The Bucket List

“I suppose it’s like the ticking crocodile, isn’t it? Time is chasing after all of us.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

“We live, we die, and the wheels on the bus go round and round.”
The Bucket List

“I don’t have a bucket list because it is my dedication to live every day of my life there. I don’t have a bucket list because I’m doing it that day. I don’t want to go to bed and say, ‘Oh, I wish I had done this.'”
Melissa Etheridge

We all know what a bucket list is. We fill this mythological bucket with all of the things we would like to do before we die. Most people continue to fill the bucket even though it is full without ever actually doing anything about it. Some people poke holes in their bucket, giving up on some of their dreams because they don’t seem attainable. The goal for everyone is the same however. Empty the bucket before having to kick said bucket.

Those who closely follow me have noticed that Brenda and I have been traveling to a lot of places and seeing a lot of interesting things. Some of my friends have even uttered out loud that it looks like I’m working on my own bucket list. My observant friends would be correct. I’ve done a pretty good job of emptying that old bucket too, although to be honest, mine was never that big. The reason for that being that I have done a lot of things throughout my life, not waiting until I received bad news. I owe a lot of this to my wonderful wife Brenda. Before we met, I had a very small circumference in which I traveled. Brenda taught me that there is a whole world out there and you should try new experiences. You never know what you may discover and actually like. I may have never traveled on a plane, a train, or an ocean liner and discovered the different lands and beautiful seas that cover this world of ours. It’s shown me even more how awesome my Creator is.

I guess what I’m trying to say is to not wait until you have too much on your list and not enough time to do them. Live now. Enjoy things to the fullest now. Make every moment special so that when that day does come, you won’t have a bucket list, but a treasure chest of memories.

A health update:
My last visit to Philly was about as expected. Some of my numbers moved a little, some a lot, and a few nearly doubled. In other words, I’m not getting better. The past couple of weeks have been a mixed bag. I’ve had some good days (which I am eternally grateful for), and some bad. I seem to be having more bad than good lately. I am continuously taking nausea meds as well as my pain meds for the sometimes sharp pains from my liver. Poor Mr. Liver….he’s put up a good fight but I’m not sure how much more he can handle. Subsequently, I will not be posting with the frequency that I had been. I have already started taking longer to post any updates as most have noticed. This is partially because of my health and partially because I am traveling a lot and spending time with my family.

As an aside, please don’t write a eulogy for me yet. I know you mean well, but you have no idea how this affects my family members as well as myself.

Finding Chemo

Marlin: If this is some kind of practical joke, it’s not funny, and I know funny. I’m a clownfish. (Finding Nemo)

I don’t know where to find a fairy godmother at this late hour.
Giselle (Enchanted)

My last scheduled appointment for chemo in Philly wound up being a mixed bag of nuts. I was supposed to go into the center, meet with the nurse, and then begin my three days of chemo. After meeting with the nurse, we decided to set up an appointment with the quality of life people (ER), the doctor, and the wound specialist (doctor Sal. If all doctors had his personality the world would be a much better place). My incision from my April operation just won’t heal (thanks doctor Crocket). Once everyone took a gander at my wound, the consensus was to stop the chemo and send me home with some anti-biotics and clean and dress the wound daily. They all believed it would heal from the inside. This was the first time that all my numbers took a positive turn so I was very disappointed that I was going to miss a chemo session.

We wound up leaving the very next day which turned out to be good seeing as how we had a engagement party to throw for our son that weekend and we were going to have a house full of people.

We did as the medical staff instructed with the incision. As Dr. Smith from the old tv show “Lost in Space” used to say, “Oh the pain, oh the pain.” After the second day we began to get worried. The incision had re-opened and was deeper. It looked like an inch deep hole in my stomach. We knew we were going to come back to Philly that following Monday for an evaluation on how the wound looked. If it was better, I could resume chemo. If it was worse, they would have to do surgery which would keep me from getting my chemo treatments for who knows how long. And just when things seemed to be getting better on the cancer front for once. Needless to say this would be a big setback.

Thankfully however, the wound began to close the next day and by the day after that it looked a lot better. We had the party (I wasn’t feeling too well but I made it through ok) and it turned out well. Everyone seemed to have a good time. We caught a plane to Philly on Monday, which as I’m writing this happens to be today, and after my blood work was done I saw the first of my medical team. Dr. Sal thought the incision looked much better and he believed I could resume my chemo treatments. Dr. Jensen agreed with Dr. Sal and so all that was needed for me to resume my treatments is to get the ok from my oncologist. Unfortunately he was booked up and can’t see me until Tuesday afternoon. So that’s where I stand as of this writing. Odds are I will get back on track tomorrow and won’t have to be searching for my missing chemo treatments anymore. Who would have ever thought I would look forward to getting back to those nauseating treatments.

The Changing Face Of Chemo

“Life belongs to the living, and he who lives must be prepared for changes”
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.”
― Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

The truth is you don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow. Life is a crazy ride, and nothing is guaranteed.
Eminem

My trips to Philly seem to always be fraught with drama, be it dealing with a surgical wound that won’t heal or passing out on a bus. This latest trip however seemed to be devoid of such shenanigans….almost.

Our trip began early on Tuesday morning, and by early I mean the roosters would peck your eyes out if you woke them that early. Getting up at 4:30 am to catch a flight is not my idea of fun. Me and the roosters are simpatico on this. We arrived in Philly where we were taken from the airport straight to the cancer center where we stayed until we finally were able to go to our hotel around 8:00 pm. A very long day. The remaining days were non-eventful.

Now my chemo sessions have pretty much gone without incidents. There are a lot of side effects that can occur but so far I have been pretty fortunate. My hair has thinned out considerably but then I had so much to begin with that I still have a good bit left, although that could change at any moment, I still get tired after the four to five hour sessions and a little nausea can sometimes kick in. This time however, the chemo kicked my butt. I stayed nauseous the whole time I was in Philly. Thankfully the center has good drugs so I was able to somewhat manage the nausea. This third round also gave me a new side effect, acid reflux. I found that I could not stop hiccuping and belching. The belching was the worst especially at night. I had a couple of incidents that first evening after chemo that I will not go into detail here but needless to say it woke me up several times. The nurses at the center said that this can be a side effect of the drugs I’m taking sometimes. So now I take Pepsid to counter the reflux.

It amazes me how chemo’s side effects can change every session. Just because you don’t experience a certain side effect one week, doesn’t mean it won’t zap you the next week. Chemo kills everything, the good and the bad. The longer you are on it the more effects you can wind up experiencing. Unfortunately this is a necessary evil because of the things chemo can do to many forms of cancer. Many more people are surviving cancer than ever before. Those of us battling just wish some doctor could come up with a treatment that can be as effective as chemo with a lot less serious side effects.

On a good note, all of my numbers from my blood work are either better or stable, including those associated with my poor little liver. So I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.