 
  Mt Rainier National park sits almost dead center of southwest Washington state. It is a massive dormant volcano surrounded by alpine meadows, high mountain lakes, and old growth forest. There are hundreds of miles of hiking trails through the park. The mountain is roughly 14,600’ high. Paradise lodge sits at 5400’ of elevation. There is a paved trail from the lodge that leads to an overlook that looks out over the Alpine Meadows. The fall colors were extraordinary. We saw a mountain goat, deer, and this guy. 
   
   The road leading to Paradise Lodge is a beautiful winding two-lane road with stunning vistas and overlooks. The speed limit is 35 mph so it is a great place to ride a motorcycle.

   



If you are disabled due to cancer you may be eligible for free access to all of the National Parks. This day trip was very very GFMPH.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Faith. We must live like we don’t know.

    In previous posts I have mentioned the hope study! What is the Hope study?  Well the skinny version way over paraphrased to suit my country dialect goes something like this. A lot of years ago probably before I was born a bunch of scientist decided to try and figure out if Faith played a role in life and death situation. The control arm of the study took a bunch of mice or rats or some rodent that they deemed unfit to live and put them in an aquarium and put a lid on the aquarium and filled the aquarium with water to a level where they had to continue to swim or drown! It didn’t take long and they all drowned. I know this is pretty morbid stuff but it is true!!! this happened!! Anyway, that was the control arm of their study. In the trial arm or perhaps I should call it the experimental arm of the study they did the exact same thing but when the mice or rats or rodents or whatever they were started to struggle  they pulled them out of the water they put them in a warm bed and they fed them.  Just one would say giving the mice faith that they would survive. The next day they did the same thing but it took like a ton longer for the mice to begin to struggle it was like 45 minutes later they were all still swimming because they had faith that they could survive. 

    This to me is a really cool story and I could post a link to the study but I am inherently lazy. I’m also not very computer savvy so if I can find it you can find it just type the HOPE study into your search engine and I won’t swear to it but I think this was at Jon Hopkins or a similar University.

   It is my profound belief that if we truly have faith that if nothing else we can fight this disease and we have better outcomes than people who don’t. Faith!!!! What does this mean? How do we get there? I don’t know! As stated prior I am inherently lazy and unfortunately my mother said I always had to learn lessons the hard way so here I am. I am working on 17 years of dealing with this disease. Has Faith played a role? I think it has but to be honest I don’t know. I don’t really feel like I have a lot of faith but I suppose it would be the definition of faith to the person reading this post.. I’m not sure that makes sense and sometimes I struggle to explain the things I’m trying to say  Which is why I write. Because I am not very well educated and grew up big time blue-collar I struggle to convey the message. There is also 15 years oh hormone therapy rotting my brain. I do it better by telling stories because really that’s all I’m good at. I’m good at telling my story and I pray daily that my story helps others. 

I hold to the standard that faith by definition is somehow arriving at a place where you just know that your disease has been cured. I’ve read stories of people that just simply quit going to the doctor because they believed they were healed by Jesus. Maybe they were I don’t know. I know that I don’t have the faith to stop going to the doctor so by definition I don’t have faith.  Maybe I have something better than faith. The truth is I don’t want to be able to move mountains because I could never be trusted with that kind of power and responsibility. Maybe just maybe I have the next best thing.

Many years ago shortly before my diagnosis I had come to a conclusion that I really did want to live. At that point I begin to put my life back together and I believed my life wasn’t over. Imagine my surprise when they months later they told me like my life was over. At that point in my life there was nothing I could do but surrender. I didn’t surrender to the disease. I surrender to God‘s will in my life. It became very clear to me that I was no longer in control. Now I have a definition of God but my definition  is not everyone’s definition in fact I’m probably in the minority but that’s OK because everybody has God. They don’t know it, or they know it and they don’t care, but to some people God is self to some people God is science to some people God doesn’t exist. To me he does. God exists.  He wants me to use my gifts. So I do what I do. As best as I can but God gave me the gift of life as well as other gifts and to waste a day of life worrying about a tomorrow I am not guaranteed has got to feel like a slap in the face to the person who gave the gift. 

To church goers reading this blog, I want a lot of you to know that I don’t fit into your definition of Christianity. Sometimes I drink and sometimes I get drunk. I curse daily. I ran the zero turn lawnmower over an underground nest of yellow jackets! I am here to tell you I am prolific in the art of cursing. Sometimes you just gotta send it. 
Oh I believe in God the father God the Son and  God the holy spirit and I believe Christ gave his life in my place. In my opinion everything else is just details.

Now to get to the meat and taters of what I’m trying to say. There’s a song that says live like you were dying by Tim McGraw I’ve quoted it before. I think that song is a step in the right direction but I believe you’ve got to get to the point where you live like dying doesn’t matter. We’re all gonna die. It’s going to happen to every single one of us. I believe I have a day and an hour And I accept that. Surrendering to it may be the best thing I ever did.  Surrender to the fact that we are not getting out of here alive and resolve to liveour life every day like cancer has no power over us I think it comes  down to surrendering honestly. It’s a mind set. It’s a matter of the heart. 

I am thankful for my life. Oh I will live every day like it is a gift to be treasured and that it may be my last one. Somehow I got to a place where the only time I believe I have cancer is when I have to go to the doctor.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

16 years 3 months and counting.

I am still here and still undetectable. Life is pretty good. I was able to complete the lions share of the chores I had planned for this past summer and was even able to spend a lot of time on the water recreating. Life seems to be slowing down and I feel as though I have entered a time of peace and contentment. I wish my sweetheart could retire with me but at this time in our lives it just doesn’t seem to be in the cards for a while. Maybe if I had a rich uncle that kicked the bucket I would be able to make that happen but I think I have a better shot at winning Powerball and truth be told I don’t play the lottery. Personally I feel like I won the lottery the day I met Amanda. Living in the country certainly has been a blessing. Right now I’m sitting in the hot tub looking out at the woods that surround our home writing this post. The leaves are starting to turn and there is a chill in the night air. As wet as the last winter and spring were I can’t believe I’m saying this but I really wish the rain would arrive. We need it. Ever since Covid started in 2020 my patient advocacy work has pretty much went down the toilet. I often think of starting it up again but truth be told I lack motivation. Maybe that’s what this post is but probably not. I live in the middle of nowhere so playing an active role in a support group is off the table. I haven’t been playing any music however we did recently start rehearsing again. It is comforting to know that even though I am now 58 years old and have been living with advanced prostate cancer these past 16 years three months and one week I can still tear it  up on a slalom ski behind our boat.


On a positive note my oncologist signed off on knee replacement for me and I have an appointment next Friday to discuss it with a surgeon. If I am able to have a knee replacement I’m hoping it will come after mid November. Elk hunting season always starts the first weekend in November in our neck of the woods and I don’t want to miss it. I would rather hobble around like an old crippled guy then miss spending 10 days in the woods with my buddies chasing elk. 

I lost another friend to this shitty disease yesterday! We knew it was coming. He had been going downhill for a long time and yet nothing could change his attitude and zest for life. He choked the life out of every single day until the very end. He will be missed. Sonny was a true beacon of inspiration. I never met him personally but I shared treasured phone conversations with him. His attitude was infectious. I believe he is in a better place and out of pain but those of us who remain have lost a beautiful human being. God speed Sonny.

Sometimes I think that is the reason I have moved away from advocacy. Losing friends sucks. I guess however, it is in evitable. We must all say goodbye for a while whether we have cancer or not and I am getting older. It feels good to say that. I am getting older. I have been blessed in so many ways. I am so thankful for my life and for the many friends this disease has brought into it.

 


Tuesday, November 2, 2021

So many changes

   Man what a year it’s been. Looking back I see that it has actually been almost a year since I last posted. There have been so many changes I don’t even know where to start.
   First of all we moved. Mandy was offered a job that she just couldn’t refuse and our thought process at the time was I will only be working at most six more years .Moving closer to her employment seemed to make the most sense. Moving was a wild ride. I didn’t believe our house was going to sell especially for the exorbitant price we were asking for it. Within 22 hours we had three full price offers. The offer we excepted was a cash offer.  The people buying our house closed on October 15 and we closed on the new home October 16. We had 24 hours to be out of the house. Thank God for really good friends or we would not have finished on time. It is amazing how much actual crap a family collects over a 15 years span living in one place.  We hauled off at least 10 loads to the dump and recycling center, had a garage sale,  and gave a truckload of stuff to goodwill. We still had a carport full of stuff that we gave away to whoever would take it. 
   We love our new home. It was only five years old when we purchased it and it is everything we always dreamed of but never thought we could afford. We have six beautiful acres with a year-round creek running through the back of the property. We can see our closest neighbor but we have to walk out into the driveway to do it. Deer and elk graze through our property regularly and we have seen bear and Cougar scat on occasion.. We really are in B.F.E. though. I mean we are only 1/2 a mile from a Highway but once you are on the highway it is a half hour to the grocery store.


   In January 2021 I began having a lot of pain in my knees again. My orthopedic surgeon said there was nothing he could do but replace the joints. My oncologist said no way due to bone metastasis. Long story short, I am now retired. Sonically security approved my disability claim in 6 weeks and I will be signing paperwork at the end of the year to make it official. Adjusting too early retirement has been challenging. This really came as a surprise to me. I couldn’t wait for retirement and eight months into this process I am only just now starting to get comfortable with it. I have lots of stuff to keep me busy. I spent the last five weeks fishing for salmon and deer hunting. I did pretty good at both. Elk hunting season begins on Saturday. Although washington State elk hunting success rates average one elk every 10 years I have managed to do significantly better than that filling the freezer on average every other year. Hopefully in two weeks we will have a freezer full of venison elk steak summer sausage and salmon. ever since my diagnosis in 2006, I have refrained from eating much pork or beef unless it was organically farmed locally. Basically all we eat is wild game wild fish and organic poultry. I am not a trophy Hunter. I hunt for food.
  Once hunting season is over then fishing season for winter steelhead arrives. After that the holidays and then snowmobiling season. All of these things are used to do while working full-time. I have no idea how I accomplish this. It seems I never have enough time to get anything done.
   Yesterday was Oncology day. All  my blood work came back normal so at 15 years 4 months and 26 days from diagnosis cancer still remains undetectable. I hope to enjoy 15 or 16 years of retirement. I don’t wanna be one of those guys who works his entire life retires and passes away a few years later. I guess that’s really out of my hands so I will just give it over to God‘s will.
   


Monday, November 23, 2020

An actual Prostate cancer post.

   Earlier today I did a rant. I just needed to vent my frustrations in a safe environment. Thank you for tolerating me. As long as it has been since I wrote anything you deserve more. 
   I had an oncology visit in late September and all was well. PSA was still undetectable and my lungs were clear. It seems weird to talk about lung metastasis when dealing with prostate cancer. 
   I have been having dreams lately. Strange dreams. Rising PSA dreams. I have also notice a weaker stream  when urinating. Put the two things together and it brings a certain amount of anxiety. I am okay. Although difficulty urinating is a symptom of prostate cancer it is also a symptom of BPH. It seems I have survived long enough to develope symptoms of growing old. It is a bitter sweet emotion. I am happy about my continued success at beating the crap out of cancer (Thank you God) but I am getting arthritis in my knees and shoulders. It’s harder to do the things I love. I just know I have to keep myself as fit as possible. I turn 57 in a couple weeks. I want to continue to water ski and wake board and ride snowmobiles. 
   I started taking flow max a few days ago and my symptoms are beginning to subside. I feel a little mrw at ease. 
  We moved. I went into it a little in my previous rant but it was in the context of frustration and anger. We are in our forever home now. We bought a beautiful home on 6 acres with a creek and it is a quiet forested location. It is near our summer and winter recreation area and we honestly couldn’t be happier. Mandy even let me buy a tractor. Someday she will actually let me drive it. I think she likes it more than I do.
   I have been stage 4 for 14-1/2 years. It’s really hard to believe. I am being allowed to see my dreams come true. I feel so blessed. Life is really a wonderful ride. Her are a few pics.