Friday, September 1, 2017

August Summary

I made it to CrossFit 17 times in August.  That was after one day in June and two in July.

The most I've ever done in a month is 18 days, and I came within one day of tying that record.

Since our gym opened exactly 7 years ago today, I have done 880 CrossFit workouts.  Tonight will be number 881.

Things continue to improve, but slowly.  My running is getting better, but it's far from good.  My squats this week were 20 pounds heavier than a few weeks ago, so that was good.  I did deadlifts last night at 185# - still less than half of my lifetime best, but I was happy with that number.  There was no doubt that I could have lifted heavier, and next time I do deads, I will probably shoot for 225.

But, I'm still the slowest runner at the gym, and I'm using fairly light weights for a lot of the workouts.  I feel kind of pathetic, but after the chemo and surgery I've been through this year, I need to learn to be grateful that I'm out there.  Many people I've met (online) who have liposarcoma have had treatments that make just walking a challenge.  I'm lucky that I'm still able to challenge myself this way.

Physical therapy is really exposing some imbalances and weaknesses, and I've got some work to do at home to work on that.  It's amazing how losing 2/3 of that one muscle can affect overall strength and balance.  At times, I can really feel other muscles being recruited to cover the muscle that's essentially gone.

My September totals for CF will certainly be lower than this month.  We have five weekends in the month and I rarely do CF on the weekends.  I also have a nine day trip that is a combo of business and vacation, and there will be no CF for those 9 days, most likely.

If I get 12 days in September, it will be a good month.

Right now, I'm hoping that a clean scan or two will let me stay focused in the gym, with no interruptions for treatments.  If that happens, I should do my 1000th lifetime CF workout sometime next summer.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Green Day

For the past few years, my wife and I have really increased the number of concerts that we attend.  Part of this is related to cancer.  In particular, I'm simply much more focused on experiences than acquiring stuff.  And, I greatly enjoy seeing live music.

This year, we've had a really good year.  Adrian Belew.  Dead and Company.   The Specials.  U2. Echo and the Bunnymen.  The Violent Femmes.  And, last night, Green Day.

To be honest, we've been traveling and driving too much recently.  My wife drove 10 hours on Saturday to take our daughter back to Syracuse and I'd driven almost 4 hours that day to do some trout fishing.  We'd been to Boston three times recently.

I had tried to give these concert tickets away, just to avoid driving 4 hours from our office to the show, and then 3 more hours to get home.  Getting home at 3:00 a.m. when you have to work the next day simply isn't a lot of fun.  But, in retrospect, I'm glad we went.

It was the second time we've seen Green Day.  The previous time was the tour for the 21st Century Breakdown album, and we saw them indoors in Albany that time.  It was a pretty straightforward show, with a focus primarily on playing their music, and playing it well.  Yes, they pulled someone out of the audience to play guitar for a bit, but they've been doing that for years.  Last night, they pulled someone to sing in one song and someone to play guitar in another.  The guy they picked to play guitar was only 15 and was pretty good.

This time, GD's lead singer, Billy Joe, seemed much more interested in audience interaction and getting the audience to respond to him or to sing the lyrics for him.  Maybe it has to do with some of his own personal demons, including a problem that he allegedly had with prescription pills of some sort. I simply don't recall him being this overtly interactive with the audience the last time we saw them.  He came across almost as a diva, demanding to be feted by the crowd.  That was my least favorite part of the show and the biggest change since we last saw them.

I told my wife after the show that 1990 Billy Joe Armstrong would probably hate the 2017 version of himself.  Coming out of the Oakland punk scene of the time, they played a lot of early shows at a place simply known as Gilman.  I think that the club is still there, and if I recall correctly, they had a rule against bands with major record contracts.  So, the early bands that played there - Green Day, Operation Ivy, the Offspring, and others, would no longer be welcome.

But, his desire for adulation from the audience is something that I imagine the old Billie Joe would not have liked at all.

Green Day is a big act these days.  They don't put songs in the Top 40, and they discussed that in a recent interview with Rolling Stone when they played DC on the current tour.  But, they still have quite a following, and I was amazed at an audience of teens to 60-somethings, where every single person seemed to know every single word to every single song.  Their fans are not casual fans.  I haven't purchased their latest album, to be honest, but most people there clearly knew it well.

And musically, they just plain delivered.  The setlist from last night can be found here

They played five songs from their newest album.  They completely skipped the trio of albums before that, a set of related albums called Uno, Dos, and Tré.  The latter one is not a misspelling, but instead the stage name of their drummer - Tré Cool.  I have the first two of those albums and I have to say that they aren't among my favorite Green Day albums.  But, if you read the interview I linked to above, Mike Dirnt of the band talked about how great he thinks they are.

They played 7 songs from their classic concept album American Idiot.  They used the title song to take a good swipe at the current occupant of the White House.

They played 5 songs from their breakout album Dookie.  And, they even went back to 1991 or so, playing a couple songs from Kerplunk.

I have to admit that I wish Billy Joe had sung every word to the songs they played, rather than asking the audience to do it.

But, they played 26 songs, and in many of them, there were new arrangements that greatly lengthened the song.  King for a Day was a perfect example of this and was one of my favorite songs of the show.  American Idiot also fell into this category and was amazing.

It's rare these days to get a 2.5 hour show out of any band that isn't a jam band or Springsteen.

We had purchased lawn seats at this venue.  I hate to use the newer corporate names of these venues, but I'll make an exception here.  The venue, the XFinity Center (which will always be Great Woods to me) was not sold out.  So, every patron who had a general admission ticket to sit on the lawn was upgraded for free to an actual seat.  I'd never had that happen at a show before and it was a nice gesture.

We have tickets for one more show yet this fall - the Psychedelic Furs.  I think it will be my 7th time seeing them, moving them past Bowie to number 2 on my all time list.  Only the Dead in their various incarnations have been seen more.


Thursday, August 24, 2017

Update

Life goes on.

I'm really enjoying the time away from the hospital, although I've still had 5 medical appointments in the past 2 weeks.

One was with a psychiatrist assigned to the cancer unit at UVM Medical Center.  He manages a couple medicines for me - medicines that help me mentally to deal with disease that is trying to kill me.

One was with a therapist who I see regularly. She only sees cancer patients, and her presence in my life is impossible to measure.  There are things you deal with when you have cancer that are too much to even put on a spouse.  Sometimes, I just need to vent.  Sometimes, I need help on how to communicate effectively with someone in my life.  She is always there to listen.  Mostly to listen, but she also offers up great nuggets of wisdom at times.

I have a chemo port and it needs to be flushed periodically.  That was last Friday.  This is just done to prevent clots from forming around the lines from the port.

I had to see my primary care provider, who takes care of most of my medications, including pain meds.  A new VT law requires that I see her every 90 days now, instead of the six month schedule we had been using.  So, that appointment was required by law if I want to continue using pain meds.

And, my physical therapist, who is coming back from two knee injuries, saw me yesterday.  She is just starting to ease back into work, and I was her first patient on her path back.  I mostly wanted to talk and not put too much stress on her after all that she has been through.  She is a top level athlete in her own right, and this major knee injury has been a terrible thing for her.  Having had an ACL replaced (her injury was much more extensive than mine), I've been trying to be a supportive friend.  But, it was also nice to know that she's on the comeback trail and is up to seeing patients again.  I am sore today from the work she put me through yesterday, so I'm sure she hit the right spots.

I'm sure I'm a complicated case for her.  There just aren't many people walking around who have lost most of a core stabilizing muscle, so there are not really any fixed protocols for making this better.  She's making up a lot as we go along, based on how my work in the gym is going and how I perceive the work she gives me to be helping.

But, she's a Ph.D Physical Therapist, a smart lady, and an athlete herself.  I couldn't have a better PT.

On another note, my all time record for most CF workouts in a month is 18.  This month has 31 days and only 8 weekend days.  I rarely do CF on the weekends, so months with 5 weekends usually see me with a lower number of CF days.

So far this month, even though I've really just returned to CF, I've done 13 CF workouts already.  Today is a rest day, but I'll get number 14 on Friday.

Then, I would need four more in the last 6 days of the month to tie my all time record.  Regretfully, I have a concert next Monday and plans next Thursday, so even if I go this coming Saturday morning, a rarity for me, it looks like I'll only get to 17 days.  Still, 16 or 17 days in August, after major abdominal surgery in June, makes me pretty happy.

My goal, as I returned, was to use a 50%, 60%, 70%, ..., 100% rule.  My first week, I tried to use 50% of the prescribe weight and in some cases, 50% of the prescribed reps.  Each week, I'm trying to do a few more reps and a higher weight.  I'm currently in the 90% week, but last night, I didn't really do 90%.  It was a really tough workout:

In 10 minutes:
Run 800 meters
50 wall balls
short rest
5 heavy push presses

In 10 minutes:
Run 800 meters
50 kettlebell swings
short rest
5 heavy push presses

In 10 minutes:
Run 800 meters
50 box jump overs
short rest
5 heavy push presses

In 10 minutes:
Run 800 meters
50 push-ups
short rest
5 heavy push presses


Our Wednesday workouts have been really tough recently, and this one was no exception.  Running has been especially difficult for me on two fronts.  First, I have a lot of pain when running, even though I'm wearing compression shirts to "hold everything together".  I have some problems bringing my legs through, and catching my feet on the ground.  I'm always afraid I'm going to trip if I don't .  This is all tied to losing so much of psoas muscle, and I have to be very aware of every single step when running so I don't trip over my own feet.  This is such a change from the days when I could mindlessly crank out a 30 mile training run, and feel fine for the rest of the day.

Also, during chemo in the spring, I was anemic, and my ability to do aerobic work suffered.  Then, I had two months off after surgery.  So, over a period of six months, my aerobic capacity dropped to perhaps its lowest point in the past 35 years.  It's getting better slowly, but I'm in woefully bad shape at the moment.  My strength work is a struggle, but nothing like the struggle I face as my heart rate gets pushed up.

Each week is getting better though.  A few weeks ago, on a set of 3x400 meters, with some other work mixed in, I had to walk part of every single 400.  Last night, I opted for 600s rather than 800s.  Not 90%, but it turned out to be a good choice.  On the first three, I ran (slowly) every step of the way.  On the fourth, I walked the last 50 meters.  On that rep, every person running 800 meters finished before I could finish 600.  But, it's getting better, so I'll take that.

On the second movement in each round, I opted for 40 reps instead of 50.  Again, not 90%, but this was the correct scaling.  On the push presses, I picked a weight that I knew would be challenging on the first set, and really difficult by the last set.

The sets progressed as I expected.  I was glad to do wall balls first.  They were the toughest of the four high-rep movements.  I finished all the work in the first round in about 7:30 and I got to rest for the remaining time.

In the second round, my 600m run was about the same time, the kettlebell swings were faster than wall balls, and I got about 3:00 of rest.

In the third round, my running began to slow.  Suddenly, I was last of the entire class.  In the first two rounds, I had been slightly ahead of a couple people, but not many.  For the box jump-overs, I did step-overs - stepping on the box and then over it.  The pain in my stomach is really limiting 4 standard CF movements - running, rope jumping, box jumps, and burpees.  I noticed this week that rope jumping has improved, so that one is now less of an issue.  Running is getting better.  Burpees and box jumps are lagging.  Box jumps are the only movement that I was doing previously that I'm not yet doing at all.

In the final round, the wheels kind of fell off.  On the run, I was absurdly slow.  I walked the last 50 meters.  Compared to two weeks ago, the running was a major victory.  Including the warm-up and my scaling, I had 2600 meters of running last night, and I ran (slowly, but it was running) all but 50 meters.  Two weeks ago, going 400 meters without walking was nearly impossible.  So, even though the wheels were falling off, it's still an improvement.

The push-ups were brutal.  I think I started with 8.  Then 5.  Then 4.  After that, I did mini-sets of 2-4 with rest in between.  I got to 35 before I was forced to go to singles.  The last 5 were all done as single reps with rest.  At that point, I had used 8:50 of my 10:00.  I decided that my best chance of finishing the push presses under the 10:00 mark was to wait until I had 30 seconds left, and try to complete them all in that time frame.  I made it with about 5 seconds to spare.

I had gone into the workout sore and tired from Monday and Tuesday.  I felt some fatigue from my PT session as well - just some isolated muscle fatigue that affected a few things, running included.  I think I scaled it perfectly.  I was really hard, but it was manageable.

CrossFit truly is infinitely scalable.

After Friday, I will be done with my 5th week of my comeback.  In some ways, I'm disappointed.  I don't think I realized how much fitness I had lost during chemo.  In my first chemo, I was hospitalized for a four day infusion.  Then, I could only walk for the next 5 days or so.  But, after that, I had 10-11 days where I could train hard.  I didn't lose much fitness during the four rounds of that chemo.

The chemo this spring was six rounds.  The acute symptoms right around the infusion were less severe than the previous chemo.  But, the cumulative fatigue was far worse, and I lost more fitness than I realized during the three months of that chemo and the time period after chemo when I was still recovering.

Even now, almost 4 months after the chemo ended, I am still dealing with some side effects.  I'm convinced that the chemo made my recovery from surgery more difficult.

But, in the immortal words of Jim Valvano, "Never quit, never surrender".  That's my attitude.

And, my friends at the gym have been great.  I've been frustrated a lot.  When you have a back squat PR of 375 (done since I turned 50), and you are squatting 95 pounds, it feels pretty pathetic.  When you have a lifetime PR of 2:21 for 800 meters and you can't even run that far unbroken right now, it feels kind of depressing.  But, my friends at the gym remind me that I'm out there and I'm working hard.  They remind me that I've been through a lot.  My body has been through a lot.  I'm a cancer patient and I have a serious disease.  They remind me that most people in my situation wouldn't be out there at all, and that every single workout I do is a victory.

At times, it is frustrating.  But, I am lucky to have some great friends on my side.  Where I see "pathetic", they see "heroic".  I don't think either word is really correct, but I'm glad to still be out there.  And, I'm especially glad for my friends and my wife, who encourage me on a daily basis.  There are a lot of things I can't control right now.  I don't like that at all, to be honest.  But, I can choose to go to the gym and give the best effort I've got in me.  As a lifelong athlete, that's good enough for now.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Improving Week by Week

OK, first the obligatory whining.  It's always something.  I have noticed in my workouts the past couple weeks that running is somewhat painful.  It seems to be in the area where my psoas muscle was removed.  Wearing high quality compression gear doesn't seem to help like it did before my latest surgery.

Monday night's workout had 3 x 400m runs as part of the workout, and by the third 400, I was reduced to walking part of it due to pain.  I told my wife that I'm really glad right now that I don't consider myself to be an ultrarunner any more.  If so, this pain would be a lot more worrisome.

Also, I'm still less than 10 weeks removed from major abdominal surgery.  I'm still healing.

And, my favorite physical therapist is on the DL, after two knee surgeries.  She helped me with rehab after the first surgery that removed some of the psoas.  I'm sure she could help me this time, but she's not working right now.  Hopefully, she will be back at work fairly soon.

But, other than that issue, things are going well.

My first week at CrossFit, I accidentally trashed my legs so badly that I could barely walk for a week.  The next week, I had to change the workout on Monday to avoid squats, but I made it to the gym 4 times that week.  My plan was no more than 3x per week until at least September.

Last week, I made it 4 times again.  I've been doing Olympic lifting twice per week, which is huge for me.  For a while, I'd sort of backed off on Oly lifting.  Mobility issues were limiting my progress, and I injured my shoulder doing snatches a few years ago.  Fear of re-injuring the shoulder led to me limiting what I did, rather than adapting by changing the amount of weight on the bar.

This time, I'm keeping the weights light, and treating it as a cross between mobility work and strength work.  I'm doing the Oly lifts fairly lightly, but it's heavy enough to create some stimulus.  And, when it comes time to do full depth snatches, overhead squats, or split jerks, I'm not backing down.  I'm doing the movements as written by the coach.

Currently, I've done 11 CrossFit workouts in the past 23 days, which is about average for me when I'm healthy.  I try to average 3-4 days per week.  I usually end up averaging 3 days per week for the entire year, but I have plenty of weeks where I'm there 4 times.

I am going to miss 2 days this week due to a day off work tomorrow and a trip out of town.  But, everything is moving in the right direction.  I'm sore and I'm tired, and I have some pain, but I'm not hurt.

Each week seems better than the last.

It is a bit frustrating to finish last in every single workout.  That's just where I am right now.  I'm older than most people in the gym.  I missed almost two entire months after surgery.  I had cut back on workout intensity for a few months before surgery due to side effects from chemo.  So, I'm older than most, I'm a cancer patient, my workouts have been limited, and I'm finishing last in the workouts.

People in the gym aren't having any of my whining.  They think I'm a hero just for being there after all I've been through.  They see me working hard, and that's good enough for them.  I have to let it be good enough for me as well.

The same attitude that carried me through so many marathons and ultras is now carrying me through this.  I'm just not ready to quit yet.  I still have so many things I'd like to accomplish, and my training in the gym is essential to most everything else I want to do with my life.

Monday, August 7, 2017

How did that happen?

Last week was week #2 in my return to CrossFit.  My plan was to go on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and to go at about 60% effort.

On Monday, because of a squat workout the previous Monday, my hamstrings were very tender.  I thought I was at risk of pulling a hamstring if I squatted, so I did bench presses instead.  Then, there were burpees in the main workout, and I'm not quite ready for them either.  So, I improvised and did 3 rounds of run 400 meters followed by 10 push-ups.  I have run very little since my surgery and it's still uncomfortable, but I need to just do it.  I bought some new compression shirts last week, and I'm hoping they will help with running, and make box jumps and burpees possible again.

I was going to skip Tuesday, but somehow, I ended up at the gym and decided to do the workout.  We started out with a 21 minute "every minute on the minute" snatch and overhead squat work.  We did three different complexes, each one 7 times.  I kept the weight light and got through it OK.  Then we did 10 minutes of air squats, knee-ups, and dumbells from the shoulder to overhead.

Wednesday, I was back again.  It was our wedding anniversary and we had a dinner reservation, so we went to the earlier class than normal, and it was hot.  We were working out in some of the worst heat of the day.

This workout, despite the fact that I scaled it quite a bit, was simply one of the toughest workouts I've ever done at CrossFit.  Every five minutes, I ran 200 meters, did 3 pull-ups, 6 push-ups, 9 air squats and 5 barbell push presses.  I then got to rest for the remainder of the 5 minutes.  In the first round, the work took me 3 minutes and I rested for 2.  But, I got slower each round and it took me 4 minutes to do the work in the last round.

But, we weren't done there.  At the 30 minute mark, we started an up ladder of kettlebell swings and box jumps (I did box step-ups).  It was 3 reps of each the first round, then 6, 9, etc.  I was so exhausted from the first 30 minutes that I simply could not go straight through.  I saw some really strong athletes resting during this part of the workout, so I didn't feel too bad.  But, it took a lot out of me.

On Thursday, thankfully, we took a rest day.

On Friday, we did clean and jerk complexes, similar to Tuesday, in an EMOTM style.  Then, 8 minutes of rope jumping and wall balls.  By the time we finished, the fatigue from the week was pretty intense.

On Saturday, my wife and I got to the farmer's market early.  We shopped there, hit the supermarket, and once we got home, I spent the entire day cooking a nice meal as a belated anniversary dinner.  We had gone out for dinner on our anniversary, but the meal was disappointing.  So, I wanted to make up for that.

I had some really nice wines planned for dinner, but the entire week kind of caught up with me by the time I was done cooking.  I had been trying to stay away from pain medicine, not wanting to mix pain meds and alcohol, but eventually, the effort of the day was too much, and I needed some pain meds.  I had a little bit of wine, and my wife enjoyed some, but we never got around to opening the bottle I really wanted to drink - an Hermitage La Chapelle from 1990.  So, we saved that one for another day.

I was much happier before this cancer stuff, when I took no pain meds and I could have a drink without having to worry about the two interacting.  I simply need to be more careful these days, and I need to accept that my body can't do right now what it could do 3 years ago.  If I'm lucky with my next few scans and I keep working hard in the gym, maybe I can reverse some of this.

Monday, July 31, 2017

And now, it's been a week

It's been a week since the CrossFit workout that nearly crippled me.  Yesterday, while mowing the lawn, my left hamstring was still screaming in pain.

Later in the day, I went fishing, and I dropped an expensive box of flies in the river by accident.  I had to put down my rod and run 200 yards downstream to a slow spot to attempt to rescue the flies.  The box itself plus the flies it contained, was worth close to $400, so it had to be saved.  Amazingly, my hamstring did not complain when I was running over small rounded boulders for a minute or so.

But, today is squat day again.  And, the workout includes running.  And burpees.  I honestly don't think I can squat yet.  I might be able to jog.  Burpees are possible, but honestly, they will hurt.  My abdomen is simply not healed enough to do burpees without actual pain.  Not the normal burpee pain, but real pain.

So, I'm not sure what I can do tonight.  It's amazing to believe that a week later, a single workout still has me incapable of doing another.  And, I'm afraid that if I do try it, I may end up like last week.

We will see.  I still have five hours to decide if I want to give it a try, just do something completely different (bench presses won't hurt my hamstrings), or just go for a walk.

I'm leaning towards giving it a try, which pretty much proves that I'm an idiot.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Ouch!

I have done some crazy athletic events in my life.  Long triathlons, ultramarathons, long solo mountain hikes, etc.

Squatting on Monday has left me more sore and incapacitated than any of those events ever did.  I squatted 25% of my lifetime best, and four days later, I can barely walk.

I did 5x7 squats at 85# and 95# on Monday.  On Tuesday, I was a bit sore, but I walked 3 miles.  I'd been planning that instead of CrossFit.  I'm not planning to do CF on back to back days until early September or so.

Tuesday night, while sleeping, I woke up to go to the bathroom.  I couldn't believe how much more sore I was.  My upper hamstrings were on fire.  Getting in and out of the bed was very difficult.  Getting into the car to go to work was horrible.  And, while this may be TMI, most lifters can tell you that getting onto and off of a toilet seat can be excruciating after a tough squat session.  On Wednesday, my wife skipped CF, so I had an easy out to skip exercise.

And, Wednesday was the second day after the squats, the DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) is often worse the second day.  So, I thought I'd be fine after that day.

By Thursday morning, things were worse.  I could barely walk.  My hamstrings would seize up randomly, and despite some big doses of Tylenol, I got no relief.  I'm not allowed to take NSAIDs, so that wasn't an option.  My wife went to CF on Thursday night, so I decided to go for a walk.  Five minutes into my walk, I was really struggling.  But, it started to rain, so I used that as an excuse to bail on the walk.  Let's just pretend that there really isn't a treadmill at the gym, because that's what I did.

This morning, things are different.  The soreness has moved down to the middle of my hamstrings.  Well, the tops of the hamstrings are still sore, so we've just added a new issue.  I had to drive our car in stop and go traffic this morning, and it's a standard transmission.  My left hamstring kept seizing up on me every time I used the clutch.  It's continued to seize up all morning at work - left and right.

So, it's now been almost 96 hours since I squatted, and I'm still incapacitated.  There is no way I can do CF tonight.

I'm guessing that by Monday, I'll be able to do CF again.  It will be squat day.  I wonder how many days of rest it will take to recover from that day.

It's kind of funny, actually.  I expected this to some level after not squatting for two months.  But, I went ridiculously easy for me, and it still crippled me.  It could easily take a month before squat night doesn't inflame my hamstrings.

I said I wanted to ease back into CF, but I didn't expect it would be just one workout this week.

Hopefully, I'll get some good hiking or biking in this weekend.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

CrossFit

The things I complain about week after week continue to improve.  I'm getting by on less and less sleep, although I feel like I could always use more.  I am still taking naps at times.  My appetite continues to improve and is pretty close to normal.  I still have some night sweats, but they seem to be getting better as well.

But, the thing I'm most excited about is going to CrossFit yesterday.  Ideally, I should have waited until 2 full months after my surgery, so I'm technically about 2 weeks early.  There are clearly some things I still am not ready to do (box jumps, burpees, etc.), but I feel I can do most of the movements, with light weight.

I also do the workouts in compression shirts at times.  After losing some of my psoas major muscle in my previous surgery, the shirts seem to help with overall core stability.  After losing more of that muscle in the latest surgery, I ordered two more compression shirts yesterday.  I think I'm simply going to need them all the time for CrossFit, moving forward.

Last night we started with 5x7 back squats.  I knew that after not squatting for 8 weeks, I was going to end up being sore today no matter what weight I chose.  I chose very light weights (85 and 95 - about 25% of my lifetime best), and I'm still sore today.  Oh well.

Next, we had reverse lunges with 2 barbells in the rack position.  I completely skipped this segment of the workout.  If I hadn't, I probably wouldn't be able to walk today.

Then, a 10 minute up ladder of 3 med balls over the shoulder (50# ball) and 20 rope jumping reps.  The second round is 6 and 40, then 9 and 60, etc.  I completed four rounds, 15 more balls over the shoulder, and 33 rope jumps.  I have no idea how that compares to anyone else.  I was just glad to be there.

My basic goal is to only do CF on MWF for a few weeks.  I don't want to do 2 days in a row for a while.  I'm also roughly targeting to do a 50% effort this week, (hence the skipped lunges and the slow, steady pace for the second half of the workout), 60% next week, then increasing by about 10% per week until I'm back to going hard.  That should take me until the first week of September or so.

Today is a rainy day, so while my wife does CF tonight, I'll walk on the treadmill.  I haven't even looked at the workout for today, but I know I don't want to do it.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Update

I listed four key problems in my last post.  Four things where I really wanted to see some improvement.

First was my appetite.  In the past week, I have been eating more real food and relying less on shakes made with ice cream and Ensure.  I will admit that certain foods, especially cooked veggies, still aren't very appetizing.  But, proteins, some carbs, and salads all seem to be going down better.  On Saturday, we went to a concert in Boston and visited a fantastic restaurant called Row 34 for a late lunch.

My wife and I shared 18 oysters, I ate a very rich lobster roll, and I even helped my son finish his fish and chips.  Plus, I had a glass of wine - my first adult beverage since surgery.  While the food did seem very rich, it went down just fine and it was nice to eat such a high quality meal.  Of course, if you pay close attention, I had no cooked veggies.

Sunday for lunch, I went to Shake Shack beside our hotel and had a shake and a burger.  I wasn't surprised at all that this went down just fine.

Secondly, I was complaining about how much I was sleeping, with some nights being 14-16 hours of sleep.  I did sleep 10.5 hours on Saturday night, and would have slept later but the hotel had a checkout time.  And, I did take a 3+ hour nap that afternoon.  But, I am not sleeping as much during our commute.  I stayed awake the entire drive this morning.  Getting out of bed for work is getting easier.   And, my total sleep time is decreasing, although I was over 8 hours every night for the past 10.

Thirdly, I complained about lack of desire to exercise.  Last week, I just started forcing myself to get out and at least go for a walk.  I walked 5 of 7 days leading into this weekend, and then walked quite a bit in Boston on Saturday.  I have to admit that my back is a bit sore when walking and I'm hoping that will improve as soon as I start lifting.  It is still my goal to resume CrossFit a week from today on 7/24.

Lastly, I had complained about night sweats.  They are markedly better.  I think I've gone four nights in a row right now without changing my pajamas.  I was sweating a bit last night, but it honestly wasn't too bad.  Hopefully, this trend will continue.

So, I'm making progress in all four areas where I said I needed to do so a week ago.  That's good news.

On the other hand, I got my post-op pathology report on Friday and that wasn't such good news.  The chemos I've done have had two primary goals.  The first has been to shrink tumors to make it easier to remove them.  My first chemo did this very well, and the second showed only moderate success.  The second goal was for the chemo to kill the more aggressive and dangerous cells in my tumors, hopefully reverting the disease to a less dangerous form.  The report I got on Friday showed that this simply isn't the case, and this report showed more aggressive cell types than after my surgery in March of 2016.  This is very disheartening, to be honest.  I've sent an email to my surgeon's office, trying to get more information from him on what this really means for my prognosis and treatment going forward.  I haven't heard anything back yet.

Hopefully, this morning's thunderstorms are over and I'll get to walk while my wife does CrossFit tonight.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Slow and Steady Progress

First, the bad things, some of which are repeats from my last post:


  • I still have no appetite
  • I have no energy and I'm sleeping 14-16 hours per night on the weekends
  • I have very little desire to even go walking, much less any other exercise
  • Night sweats are still an issue


And, while it's not quite the same, I still haven't gotten out fishing.  But, that's a combo of fatigue and weather, not just the fatigue.  I would have fished this past Sunday if the weather had been better.  Part of the fishing is that I either need to fish in very low water flows if I am using any pain medicine at all, or I have to have the strength and ability to fish without pain meds if the water is higher.  We just haven't hit the ideal point yet.  I'm not willing to risk becoming a drowning statistic because I insisted on wading under the influence of pain meds or in current that was too much for my current strength.

On the other hand, my hair is growing back at a fairly rapid clip.  The hair on my head is still pretty thin but growing rapidly.  I may need to get my hair trimmed soon.  My beard is patchy, but is mostly back.  Even those annoying nose hairs are back.  I didn't miss them during chemo.  Below the neck, body hair is returning, but at a very slow pace.  This isn't really an issue or a complaint.   I think it tells me that I'm still dealing with some after-effects of the chemo, but those are fading over time.

I am gradually decreasing my pain medicine, which has been a goal.  I must admit that where the surgeon removed another good chunk of my right side psoas major muscle, I am having issues.  Just a 3 mile walk is simply painful due to this.  I am guessing that my baseline after this surgery will be a higher level of pain than before.  I'm also afraid that having lost a lot of such a key stabilizer muscle is going to have a profound long term impact on both running and lifting.  I can't imagine being able to get my full strength back for hip extension, which is needed for running, the deadlift and the squat.  And, I'm guessing that each workout will have me in worse pain now than I was before this latest surgery.  But, until I actually pick up a barbell, I can't know for sure.

I hope to get back to CrossFit at a very easy level, in 2 weeks or so.  I am already anticipating that the first month or two will be very trying.  I'm simply going to be a lot weaker than I was, and this will be frustrating.  And, it may be painful.  it will certainly be difficult.

As for the bullet points, above, I'm doing my best.  I weighed 225 or just a bit higher when I started chemo in February.  I got to 215 before surgery.  I got home from surgery at about 205 (I still haven't seen the pathology report to know how much the tumors weighed, and that's likely part of the weight loss).  But, I've dropped to 195 since getting home.  Literally no foods taste good.  My oncologists both locally and at Sloan Kettering have given me some tricks to arrest the weight loss.  I'm having shakes almost every day made with ice cream and Ensure.  That's a fast way to get in 1000 calories.  Salads taste OK, so I'm having them and putting a lot of dressing on them.  Fruits taste OK, so I'm eating them.  But, the everyday meals that I'm cooking (or that my wife is cooking) aren't very appealing.  Sometimes, I manage to eat the meal, but sometimes not.

A few people have asked me about medical marijuana and if it's helping me with my appetite.  It does help, but to be honest, I'm not using it as much.  The extra pain medicine plus the medical MJ are just too much for my brain.  I don't want to be that "altered" and when I mix the two, I do end up eating, but I also end up just lying on the couch for hours, which I'd rather not do.  I'm hoping that as I continue to decrease the pain meds, I'll take more medical MJ, and that will help with appetite.

I don't know what to do about the sleeping and energy levels.  In the past, after surgery or chemo, I was always ready to go for a walk as soon as possible.  I needed to do something every day.  I just don't feel like that right now.  According to my FitBit, I've slept 15 hours or more 4 days in the last 10.  I think the smart thing is simply to sleep when my body wants to sleep.  I came back to work a lot sooner than most people would have from this surgery, and by the time the work week is over, I think I simply need the rest.  So, I'm going with it and hoping it gets better.  I'm also sleeping on the way to and from work.  That's two hours per day (my wife drives) when I normally work or just surf the web.  But now, I'm sleeping.  I'm hopeful that as my nutrition improves, my energy levels will improve as well.

As for the walking and other movement, I'm simply forcing myself to do it.  I've walked the past 3 days right now.  I'm actually a bit sore from it, but I'll probably walk again tonight.  I don't see any reason that an easy walk for an hour is going to hurt me.  At least, I hope not.

Night sweats really suck.  I've tried sleeping with and without the air conditioner and that's made no difference.  Twice last night, I woke up and changed my pajamas.  When I go to bed each night, I am sure I have 2 spare pairs of pajamas nearby, so I can switch if needed.  I'm sure this will pass with time.  I think my wife may have joked that it's menopause, which she is regretfully dealing with full on right now.  Maybe so...

Lastly, I'm trying to be myself again.  I'm a person who prides himself on making his wife laugh.  I don't seem to make that happen very often these days.  I'm someone who finds pleasure in mundane activities, like shopping for groceries, cooking dinner, or just going out for breakfast with my wife and daughter on the weekends.  I'm trying.  I really am.  I feel like I'm doing better at work, because I feel I need to keep the bosses convinced that I'm OK.  Our company is in a funding crunch right now, and I simply cannot appear to be a weak link.

I need to harness some of the energy that my company is getting and give it to my family.  My family is more important by far, although I have my reasons for working very hard right now.  Finding a new job right now would be very challenging, and I like my current job.  So, I don't want there to be any doubt at work that I'm fit and ready to go.  As my energy levels return, hopefully, I'll divert more and more of that to my family.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Finally Caught Up

I had my staples removed this morning.  The infection had healed enough that the surgeon I saw thought it seemed prudent to get the staples out.  I'm happy because this will allow me to start walking on a daily basis for exercise.  The past week, the staples have been too uncomfortable to walk very far.  They had been in there for too long and simply caused pain when walking, unless I was shirtless, and I try to to scare the general public like that.

It's probably still 3-4 weeks before I can start any real training in the gym, so just being able to walk without pain is a big deal.  Now, if the weather would just cooperate and stop raining, it would be easier to get outside and walk.  I was hearing thunder as I typed that last sentence.

I did have a minor issue with insurance on this last trip, and my insurance company initially tried to deny paying for the surgery.  They told me this on the day of the surgery itself, although I didn't see the letter until 10 days after that.  The cost of the surgery and the hospital stay, including scans 2 days before the surgery, easily exceeded $100K.  Imagine finding out the day of surgery, when it's too late to really do anything, that your insurance might not pay.  I'm glad I didn't see the letter until 10 days later.

Apparently, the surgeon gave them a good answer, because they quickly agreed to pay, but I can't risk that they will actually refuse a payment in the future.  My ongoing health depends heavily on being treated at Sloan Kettering, and I need to make sure there are no problems in the future.  So, I am trying to have the two organizations work together to permanently resolve this issue.  Or, at least that's what I hope can happen.

Today, I resume seeing my therapist.  She is  wonderful lady who only sees cancer patients, and I really enjoy the time we get to spend talking.  But, other than seeing her and getting my chemo port flushed periodically, I am hoping that I'm not going to see many doctors until October.

In the next month, these are changes I hope to see that will tell me my surgery and chemo are  behind me, for now:


  • Hair returns to my body.  It may end up being white or greyer than it was, but at least it should grow back.  Right now, I swear that I look 10 years older than I did just 2-3 years ago.
  • My appetite returns.
  • I get back out on the river fishing,
  • I get back to doing CrossFit.
  • My fitness improves and my resting heart rate decreases.
  • The night sweats end as my body continue to recover.
  • I return to the level of pain medicine I was using before surgery.
  • And, most importantly, I find myself smiling and having fun on a daily basis.


Then, hopefully a clean scan in October, and it's on to ski season!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Coming Home

The very last part of discharge from the hospital is medications to take with you and discharge instructions.  They always seem to take forever at Sloan Kettering.

At the time of discharge, my prescription for pain medicine was 10-15mg of oxycodone every 4 hours (as needed).  When they handed me my prescription, it had the same instructions.  But, the bottle contained only 20 pills - 100 total milligrams and the label said it was a 3 day supply.  This was not the first time that they had given me way too little pain medicine on discharge, and rather than argue, I decided to just get out of the hospital and then talk to my surgeon's office the next day about the issue.

I had arrived at the hospital with about 50 x 5 mg of oxycodone, so I knew I had enough in total for 3-4 days, so I wasn't too worried.  The discharge nurse immediately recognized the discrepancy and gave me a 15mg dose just before I left.

As I left the hospital, because I was alone, the hospital had to follow some protocols closely.  I had limitations on how much weight I could pick up, and they didn't want to turn me loose into the streets with a suitcase and computer bag.  If I'd had a problem, they would have been responsible.

So, I was wheeled to the exit in a wheelchair.  From there, security called a car service - twice the price of a normal taxi, but with better service, including handling your bags for you.  It took a while, but I was finally free.

I got to my hotel and tried to just lie down for a while, but things were different.  After almost a week in an infinitely adjustable hospital bed, it was nearly impossible to get comfortable in a regular bed.  I finally found a comfortable position and slept until the pain medication wore off and the pain woke me up.  By now, it was 6:00, and I decided to take some more pain medicine and look for some dinner.  Regretfully, in two laps of the local block, absolutely nothing looked good.  I finally settled for some shrimp pad thai, and to be honest, it was basically the worst pad thai I've ever had.  I ate half a dozen bites before giving up on eating.  I'm amazed sometimes at some of the restaurants that survive in NYC.  On my last surgical trip, I had a pizza delivered and it was honestly the worst pizza I'd ever had.  How can a bad pizza place survive in NYC (and how did it get 4 stars on Yelp)?

After that, I got my bags ready for the trip home and got ready for some sleep.  I'd found a single position on a regular bed that was comfortable, and I had to get into that position and simply not move or I'd end up in pain.

I watched a TV special about the Lakers-Celtics rivalry from the 1980's as I dozed in and out of sleep.  It's a really good short series that ESPN did, and I learned a lot about that storied rivalry - stuff that we would know in the internet era, but was never really well known in the 1980's.  Finally, a dose of pain medicine about 10:00 put me off to sleep.  I woke up about 2:30 to take some pain medicine and again at about 7:00.  At 7:00, I took some more pain medication and decided to get myself ready to leave for home.  I had plenty of time with an 11:30 train, but I didn't want to risk missing the train, which would have forced me to change my destination from my hometown to Albany instead.  Going to Albany would have meant a six hour drive for me wife, so missing the train was just not an option.

I was in a cab by 9:30, and it took almost an hour to cover a mile or so to Penn Station.  The traffic was crazy and my so was my cabbie.  He was so aggressive and obnoxious that another driver deliberately hit him part way through the trip, after my cabbie cut the other car off very badly.  For a while, I was afraid I'd never make the train on time, and I was certainly glad I'd opted for the early start.

Finally, we got there, and I looked for some coffee and something that I could eat on the train later in the day.  Regretfully, no food sounded good (a problem that persists still), so I just went with coffee.

My train was a bit late, but I finally got on board and settled into a seat.  From here, I knew I had an easy day.  I opened my laptop and for the first time in a week, and I started working.  It honestly took the majority of the day just to catch up on e-mails.

Around lunchtime, I was hungry, but the only food in the bar car that sounded appealing was peanut M&Ms.  So, my lunch was that plus water.

Early in the afternoon, I got a phone call from my surgeon's office, just checking up on me.  I told the NP that I talked to about the problem with the pain medicine prescription. She said that it was a gross error, and offered to get me a prescription in Vermont.  However, the two states (NY and VT) have very different rules about pain medicine scripts.  In NY, everything is electronic.  In VT, everything must be done on printed and watermarked prescription paper.  We were unsure how to get a script from NY to VT.  So, I told the nurse that I'd talk to my primary care provider the next day to see if she could help.  It turned out that she was out of the office the next day, but the physician covering for her took care of everything for me, and pain medication was no longer an issue. I could write pages about this process and the issues I've encountered the past few years.  As a cancer patient, I have an easier time getting pain medications than most patients do, but the current backlash against opiates makes it tough for many patients to get medications they need.  Not every patient gets addicted, and in some cases, opiates are the correct medication for the situation.  I honestly worry that even as a cancer patient, the day will arrive when appropriate pain medications will not be available to me.  To be honest, that scares me more than the cancer itself in some ways.

Bit by bit, we made progress towards home.  We ended up being a bit late, but I was off the train in my hometown by 7:15.  We made it home in a few minutes and I immediately changed into pajamas.  As I changed, I decided to weigh myself.  I was at 205.

When I started chemo in February, I was at just over 225.  When I left for NYC, I was at 215.  My appetite still has not returned, and this morning, I was at 199.  I recently read an article about weight loss in patients with advanced cancers (and I'd be foolish to try to pretend this isn't an advanced cancer) and how even overweight patients tend to fare more poorly if they lose weight due to treatments.  Right this minute, my lack of appetite and ongoing weight loss are my biggest concerns.  I am positive that a lot of the weight loss is muscle mass because I can't lift weights right now.  In my opinion, my ideal weight is about 190-195 pounds, but that's with some decent muscle mass.  Hopefully, as I start training again next month, my appetite will be stimulated by exercise and I can re-gain some lost muscle mass.

I've now been home for 9 days.  Bit by bit, the pain has been getting better and I'm taking less and less medication.  I can sleep in more positions now, although some positions are still uncomfortable.  I've even had a couple nights where I slept through the night without pain waking me up.

I am dealing with night sweats, which are unpleasant at times.  They are especially unpleasant on hot, humid nights when we are using the air conditioner and I manage to soak through PJs to my sheets.  Between my wife dealing with menopause and me dealing with these night sweats, there are lots of times where one or more of us is awake at night.

I did end up getting an infection in my incision, which had never happened before.  Originally, the staples were supposed to be removed last Thursday, but the incision started to drain some nasty pus and blood, and the skin got very red and swollen.  I've been on antibiotics for a week now, and the staples are finally scheduled to be removed tomorrow.

This has been a problem because surgeons do not like to remove the staples from another surgeon's work.  Initially, I was sending photos of the incision to Sloan Kettering on a daily basis, and they were going to write a letter authorizing the removal of the staples at the two week mark.  But, the infection has made them a bit gun-shy about writing such a letter.  I honestly think that they would prefer that I make a trip to NYC to have them removed, and I won't be surprised if that's a requirement in the future.

Luckily, a local surgical oncologist got my records yesterday and has agreed to do this work.  I'm almost surprised that he agreed to do it, because I chose the surgeon in NYC over him for my surgeries.  I simply wanted the surgeon more experienced with liposarcoma, but I've had some surgeons take things personally when I selected someone else over them.

After the staples are removed tomorrow, I am hoping that our weather finally turns more summer-like (not in the forecast, regretfully), so that I can start walking on a daily basis until the point that I can start lifting weights again.  I hope to be back at CrossFit within the month if all goes well.

And, I'd like to return to fly fishing as long as the water levels are low enough that wading feels safe.  I know I'm not at 100%, so I need to be careful about wading right now.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

On to Surgery

Wednesday was a very low key day.  I had to do a bowel prep, and I also worked remotely from NYC.  My wife spent the day doing low key things around the city, mostly trying to avoid our cramped room and giving me some room to work.

By 6:00 p.m., the bowel prep was mostly done.  My wife was back and I was starving.  There were a few things that I was allowed that would take the edge off the hunger, so we headed out, looking for some bone broth and some frozen fruit juice popsicles.  This took longer than I expected to find, but we were finally successful.  And, by 8:30, my wife and I were in bed, watching the Warriors vs. the Cavaliers on TV.  I was dozing off, but kept waking up to see the Warriors gradually increasing their lead en route to a 3-0 series lead.

Morning, as it always does on a surgery day, seemed to arrive extra early.  I was allowed 12 oz. of black coffee, and I was very happy about that.  We got some coffee, I took some meds (including pain meds and anti-anxiety meds) and started the walk to the hospital.  We were due at the hospital by 10:00 and we got there maybe 15 minutes early.

Regretfully, my surgeon's first case of the day lasted longer than planned, so we waited for hours.  I tried to relax and just doze, rather than thinking about what was in front of me.  Finally, around 2:00, I was escorted to the OR.  I remember that it was freezing in the OR.  And then, I had some gas and I was asleep.  It's great to get knocked out so quickly, so you aren't awake as you are intubated and have a catheter inserted and have a number of IVs inserted.  I slept through all of that plus the surgery.

The next thing I remember is being somewhat awake, although I couldn't really see anything.  I could talk and hear but my vision seemed to be non-functional for a while.  The nurses in PACU got me some blankets to warm me up, and after a while, they brought my wife into the room.  She told me that surgery had gone well, with one little issue, and that the surgeon was happy with the outcome.

We spent the next couple hours trying to get my pain under control.  For me, Fentanyl just doesn't seem to work very well.  Just like the previous surgery, escalating doses of Fentanyl did not knock down the pain.  I reminded the anesthesiologist that I tend to do better with Dilaudid than Fentanyl, something I'd told him before surgery, so they switched over and we got the pain under control fairly quickly.

I was also informed that the hospital was way overbooked and that I'd be spending the night in PACU rather than in a room.

At some point, the surgeon stopped by.  I don't really remember it, but he gave me a rundown.  All the new tumors were gone with good margins, but he'd had to remove a fair amount of the colon and a lot of what was left of my right psoas major muscle.  I was immediately concerned about needing a colostomy bag, but he said it was nowhere close to that.  I will have to see how this loss of muscle tissue plays out in the gym in the future.  I needed a few months of physical therapy after losing part of the muscle in my previous surgery.  The surgeon also said that he'd been unable to remove the tumor that was irradiated last December.  The tissues were too fused together, and he was afraid of damaging the inferior vena cava or the duodenum, and so he took segments of the tumor, but not all of it.  However, he considered the tumor to be quite dead from the radiation and he said he had no concerns about leaving that tissue behind.

I slept fitfully that night, dealing with pain and constant vitals signs checks from the nurses.  The next morning, I was finally transferred to a room on the 15th floor of the main hospital, where Dr. Singer likes his patients to be housed.

From there, the primary focus was the healing process.  The doctors wanted me out of bed and walking that first day, but I firmly declined, saying that I'd gotten out of surgery late the day before and I simply needed to rest that first day.  Surprisingly, they didn't really argue with me.  The doctors' biggest concern was my heart rate, which was sitting at 120-130 - way too high.

The next day, we did an x-ray and a CT scan (both very painful due to how I had to move) to see if we could isolate the cause of the tachycardia.  Other than some distension in my intestines, nothing showed up.  They briefly considered an NG tube, which I very much did not want, but eventually decided that I should just be up and walking as much as possible.  So, I got up and in three different sessions, I walked 20 laps around the ward.  I could feel air passing from my stomach as I did this, so I was hoping this would help.

Over the next few days, I increased my laps to 65 and then 70 and then 102, and my heart rate gradually decreased.  Overall, I was surprised that I seemed to be recovering faster than my previous surgery.  I was taken off the PCA button (Patient Controlled Analgesia) earlier than normal, although this did happen a bit too soon and I lost control of the pain for 24 hours or so.  They finally upped the dosage of oxycodone and this resolved everything.  I had a bowel movement faster than my previous hospitalization, despite having lost a good chunk of colon.  I was then allowed to start eating simple foods - frozen fruit juice, jello, broth, etc.

The surgery had been on Thursday, and I was expecting to be in the hospital until the following Thursday or Friday.  I was surprised when they used the word "discharge" on Monday.  It turned out that Tuesday was way too early to go home, but they did schedule discharge for Wednesday.  I got out of the hospital late that afternoon and headed to a hotel for the night, planning a train ride home the next day.

I'll write more on some post-discharge "issues" later.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Heading towards surgery

On Tuesday morning, the 6th of June, my wife and I walked the long walk to Sloan Kettering.  My day was going to start with a CT scan.  I was a bit disappointed to have the dietary restrictions that I had, given that it was my wife's birthday, and I would have loved to taken her out for a nice breakfast, but food and abdominal CT scans don't work together.

The first thing that Sloan Kettering wanted to do was draw blood to determine my kidney function.  This is essential to get the correct dose of IV contrast dye - an injected material that is tough on the kidneys, and I only have one kidney.  But, I'd just had a serum creatinine test in VT, and asked them if they'd accept that test.  They said if I could forward the results to them, they'd be happy to do that.  I was able to use the UVM Medical Center patient portal to pull my prior result and forward it to the nurses at Sloan Kettering, so I saved myself one needle stick.  Given how the next week would go, one needle stick saved was essentially meaningless, but I was glad to do it.

I was disappointed when they refused to use my Power Port for the contrast injection.  Part of the reason for getting a power port was that they can be used for CT scans, but I apparently needed some paperwork with me in order for them to do that.  So, one needle stick saved and then I had to have an IV rather than use my port.  Net zero.

After the scan, we had a couple hours to kill.  I was able to get some coffee and my wife got some breakfast, but I have to admit that I was too nervous to eat.  I got within days of this surgery in February, when a CT scan showed new tumors, and changed the direction of my treatment.  Although I'd had a decent response to the gem/tax chemo, it hadn't been overwhelming, and the possibility of new tumors or larger tumors really had me scared, even this late in the process.

As usual, Dr. Singer was late, but while we waited in his waiting room, I got to meet an online friend face to face for the first time.  We are both on a Facebook group called Liposarcoma Survivors, and she was one of the few people I'd friended outside of the group.  Her appointment was before mine, which cut our conversation short, but it was really nice to meet her in person.

Finally, about 90 minutes late, we got in to see Dr. Singer.  His office days (he's only in his office one day per week) must be exceptionally long.  His first appointment for the day is at 7:30 or earlier, and he falls so far behind schedule that he must work until at least 7:00 in the evening.  This is one of the things I love about him.  He is a world-renowned specialist in an orphan disease, and he never shirks what he has taken upon himself.  I think he knows that an entire community depends on him, and he goes out of his way to be sure he gets to every patient.

He didn't have much to say this day.  I have to admit that didn't make me feel super optimistic.  He still wanted to move on to surgery, but we spent a fair amount of time discussing the healthy tissue I would lose along with the tumors, to ensure that he got clean margins.  He is always up front about this, and I have permanent numbness in my abdomen and right quadriceps due to his surgeries.  But, I've never had something like this show up without prior warning.  So, I always have the information I need to back out if the side effects seem too onerous.  Of course, one of the side effects of no treatments is rather dire, so I always proceed to surgery.

After our appointment, I had to go upstairs for my final pre-op testing.  This is getting routine for me here - my third time through the process.  And, about 5:00, we were free.

This gave us just enough time to head to our hotel, get cleaned up, and walk to db Bistro Moderne, where we would celebrate my wife's birthday.  That day's dinner had two benefactors.  My wife's co-workers had given her $300 in Visa gift cards to celebrate her birthday in the city.  And, one of my blog readers and a good friend from high school (if anyone remembers my night in the Waldorf Astoria a year ago, it's the same friend) had offered to treat us to some really nice wine at dinner.

We have eaten at Daniel Boulud's flagship restaurant, Daniel, way back in the fall of 2000, right before I ran the NYC marathon.  We'd been warned that the Bistro was quite expensive, but we were pretty shocked by the prices.  This restaurant is best known for its foie gras and truffle burger, that sells for $35.  At that price, it was far from the most expensive entree on the menu.

Because of my friend's generosity on the wine, we started with 2002 Bollinger RD, one of my wife's favorite Champagnes.  It listed for $315 on the list, but we were really shocked a few hours later when it showed up on the bill at $479,  This was quickly corrected.

The Champagne was amazing - everything an RD should be and we sipped it slowly as we looked over the menu.  My wife opted for a torchon of foie gras to start and it was an absolutely amazing dish - the best dish of our trip.  Because I'd had foie gras the night before, I went with a lobster salad, which was nice but lacked a bit of excitement.  Just a little bit more lemon or maybe some sherry vinegar would have brightened it a bit.

For entrees, my wife went with Steak Frites, while I went with Coq au Vin - two bistro classics.  Both were done exceptionally well, although mine was rich beyond belief.  By now, we'd finished the Champagne and my wife had a glass of red wine while I'd decided I'd imbibed enough.

For dessert, my wife ordered some Madeleine's, while I passed.  What my wife didn't know was that I'd informed the restaurant it was her birthday, so she got a personalized dessert on the house plus the Madeleines.  The latter became breakfast with coffee the next day.

Finally the bill arrived, it was pretty outrageous.  Even after we got the error fixed on the wine price, it was still almost $700 with tip.  How can a restaurant be considered a bistro with prices like that, I wonder. However, thanks to the generosity of friends, the meal cost us less than $100, which made me worry a lot less about the price.

As we walked back to the hotel, I knew I'd eaten my last meal for about a week, but it had been a good one.

That's enough for today.  Tomorrow, I'll write about the pre-surgery prep day and the surgery itself.

Friday, June 23, 2017

On the mend

I haven't really thought about doing an update here for a while.  I got a card from a friend yesterday that mentioned my blog, and I suddenly tried to remember when I'd last done an update.  I didn't check until today, but it's been a while.

When I last posted, our trip to NYC was getting close.  We had no problems there, and the first part of the trip, with our kids, was a lot of fun.  The kids weren't crazy about the tiny size of their hotel room, but they weren't paying any of the bills, so they were stuck with it.  The rooms, in their defense, were small, but the rooms were clean and comfortable.  I will definitely use the Pod Hotels in the future for travel to NYC.

We got to the city on a Saturday night and walked to our hotel.  From there, we used Yelp to help find a place for dinner.  We ended up at the Park City Tavern, and our meal was fine.  In some ways, it was the least interesting meal we would eat in the city, and we still managed to spend over $200 for 4 of us.  But, there was nothing wrong with diner; it simply wasn't great, and in NYC, at the prices you pay, I have very high expectations for restaurants.  I'd probably give it 3 stars on Yelp, but  I haven't bothered to review it.

On Sunday, we got up relatively early, got some coffee and breakfast and then walked to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  It quickly became apparent that we had different interests and different speeds of moving through the museum, so we would split up for a while, meet up, and then split up again.  We managed to stay busy right until the Museum closed at 5:30.  Everyone would have stayed longer if we could have done so.

Outside, it was raining, so we waited under cover for a while.  When it became clear that the rain was with us for a while, I finally got us a cab to Columbus Circle and we walked to Rosa Mexicano by the Met for dinner.  I'd eaten there twice before, and thought the family would love the authentic Mexican foods to be found there.  Certainly, no one complained and plates were emptied, so I think everyone had a nice meal.

As we left the restaurant, the rain had ceased, and our hotel was almost a straight shot on Broadway.  We used this as an excuse to walk off dinner, but also to see all the sights on Broadway that my daughter had never seen before.  We even made it to our hotel room in time to see the Warriors pull away from a close halftime score and take a 2-0 lead in the NBA finals.

On Monday, I worked remotely, while my wife and kids visited lower parts of Manhattan - mostly Little Italy and Chinatown.  They had a fairly relaxing day after being on their feet all day the day before.

That night, we ate dinner at craft restaurant, and it was just amazing.  I was somewhat torn on dinner here this night.  A friend and blog reader had very generously offered to pay for our dinner.  But, my kids, despite being college aged, know their way around a high priced menu pretty well, and my wife and I are veterans of fine dining.  I knew the meal was going to get expensive.  Part of this is the nature of the restaurant we'd chosen, but part of it is simply the love of fine food that we all share.  The meal started with some foie gras (that one was my fault), a salad and some Champagne.  It was the first time I think I've ever seen my son have a drink in a restaurant like this, and he seemed to enjoy the Champagne immensely.  I had purchased just a half bottle of the Champagne, but it was gone quickly.  From there, my wife and I drank wines by the glass.  Bottle prices are simply prohibitive here.

After that, entrees included halibut, steak for two of us, and quail.  All entrees here were a la carte, so we added some wild mushrooms, some grilled spring onions, a potato puree, and a risotto.  I had to laugh a little bit at the risotto.  The owner of the restaurant is one of the judges on the TV show Top Chef, and while the risotto was good, it would have failed badly on the TV show.  Every characteristic that Tom Colicchio uses to fault risotto was present here.  So, while we enjoyed the flavors, we wondered if the owner of the restaurant would have approved of the dish.

By now, you'd think everyone was stuffed, but everyone seemed to find something for dessert.  Some of the choices included semifreddo, donuts, house-made ice creams and a classic souffle.  And, for my wife and me, a nightcap.

We never saw the bill from the evening.  But, from my friend's reaction, I know we ate better, or at least more expensively than he'd anticipated.  This made me feel a bit like a freeloader, although I promised to make it up to him one night after skiing next winter.  Maybe I'll cook for him and his family and open some nice wines from our basement as a a thank you.

After dinner, we walked back to our hotel and everyone said goodnight.

The next morning, my wife and I were up early, as I had medical appointments all day  And, with the medical part of the trip looming, the kids were heading home.  Somebody needed to rescue our poor dog from the kennel and that fell to the kids.

I'll write more about the medical stuff and a very nice dinner for my wife's birthday next time.  The vacation part of the trip is easy to write about.  The medical part is way less fun.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Hard to figure out my workouts

On Tuesday, I was coming off three rest days where I'd slept a lot.  My two previous CrossFit workouts had gone reasonably well, so I was optimistic.  And then, I really struggled the entire workout.  We started with front squats and then back squats.  I did OK on them, although I kept the weight very light on the higher rep sets.

Then, our metabolic conditioning piece was 10 minutes long, a blend of rope jumping, very light deadlifts and shoulder-to-overheads (this can be strict presses, push presses, push jerks or split jerks - however you want to do it).  I honestly rested for at least 5 of the 10 minutes we were supposed to be moving.  I simply couldn't catch my breath.  I am probably still slightly anemic from the chemo, but this was more than that.  It could be fatigue caused by the cancer itself, an ongoing side effect of the chemo, or maybe something else.  My fitness has definitely decreased since I started chemo in February, so maybe I'm just not fit.

But, the end result was frustrating.  On a day I expected to have a good workout, I had anything but.

When I looked at the scheduled Wednesday workout, I wasn't happy.  Our Wednesdays have been hard recently and I expected that.  I didn't expect to have 80 or more burpees in our 40 minute workout.  We started with 10 bar holds (knees up as well) in the first ten minutes.  Then, 4 minutes alternating burpees and kettlebell swings.  Rest one minute.  Repeat the 4 minutes.

Then, 10 minutes of 2 push presses per minute.  Then, rest a minute.

Then, 4 minutes of burpees and wall balls.  Rest a minute.  Repeat.

I've really been struggling with burpees recently.  It's a whole body movement that requires a lot of oxygen, which I'm struggling with.  Also, my side, where the cancer tumors are located, is not happy when I do them.  They basically create some pain in my abdomen.  And, from the rep schemes, the minimum number of burpees was going to be 80.  My wife ended up doing about 100.

So, I spent most of the day planning to skip the workout.  Eventually, it occurred to me that I didn't have to do burpees.  I could change things and still get a good workout.  I decided on 16" box step-ups instead of burpees.

I went to the gym.  Still nervous after the day before.  I survived the warm-up.  Got my equipment set up.  And, I got started.  And, for some reason, my moderate effort - sort of a slow, methodical approach - worked just fine.  It wasn't easy, but I got through the workout without feeling like I'd been run over by a truck.

I have no idea why Wednesday, a harder workout than Tuesday, went so much better.  I'm just glad that it did.

Today is a rest day.  Tomorrow will be my last CrossFit workout for a while - possibly six weeks or so.

And, on Saturday, I head to NYC to start the process for my surgery next Thursday.  The surgery is only a week away right now and my anxiety levels are climbing.  Open abdominal surgeries are never trivial and this surgery could last up to six hours.  I will be in the hospital, recovering, for at least a week.  There will be a lot of pain involved.

Next Friday, the day after my surgery, at some point in time, a cadre of nurses will descend on my room.  Their goal will be to get me up and walking.  It will hurt like hell, but they won't take no for an answer.  The walking gets better each day.  I understand why they want me to do it.  In just a few days, I'll be walking multiple miles around the floor each day.  But, that first walk is terrible.  Having a Foley catheter is unpleasant.  Well, the catheter isn't a terrible issue.  It's having it removed that I don't like.  Sometimes, it just feels weird.  Other times, it can be truly painful to have it removed.

So the surgery is getting closer.  But first, I have a few days to hang out with my family in NYC and enjoy the city.  We have some nice dinner reservations and plans to visit some museums.  I'm just going to walk a lot, enjoy the time with my family, and not think about the surgery, if that's possible.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Still a bit tired

I made it to the gym on Monday, Wednesday and Friday last week.  The latter two workouts were the best I've had in awhile, but they left me exhausted for the weekend.

On Saturday, my wife and daughter and I had a bar mitzvah to attend in Saratoga Springs.  It was a great chance to see some friends that we don't get to see often enough.  In between the ceremony and the celebration that evening, our friends invited us to hang out at their house for the afternoon.  But, the tiredness won out and I napped all afternoon while my wife and daughter went shopping.

That evening, we left the party before it officially ended.  In the past, with these friends, I would have always been the last to leave, but my body just isn't there right now.  I do think that my wife is enjoying my abstinence from alcohol.  She is our designated driver more often than I am, but these days, I do most of the driving, allowing her to relax and have more fun at times.

On Sunday morning, we slept in and then checked out of our hotel.  We went to a nearby Mexican restaurant that my daughter loves, and I simply couldn't eat.  I sat there while my wife and daughter ate.  This is happening to me more and more often these days, and it's similar to when the cancer first made its presence noticeable in my life.  If I have some medical MJ, I'm hungry and I eat just fine.  Otherwise, I have zero appetite, and often, the only thing that tastes good is sweet foods.  I've now lost about 15 pounds since my chemo started, and the weight loss has been accelerating.  If I wasn't ten days away from surgery, I would be very concerned about this, but with the surgery coming up next week, I think I can put up with it for a little bit longer.

I dozed on the drive home and then took a real nap when we got home.  I woke up at 6:00 p.m., realizing that I had to mow the lawn.  It was supposed to rain all of Monday, and I had no other time to mow before we leave for NYC.  The lawn was a bit wet, but I managed to get it mowed.  It will be a couple weeks until it is mowed again, and my poor wife will be mowing that time.  It might be a couple months before I'm on the lawn tractor again.

After mowing, I managed to eat some dinner and we watched episodes 3 and 4 of Twin Peaks.  To be honest, I think the medical MJ enhanced both of those experiences.

On Monday, I slept in late again.  Napped in the afternoon.  I basically did nothing, to be honest.  I got 14 hours of sleep between the night of sleeping and the nap, so I'm guessing my body is still not recovered from the chemo.  Or perhaps these are effects from the cancer itself.  Either way, I was tired and I didn't fight back.  I just went with it.

I was almost happy when I had a hard time sleeping on Monday night.  I was hoping it meant that I'd slept all that my body needed.  This morning, I didn't sleep in the car on the way to work either - another thing I've been doing recently.  So, maybe my 37 hours of sleep over the weekend (according to my FitBit) were enough.

I'll find out at the gym tonight, I suppose.  My goal for this week is to do CrossFit on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday.  That last day will be my last CrossFit workout for six weeks or so, so this is my last chance to get any real training for a while.  For the first month or so after surgery, I will be limited to walking and maybe the stationary bike.

My previous post was about gratitude.  Since I made that post, my wife and I have received two more wonderful gifts.  One was an offer of a dinner in NYC from a skiing friend who reads my blog.  He even suggested a restaurant that I've wanted to visit in NYC for a long time - Craft Restaurant.  Well, he suggested two places, and I think that I picked the more expensive of the two.  I'll be sure to stay away from the ribeye for 2 at Craft - a $150 entree.  If I felt 100% healthy and I was paying for this myself, that would probably be something I'd like to try.  But, on someone else's dime, there are plenty of other great options there.

Also, my wife's co-workers gave her a gift to pay for dinner on her birthday, which is two nights before my surgery and the night after our kids head back home.  So, we are going to try one of the top bistros in the city - db Bistro Moderne.  In 2000, two nights before the NYC marathon, we had dinner at Daniel, one of the top restaurants in the city.  It was an absolutely amazing meal, despite the fact that I had a cold and couldn't taste everything properly.  The bistro is owned by the same chef - Daniel Boulud, and we are looking forward to our dinner there.

For both of those meals, I may need a little bit of my medication to make sure my stomach is in the mood to eat.  After the dinner on my wife's birthday, I won't be eating again for over a week, so I'd better make that last meal for a while a good meal.

So, we are headed to NYC on Saturday.  I am, of course, nervous about the surgery portion of the trip.  There are so many reasons that surgery is unpleasant.  Catheters, the early extreme pain, experience of "coming to" from general anesthesia and feeling that post-op pain for the first time, the compromised breathing, and the nurses who force you to get up and walk while you still hurt like hell.  I've been through it enough times to know what to expect, and I'm not looking forward to it.

But, thanks to some charities and some friends, we are going to have a really fun few days in NYC before the surgery, and I am very much looking forward to that part of the trip.  The rest is simply something that I have to do, and I will get through it the best that I can.

I remain filled with gratitude that we have the support and friendships that we have.  I know other people afflicted with this same disease, who have gotten no support from spouses, parents, or siblings.  I've gotten nothing but love from the people I know, and every bit of it is appreciated more than people can realize.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Gratitude

This post is really an extension of something I wrote on Facebook yesterday.  Here is the post that I made there:

"Never in a million years would I wish a rare cancer on anyone. But, I have to say that I've seen some of the most generous and kind acts from friends and acquaintances over the past couple years. It's easy these days, especially from a political point of view, to lose faith in each other and in the innate kindness of people. All I can say is that I've seen so much kindness in the past couple of years that I could never repay it all. I'm trying to pay it forward when I can, but this illness has really restored my faith in how we treat each other as fellow humans. Even little gestures can mean a lot; little things that may mean nothing at all to the person who does them can mean the world to me at times. The bigger kindnesses leave me awestruck at times."

So, my daughter had requested to come along to NYC for my next surgery.  I'd like to think that she wants to be there to support me, but in reality, I'm pretty sure she would just love to make her first ever trip to the Big Apple.  And, I'm OK with that.  My kids are 19 (my daughter) and (almost) 24 and they have their own lives, their own goals, their own dreams.  Their lives should not be consumed, as mine has been, by liposarcoma.  I think the same of my wife, but as the spouse, she is stuck with it all.  And, I say that light-heartedly, knowing that she is glad to be by my side most of the time.  On occasion, when the anger escapes from my mouth, her thoughts might be different.

Anyway, my wife mentioned to a co-worker that she'd like to take the kids along on a trip to Sloan Kettering as additional support for me.  That co-worker must have mentioned it to the bosses, because her company and her company's parent company, offered us some money to take the kids along.  The thing is, while they meant well, the amount of money they offered was way less than it costs to take the kids.  But, they meant well and I would never be anything but grateful when someone offers to help.

For everyone to go to the big city, we need to board the dog.  We need four RT train tickets.  Two hotel rooms per night rather than one.  And, at this time of the year, NYC is simply crazy expensive.  All of my overnight trips to NYC for this cancer have come in the November-March time frame, when travel is less expensive.  This is prime season and hotel rates are very high.

People at our gym held a fundraiser for my wife and me late last winter.  The purpose was to help with our travel expenses to Sloan Kettering.  We used about 60% of that money for a series of trips in November, December and January, but we still have $2K left.  So, I told my wife that we'd find a way to make it work and take everyone along.

To be honest, even though I agreed to this, I had (and still have) my concerns.  My company is not doing well financially, and I could lose my job this summer.  This is not exactly an ideal time for me to be looking for a job.  So, we are at risk there.  Our medical debt from the past 4 years or so is staggering.  So, money has been tight.  I bought a new fly rod recently, but unlike in the past, where I could simply do something like that, this time, I sold another of my fly rods to pay for the new one.  We are sort of living like the federal government talks about at times.  Every new expense needs to be offset by some savings somewhere else.

Yet, and this continues to amaze me, things all just kind of fell into place.  I can't explain it, I'm not sure I even want to know, but a grim situation has simply turned around, and it's all working out.

I mentioned to my therapist recently that we wanted to do this and how I didn't want to disappoint my wife and children.  She asked me if I knew about a fund at the University of Vermont Medical Center to help cancer patient with financial issues.  I knew nothing about it, so she gave them my name.  The next day, I had a phone call to talk about things.  And then, they agreed to pay for our train tickets.  All four of them.  No paperwork or anything.  Just a little bit of history, our plans for the trip, and the money gets allocated.

I was really struggling with hotel rooms.  My normal destination, the hostel at the Upper West Side YMCA, was booked solid.  It wasn't a matter of paying full price of $120 for their dorm-like rooms instead of the normal $60 rate I get.  They had no rooms at all.  Most of the hotels that Sloan Kettering works with were full or nearly full.  The best I could find for the rooms we needed (9 total rooms over 6 nights) was close to $3K.  When I had been expecting to pay one quarter of that, this was very disheartening.

I did find that a sister property of one of those listed by Sloan Kettering has cheaper rates.  Not cheap, but cheap enough by NYC standards.  Our rooms for the week would be $2107.  Not nearly as cheap as the YMCA, but not $3K either.  Or, one of the hotels had offered to put all of us into a single suite.  For $4K per night.  We passed on that one.  So, for a price that exceeds my mortgage, I was able to find some rooms for us.  They were crazy expensive to a country boy who lives in VT, but I've been assured that I got a great deal for Manhattan at this time of year.

I mentioned this cost to the social worker I was working with at Sloan Kettering.  She mentioned a patient assistance fund that they have, and told me how to apply.  Only my personal expenses can be reimbursed, but any help would be welcome.  I told her that I thought it wouldn't work.  Our income is high enough that I thought it would be too much.  But, when she asked for our household income number, she insisted we apply.  Our income might exceed the average here in VT, but it's a pittance compared to what it costs to live in NYC.

My wife filled out an extensive form last Thursday.  I remained sure, given our total income per year, that we would be ineligible.  But, they really look at your whole financial picture, including debt, and especially medical debt.

I gave them the completed form on Friday morning.  Monday morning I was informed that I'd been approved for the program.  We talked about what expenses were specific to me - my room, my food, etc.   I had been honest that train tickets were already covered and I didn't try to double-dip on that.  By yesterday afternoon, Sloan Kettering had agreed to give us another $827.

So, we suddenly have well over $2K in new funds - from hospitals and employers.  I had no idea that funds like this existed.  Add in the remaining money from our fundraiser, and we can easily afford to take everyone to the city for a few days.  My wife's birthday is during this trip, and I'm hoping we can get out for a nice dinner on her birthday.  Two days before surgery, this would be a great way to celebrate.

We are going to send the kids home right before my surgery.  My wife has enough to worry about during the surgery itself and the immediate post-surgical recovery.  We decided it would be an additional stress to have to worry about the kids during that time.  But, they get three nights in the city before my surgery.  We have some plans to visit museums, walk a lot, and eat at a few of the nicer (but affordable) restaurants that I've found on my prior trips to the city.  I am going to work remotely for part of the trip, and I think my family has plans to visit the Village, SoHo, Little Italy and Chinatown.  In one day.  I wish I could go along on that day, to be honest.

We are even going to try to get same day tickets to see the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.  My son and I saw a live broadcast of his old show, and people think it would be fun to see him again.

I'm not a religious person.  I'm not a praying person.  I'm not a believer in karma or other unseen reasons that things happen.

Yet, right this moment, I'm amazed at how this has all happened.  An idea was hatched, it was honestly too expensive, and then it all somehow worked out.

Hopefully, good news like this will extend right through my surgery and recovery.

And in the interim, I am full of love and gratitude to the point of giddiness.

The universe can be a cruel place.  I have too many friends with cancer at the moment to not see that cruelty.  And at the same time, there is so much goodness out there that leaves me awestruck.  I'm reminded of some lines early in the movie American Beauty:

Lester Burnham: [narrating] I had always heard your entire life flashes in front of your eyes the second before you die. First of all, that one second isn't a second at all, it stretches on forever, like an ocean of time... For me, it was lying on my back at Boy Scout camp, watching falling stars... And yellow leaves, from the maple trees, that lined our street... Or my grandmother's hands, and the way her skin seemed like paper... And the first time I saw my cousin Tony's brand new Firebird... And Janie... And Janie... And... Carolyn. I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me... but it's hard to stay mad, when there's so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, and it's too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst... And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can't feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life... You have no idea what I'm talking about, I'm sure. But don't worry... you will someday.


While I don't buy into the mysticism that Lester refers to here, I do see beauty in the world.  I don't understand why things work the way they do.  I don't know why I get to be the kid who gets the weird cancer.  But, just like the Facebook post that opened this blog post, or the quote above, I'm amazed by the beauty I see in the world.  Cancer may kill me eventually, and I would never say that getting cancer has been a good thing.

But, I have learned so much from having this disease.  I've learned to see the world in a completely different way.  And, gratitude.  I'm so full of gratitude for the life I've already lived, and for the little things that keep falling into place.  

I'm an unlucky man.  At the same time, I'm a very lucky man..

Monday, May 15, 2017

Sleep Comes Down

If anyone can possibly guess where the title of this post comes from, I'm not sure what the prize should be.  I'd suggest that I could offer my 12" vinyl version of the Psychedelic Furs' song Sleep Comes Down, but I don't want to part with it, to be honest.  And now, I've answered the question.

SLEEP!!!

That's all I do any more.

I slept almost 80 hours last week - almost half of the week.  I had one day where I only slept 8 hours.  Over this past weekend, I slept 29 hours in a 39 hour period.  I did sneak out fly fishing for about 4 hours on Saturday.  It was fairly easy fishing, yet it took so much out of me and I took a 4.5 hour nap to recover from the fishing.

Today is 2 weeks since my last chemo session.  The last time I went 3 weeks without chemo, I couldn't stay awake that third week.  I'm hoping that's not the case this time.  I'm hoping this is the week that I turn the corner and start to see some improvements in my mental and physical capacity.

With the chemo over, and surgery in 24 days, I really want to be in the gym, training as much as makes sense.  I think this will help with my surgical recovery as it has in the past.  So, no matter how tired I feel these coming weeks, I'm going to try hard to get to the gym or get out walking with the dog.  Right this minute, I've done one half-assed CrossFit workout in the last 9 days and nothing else.

Fishing isn't exercise.  Mowing the lawn (from a tractor) is not exercise.  Cooking dinner isn't exercise.  And, napping for 1-6 hours at a time is most certainly not exercise.  I am honestly amazed that anyone can tolerate this chemo and still live anything resembling a normal life.

Regretfully, an acquaintance in CA is just starting this chemo for the same reason that I did it, and I think I've scared her with my stories about fatigue.  I certainly hope things go better for her.  She is doing this in a more traditional method - every 3 weeks rather than 2, and a Neulasta shot between every round.  I hope that gives her the energy to thrive through the next few months.

Otherwise, there is nothing new.

I still can't seem to catch a fish to save my life.

I'm working on my travel plans for my surgery.  Working.  And, napping whenever I get the chance.  I never imagined I would be a person capable of sleeping this much, much less wanting to be asleep this much.

But, this is a different chapter of life and things are just different right now, I suppose.

For now, I will just go with the flow.  I know the fatigue will start to fade soon.  My anemia will resolve.  My other blood test results will start to trend towards normal.

And then, just as I start to feel decent, they are going to cut me open.  But, right now, I have 24 days to get ready for that event, and I plan to do that the best I can.