Monday, June 20, 2005

Long Time, No Post

Well, it's just about three weeks since the great RPLND took place, and I am slowly matriculating into the normal world again. The trip is not without occasional bumps and stutters: I had a sneezing fit last night and thought I was surely going to die, as I know my stomach had ripped open and my insides spilled out.

I've transitioned from Vicodin to Ultracet so that I'm OK to drive again, and I drove to my Board of Directors meeting on Saturday. It was a local trip, and the meeting lasted about 4 hours, which I seemed to tolerate well.

I got Dr. Foster's notes from the operations and confirmed what I had suspected - they had to severe a bundle of nerves that were tied up with the tumor, so I have a bit of nerve damage in my left thigh. Not sure if this is permanent; others who have been in a similar situation say that the tingling will go away after a couple of years, but that's just anecdotal evidence.

I had another one of the church RNs come by and pull the staples and apply the Steri-Strips. The incision is healing nicely, although when I went to the cancer box this morning for blood tests one of the nurses who obviously has a scab fetish picked off a bunch of my scabs. OW!!! Supposedly it will make for a nicer looking scar, but with as much chest hair as I have (and it is coming back with a vengeance), pretty soon you won't be able to see a scar anyway. I'll try soaking in a bath tonight to get the rest of the steri-strips and scabs off, hopefully in a less painful fashion.

I head back to Indiana next month for a follow up visit, then the rest of my care should be handled locally from then on. I'll have regular blood tests and x-rays, as well as the occasional CT to make sure that no teratoma comes back (so I get to keep on chugging those berry-flavored, yet earthy, barium shakes - whoopee).

I had Sarah shuttle me around this afternoon to pick up various medical records so I can put together a packet for the FAA and get my butt back into the air (naturally, the club plane is in the shop due to a little fender-bender, so there won't be any flying happening for the next couple of months anyway).

That's the way things are right now. I'll check back in a few weeks, unless anything new pops up.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

My SpongeBob nightshirt, made by my mother-in-law on Saturday morning. I think it took her all of five minutes or something.Posted by Hello

With Mom & Dad (and Maggie's dog) in my room .
This is Wednesday, the morning after sugery. Posted by Hello

In surgery waiting Posted by Hello

Saturday, June 04, 2005

A humbling experience

Wow. It's Saturday morning, less than 4 days after major abdominal surgery, and I'm not in the hospital.


Apparently I've been blessed with a body that recovers well from surgery. When Dr. Foster came by to see me on Wednseday afternoon, he did a bit of a double-take, surprised that I looked alert and in good spirits. By Thursday afternoon he and his team of doctors-in-training had decided it was time for me to go home. I was released Friday morning (early afternoon if you include us being held hostage by the hospital pharmacy while waiting for my at-home meds) and we drove to St. Louis that afternoon. I sat in the front seat and got out to walk around every chance I had. There was a ongoing contest between me and Sarah's mother, who has gone through a knee replacement and back surgery in the last couple of years, as to who could walk the fastest. It was like tortise racing.

Here's the tale of the tape (because guys like to compare lengths on everything):

Incision length: 11 1/2 inches
The incision begins about an inch below the bottom of my sternum and heads south, detouring to the left around my navel, and ends just below my waist line.

Number of staples: 37
The 1/4 inch staples will be removed in a couple of weeks and replaced with steri-strips, another fabulous 3M product. I have the staple remover and steri-strips in a bag given to me by IU, so I suppose we could do this on our own if we REALLY wanted to.

It's really amazing to me over the past couple of days how my mobility seems to have increased drastically just by the passing of time. Last night I was able to roll from side to side in bed with little difficulty or discomfort. This morning I hardly needed to push off of anything when working my way out of bed. Thanks to my friend Marjorie for her breathing advice; it has certainly been a huge help.

I'm on Vicodin for pain, along with Colace to help "keep things moving" while I take the pain meds. According to the docs, once I'm off the pain meds, I can return to driving provided that I can stomp on the brake pedal and turn my head from side to side. The only other restriction is no heavy lifting for 6 weeks.

So, what's next? It would be a bit premature to say I am "cancer-free" at this point, since there is a possibility of future recurrence (that is, there may still be cancer cells that aren't big enough to be picked up through blood tests or scans). For my particular brand of testicular cancer (non-seminoma), the greatest risk of recurrence is in the first two years after treatment is completed. But from a practical standpoint, that's the way I'll be treated over the next several years - as if all the cancer is gone and we're just checking to see if any has tried to make a comeback.

Meanwhile, my mother-in-law is calling upon all her sewing skills to make me a Sponge-Bob extra-long night shirt, so I can go about the house without wearing anything that has a waistband that presses on the incision (yes, that includes underwear). I will definitely be the height of fashion for a while. If you come to visit, I promise not to cross my legs when I sit.

Thanks to everyone for their love, prayers, support, and advice. Stay tuned for future updates - maybe we'll have to change the name of the blog to "Vinny Had Cancer"...

Thursday, June 02, 2005


Lab work looked good. Teratoma and necrotic tissue so pre cancer and dead cancer which means chemo did its job so the surgeon could do his job better.

Everything seems to be progressing on a good timeline.

Broken Link

Hey, I don't know about you, but when I read my seester's post I immeadiately clicked on the link so I could pester my bother-in-law in a new way. Alas, the link was broken.

I think this one should do the trick. This one right here.

Near as I can figure if you look on the upper right side of the screen, there is a place where you can register. Click there, fill out the form and then you should be able to send Vinny emails.

Ok... now I've tried it... once you register, I don't think they make it super obvious how you email a patient, but you beautiful people have me to help overexplain thus making your lives easier.

On the furthest left column under Clarian Health, there is an link to Billing and Online Tools. Once you click on that, the new page has the option to Email a Patient.

And the last thing is... he's at Indiana University Hospital.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Indy is a beautiful town

Eureka! I've found an internet connection in the bowels of the basement of the IU hospital. After all the planning and bringing the lap top, wireless seems to be nonexistent in the places we've been (or cared to be) over the last two days.

Gosh, has it only been two days? Maybe tomorrow I'll feel like going to IU library and seeing if they have wireless.....

Frank *is* doing very well. The adventure to K-Mart last night was to get 100% grape cranberry juice. We succeeded and managed only to see two groups of police cars w/ lights flashing, talking and whatnot to the locals. (However at lunch today Mom and I watched a guy get handcuffed and searched. I said, 'Wow, I hope this isn't a trend.' She said, 'I see this sort of thing all the time.' Where has this woman been hanging out???? ;-) )

Frank's parents headed home this afternoon. It was very good to have them here. He/I/We love them so much.

He has been up in the chair twice today and took a lap around the floor. While *I* am able to transverse the bowels of the basement of the hospital, his bowels alas are not moving yet. That will be the key to him getting to leave the hospital. Tomorrow (Thursday) will be a big day as the dressing and all tubes will be removed, allowing him to move about the cabin--er hospital room--at will. If you are inclined to pray, you may feel free to pray that he will fart freely. Did I just say that? It doesn't need to go on the church prayer chain or anything, but you all know what I mean, right?

Dr. F will be by to see Frank later this afternoon. As soon as I finish here I'll go back up to the room. If you are able, please send him an email through the hospital’s site (I can't print anything). It is not too painful to register and he'd love the mail.

As for the city: The night before surgery he and I took a walk to Canal at the White River State Park that is down town. Think RiverWalk in San Antonio, but w/o all the commercial gee-gaw and restaurants. It is very nice. The last time we were here it was the middle of chemo and winter. It seemed like a dark, dingy town. With leaves on the trees and the streets not black from the cinders having been laid down for cars to drive in the ice/snow, it is a pretty town. Maybe we might comeback just to look at all the public art!

Please keep my friend Lynne in your prayers, her father has cancer and only a few more days of life left. She and family are traveling cross country.

Thanks seester for all you are doing for us.

Peace, The Rev.

Insanity as Diversion...

Last night I called seester to see how things were going, doing the whole checkin' in thing. She answered the phone with, "Hey, we're in the process of getting lost... here's mom, she'll make you laugh".


So mamacita gets on the phone, "We're not getting lost, we are lost" (chuckles from The Dad heard in the background) "We're trying to find a KMart and your sister refuses to stop and ask someone. I mean, we keep passing people that I think look like KMart shoppers, but will she stop? Nooooooooo." (more chuckles and muffled speech from The Mom and The Dad, apparently in the back seat... oh, by the way, these are Vinny's parental units). My mamacita continues, "The Dad noticed that there were quite a lot of cops in the park we just drove through but your sister wouldn't stop to ask them either......... well, The Mom did notice that there were several people in handcuffs next to the cars so that was probably best."

So here I am 6 hours by car and 2 hours by plane from my seester who has apparently been kidnapped by well intentioned retirees. I've decided that they are using insanity as a way to keep my sister's mind off of Vinny's healing process...

Did they find KMart you ask? Yes, the last words I heard before my mom hung up on me were, "There it is... look every day items are 70% off today!"

Attention KMart shoppers, insanity is currently on bluelight special.

Oh and they did mention that Frank seems to be doing well.