Wednesday, December 22, 2010

No 40 yard dash for me

I regularly try to make it up to 24 Hour Fitness to get in some exercise. I realize how important it is to keep these old bones moving in this battle with my noma. But it is difficult on a couple of different levels.
  1. Physical state. Not only does my body not want to cooperate I would actually rather just stay in bed. My anemia has left me feeling drained and depleted. I regularly get dizzy just from standing from a seated position. Naps sound like a splendid idea throughout the day. I have lost a little bit more weight and my appetite just doesn't seem to be cooperating and allowing me to put the weight back on.
  2. Psychological aspect. Here I am in a gym, surrounded by people sweating and grunting and pumping iron. There are quite some physical specimans there and they could easily give a person in much better condition than me a complex. But even those people don't get to me like the ones I see on TV. Like every other gym, the place is full of flat screen TVs and I gravitate towards the ones with ESPN on them. There you see athletes of all sports, be it football, basketball, soccer, tennis competing at such high levels. Amazing fine-tuned athletic machines performing at stratospheric levels. I glance at a football highlight and there is a video of a wide receiver catching a pass and running at full speed towards the end zone. And I wonder what it feels like to run full speed. I haven't run at full speed for probably about a year. I miss it. The best I can muster is a slow jog around the gym. Five laps is about all I can manage before it feels like my heart is going to imitate a scene from the movie Aliens and come leaping out of my chest. It shouldn't be like this. I shouldn't be like this.

My dad recently threw out his back lifting something that he shouldn't have been lifting. He has had, or should I say is still trying, to come to terms that he simply can't do what he used to be able to physically. But it is hard for him to do, as I imagine it is for people of all ages to admit physical limitations. However, for me at 39, it feels even more wrong. I should be able to do more. I wish I could do more. I long for the days when I could run at top speed.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Last Friday I had another biopsy done down at MD Anderson. As I mentioned in a previous blog this was done to get some more tissue for them to test to see if I qualify for a clinical trial. The biopsy came off with out a hitch. In fact I was more awake during this one than I had been for my previous two. I got a call today saying they have my tissue slides ready and they are going to send them off for the test. I should know by late next week if I qualified or not. What a wonderful Christmas present that would be.

Not much else going on right now other than that. My days are pretty normal and boring. I am fatigued a lot. By 3 in the afternoon I just want to lie down and take a nap. Don't know if this is still related to the anemia or not. Doesn't help matters that I am writing this at 10:51pm. Still trying to work out in some fashion every day. The work outs are not long and they are not complex. Just trying to get the heart rate up a bit and put a little stress on the old body. The neuropathy is still pretty bad in the feet and so that limits me on how long and how hard I push myself.

I have really come to enjoy my lunch dates with friends. I have always been an introvert and done quite well at spending time by myself. Working by myself was never a problem either. Matter of fact, I kind of enjoyed it. However, there seems to be a slight shift going on. I find myself not enjoying sitting around the house by myself. It has become harder and harder to drag myself up to work knowing that I will be alone there as well. I don't feel like I am sitting around moping or feeling badly about my situation or anything like that. I just find myself looking forward to the outings and how they break up my otherwise solitary day.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Switching seats

Yesterday I got to participate in an experience that as of lately seems to be very rare. I got to go to a doctor, but not as the patient.

My wife is experiencing some extreme pain in her upper left shoulder. All signs point to a pinched nerve, but it is hard to know for sure. After enduring 5 days of high level pain she finally decided yesterday to bite the bullet and go see a doc even though we highly suspected that they would just tell us what we already knew. So about 4:30pm, I drive her to Care Now (we have come to love the convenience of these clinics over our family practictioner) and enter a process that I have become all too familiar with lately: fill out forms, nurse checks vitals, wait for the doc in a small examination room, and get examined.

But this time I got to sit in the "support" chair. I was there, not as the patient, but as the one who gives moral support and encouragement. I didn't have to hop up on the exam table. I didn't get interviewed. I didn't get poked and prodded. It was nice. Don't get me wrong. I am very sorry that my wife is in pain and that we had to go to the doctor in the first place. But being in the "support" chair was a refreshing change of view. I relished the chance to be the caretaker instead of the sick one and I enjoyed the role swap even if it was for a brief moment.

There was another emotion swimming around in me also, though. Again, while I am sorry for my wife's pain, I experienced a certain joy that I wasn't the only sick one around. My wife and I shared something in common. We were both not feeling well. I had somebody to commiserate with, somebody on my team. The doctor even prescribed the same medicine that I am taking for pain. Granted, our illnesses are completely different, but for a moment, I didn't feel special - called out from the crowd because of some extraordinary characteristics. I realize that may sound sick, that I would take joy in somebody else's pain. But it gets hard on a guy being the only sick one in a family. You get tired of being "special" under circumstances like this.

And it will be a brief moment indeed. This Thursday I head back down to MD Anderson for some tests and then ultimately for another biopsy on Friday. Looks like I will be hopping back onto that exam table real soon and back to my familiar view of loved ones in the "support" chairs.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Feeling a little better

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving I was down at MD Anderson and received an injection of radioactive isotopes. No superhuman powers, but I do believe the isotopes are doing their job. I am still on the pain medication, but I feel that my overall pain has decreased. There have been some side effects: mostly nausea, dizziness, and fatigue. Some of my fatigue can also probably be attributed to being close to anemic.

According to the stats, the average expectancy of pain relief from the isotopes is about 4 months, although there have been cases reported of it lasting over a year. I am hoping for the year route. It is a treatment that I can repeat down the road if the pain returns.

I also met with a researcher at MD Anderson regarding my potential participation in an upcoming clinical trial. They needed my permission to run some tests on my biopsy sample to see if I would qualify. The tests came back "uninformative," which means they need to do another biopsy they can run tests against. Apparently a very small percentage of people qualify for the clinical trial (3 to 4% of those tested), but those that do qualify, 80 to 90% have shown very encouraging results. So I have agreed to have another biopsy in hopes that I will be able to participate in the study. I have yet to hear back about when the biopsy will take place. Prayers about the upcoming biopsy and that I would qualify for the study would be greatly appreciated.