I’m One Of The Doctors

Each pill is a specialist. Two (I alternate) are for nausea, one helps my stomach digest food more efficiently with enzymes and the last one no one wants to hear about. Seriously, you don’t.

Creon retails at over $8 per pill. I take 3-4 a day.
At the moment I’m taking four different medications for stuff going on in my stomach–all adverse reactions to treatment. The cure is chemical.

Each pill is a specialist. Two (I alternate) are for nausea. One helps my stomach digest food more efficiently using enzymes. The last one no one wants to hear about. Seriously, you don’t.

A few are taken at meals. Others every four hours. One is as needed, up to eight times a day. It’s confusing.

Do they interact? Yes. Therein lies the rub. Interaction has brought a new problem, also unmentionable.

I have a fairly good understanding of the dosing involved. Now I’ll start adjusting schedules until the pills and my stomach are happy together.

I don’t expect my doctors to do this. I’m not sure how they could.

Oh — and pills are expensive. I’m not sure who pays list price, but Walgreen says my insurance saved me $838 on the last one alone. My end was $13 and change. When I can I get my pills from the insurance company’s mail order pharmacy which usually has zero copay.

A few months from now my medical obligations will fade away. I’ll be in observe and report mode with regular testing. Medical intervention should slow down, maybe stop. Until then, I’m one of the doctors.

You Know That Healthcare Thing?

Dear America —

You know, the healthcare thing that got shot down today because far right Republicans couldn’t agree with moderate Republicans? There is a way to get a better deal than what Obamacare is now.

COMPROMISE!

Bring in the Democrats. Make a deal. No one said Obamacare can’t be better.

There are 192 Dems. You don’t need to convince every one, just thirty or so. On the other hand, there is no compromise from the Freedom Caucus (aka Tea Party), the Republican’s most conservative faction.

Our nation’s history is filled with bipartisan compromise. It’s part of our nation’s strength.

For a few decades I helped negotiate the union contract at Channel 8. It’s a difficult job I’d never want again.

In the end both sides compromise to make a deal they can live with. No one gets exactly what they want, but both sides are invested in the outcome. And it’s tougher to be a dick in a face-to-face negotiation than it is in a press release.

As Important As My Doctors… Maybe More So

he vast majority of my treatment has been below the physician level. I see nurses and therapists and technicians who are the nuts and bolts of my treatment much more often than the doctors they work for. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for taking care of me.

Ask about my cancer and it won’t take long before the subject moves to care. No complaining. My care received has been excellent even beyond my amazing outcome.

Compassionate care makes all-the-difference. Remember, these are the people I’m trusting to hurt or even wound me in the name of medicine! I need to trust they’re on Team Geoff.

I traded emails with Nicole, physician’s assistant to my oncologist, yesterday. At this level of care I have easy access to him through her. My email was about Creon and all the commercials I’m seeing for the Neulasta patch. At the end I wrote:

To your last point — the care I’ve received in the Hoag system has been incredible (plus the USC Treatment Center). Every medical professional has been kind and caring. I need to trust you to allow you to hurt me — and I do. Knowing I’m being served by people who care makes it easier.

Not such a big deal. I told her I appreciate her and her colleagues. She replied:

Wow! In 15 years, I have never heard it put in those exact words before…..
But what you say is so true.

Early on and with Helaine’s encouragement every medical professional we’ve dealt with has been personally told of our gratitude for their work. I want them to know. I want to encourage them to always be this way.

The vast majority of my treatment has been below the physician level. I see nurses and therapists and technicians and phlebotomists, the nuts and bolts of my medicine, more often than the doctors they work for. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for taking care of me.

A License To Eat

Think of it this way. I’ve been given a license to eat anything, any quantity, any time and not gain weight! And they say cancer has no upside.

Before cancer I weighed close to 200 pounds. This morning I was 164. The last time my weight was in this ballpark I was worried about the SATs.

When people look at me they’re astounded I had cancer. I’m slim and trim with good color. By my own admission I am the least cancery cancer patient ever!

The problem is last week I weighed 168. We went to Vegas where I ate like a human. It wasn’t enough. I need to be grazing all my waking hours to maintain my weight.

I know why. First, the distance between my mouth and tush was surgically shortened by the Whipple surgery. Food spends less time in me and I receive less nutritional benefit.

Second, I am the proverbial greased goose. ‘Nuff said.

Think of it this way. I’ve been given a license to eat anything, any quantity, any time and not gain weight! And they say cancer has no upside.

All this can be fixed pretty easily with medications like Creon, which I’m about to try. However, there’s something to be said about staying thin.

See, guys worry too.

I Am A Tough Guy

My walk through McCarran Airport

I am a tough guy.

There’s no way I would have said that seven or eight months ago, before pancreatic cancer. It’s nothing I thought I was. However, as they say, shit got real.

Recuperation seems to be in my wheelhouse. I’ve smashed most medical benchmarks. If a doctor said two weeks, it was three days. Stronger, faster¹.

Again, this is a major surprise. There is nothing which led me to believe any of this was likely… much less possible.

My stomach is still in upheaval. Instead of 80% upset it’s 80% calm. There’s still that 20%.

The most frustrating part of my recovery is physical weakness. Recently I’ve averaged 11-12 hours a day in bed. It shortens my day–too short already.

I run out of energy like a little kid. Much of the ability to pace myself is gone. Chalk this up to 28 days of radiation and Xeloda. As I detox this should ease.

Yesterday was a test. From the curb to our gate at McCarran was around 3,000 feet (thank you Google Maps). That’s a kilometer carrying one bag and dragging another.

Improvement continues.

¹ – I have written this sentence “Stronger faster,” “Stronger, faster” and “Stronger. Faster.” Each seems to have a grammatically correct use. Each looks wrong, including the version I’ve used. My English teachers would be happy this perplexes me in 2017.

Daddy, I Am You

My dad and me in Milwaukee

My dad and I just spoke. We didn’t connect this weekend. This morning was a ‘make good.’

Radiation continues to kick my butt hard affecting my stomach and stamina. Only four more days of treatment then a week or so for my system to reconstitute itself. Eight weeks of chemo follow (which I tolerated well before) and donezo.

My dad and I talk about hospitals and treatment because it’s a subject we have in common.

“Geoffrey,” he began, “when you check in the hospital and they greet you by name you know you’ve been there too many times.”

My father is a schmoozer and a flirter. He has a joke or story for any occasion. You can’t be in his presence and not know who he is.

And with one poorly working eye and essential tremors every younger woman is attractive. And, basically, at 91 every woman is younger. Stef makes sure I remember his former primary care physician, “looks like Ingrid Bergman.”

Friday, as I left the “Rotisserie of Death,” I stopped to say goodbye to the radiation techs, AnnMarie (head nurse), Jessica, (dietician) and the three young women at the reception desk.

I paused as I walked out the door. Holy crap, I’m my dad.

“Daddy, I am you,” I told him Friday evening on the phone. He laughed.

You really don’t get to pick your role models. It just happens. I lucked out.