WELCOME!

Binvenidos! Bienvenue! Benvenuto! Willkommen! Aloha! Irashaimasu! ようこそ! Welkom! Selamat datang! ברוכים הבאים! Velkomen! Witajcie! वेलकम Bemvindo! Dobro pozhalovat'! Ласкаво просимо! Mabuhay! أهلا وسهلا! Maeva! Yin dee! Isibingelelo! Croeso! Bine ai venit! Witamy! 歡迎!Maligayang pagdating! Vítejte! ยินดีต้อนรับ Fáilte!
For first time readers...my journey begins here: THE VERY FIRST BLOG POST (CC1)

Meaning of life

"The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away." ~ Pablo Picasso

Friday, August 31, 2007

The Book - Reflections



I thought I would give you a glimpse into the first Chapter of my book. It will be awhile before it's completed, since I only have 100 pages so far. I wasn't sure if I should continue because I didn't know if people would find my adventures interesting enough. This blog along with the wonderful comments and emails I've received have helped me see that there are many people that can grow, learn, and be entertained by my life experiences. So, I push on in hopes to better the lives of those who find interest.

REFLECTIONS

Effortless this used to be, traveling to exciting destinations and losing myself to new adventures. A restless night as usual this one begins. A chauffeured car arrives to whisk me away to the port of planes. As much of my life has been, this venture is with the privileged. Increasingly more grueling with each day that passes, this one no different. Ever since I was told I would die, living just gets harder.

First to board I sit comfortably against the soft supple leather. Drinks offered and pleasantly accepted. In flight I look down upon the Earth and ponder. I often lose myself amongst the clouds as they roll by. But this time it’s different.

The clouds float like cotton balls suspended in air so peaceful and serene. The ground below reminds me of when I was a child, playing with my matchbox cars in the dirt. I’d build roads and homes and highways. Always progress, and if it rained there was a large roll of construction paper, 4 feet wide to satisfy my never ending need to design and build. I’d draw, always green full of life, lakes and rivers flowing blue.

But today I don’t see the world as I did when I was a child. The world has aged and so have I. It stares back at me, the surface below. Wisps of brown surround the cotton and no hint of blue in any of the water. Brown, almost dead, and I begin to lose myself in the sadness. I remember the first time I flew as a First Class passenger so many years ago. It wasn’t as many would expect. It was one of the hardest moments of my life with many more to come. It was due to the death of my father. This thought spins the cotton into a tapestry of my life and I begin to reflect.

At the ripe old age of 22, I was finishing up my last year of college when my father asked me, “What are you going to do with the rest of your life?” A question every good parent must eventually ask. I guess it’s time to figure that out. At this point, in High School I’ve been the editor of the school newspaper, photographer for both paper and yearbook. I set up my own private darkroom in the school to make that easier. I had a lead in the senior class musical. I was the Business Manager of the choir, raising the funds and orchestrating a 2 week US tour that would entertain from Michigan, to Denver, to Houston, and back. Appearing on local talk shows on our way to compete in a World Competition, where we clenched a silver medal. After which we cut an album.

After High School I modeled a bit, sang in night clubs, tended bar, had a lead role in a college theatrical production, worked on a major motion picture, The River, starring Mel Gibson and Sissy Spacek. I spent a summer at 20th Century Fox with Aaron Spelling Productions in Hollywood, California filming Love Boat, Hart to Hart, and Charlie's Angels and still managed to travel the country. There were so many paths to choose. The answer to Dad’s question wasn’t going to be easy.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Cancer Chronicles 12

The Meltdown -
"Oh That's Not Good"

Welcome back!

On Monday, June 11th, wax stent in hand, I arrived at the hospital ready to begin another day of simulation. I'm in a positive mood. Things are moving forward. I check in at the nurses station and find a seat in the waiting room. A short time passes when the doctor's assistant comes to me and tells me the simulator I'm scheduled on is not working.(remember the tech telling me how reliable these things were?) Since some of my confidence has obviously faded I ask, "Did you plug it in?" She just grins and tells me that it will be a short wait until they can fit me into another machine.

As I wait I'm listening to music on my Ipod, stomach churning to the beat, and for the first time throughout all this I think of my Aunt Louise. I remembered the last time she spoke with me. She had just taken a Caribbean Cruise and called to tell me how much fun she had meeting people and sipping champagne. She told me she bought a beautiful bracelet and just loved it. The excitement in her voice was with childlike enthusiasm! She told me she was planning to come see me and my new home soon. Maybe in a month or so.

Weeks went by and I didn't hear from her. She lived with Grandma Herman in Pembroke Pines, Florida. I called and my cousin, Marsha, answered the phone...Louise was dying. She had been in the hospital for the last two weeks and she begged Marsha to take her home to die. They removed the furniture in the living room and turned it into a hospital room. I was on the next plane.

When I arrived she was seated in a wheel chair. She could not speak. This was not the woman I spoke with two weeks ago. On the table rests a beautiful 8 x 10 photo of Louise from her cruise. She looked great, beautiful, vibrant, full of joy. How can this happen? So full of life one minute and ready to check out the next?

I approached Louise, knelt next to her and said, "Hi Auntie." She smiled, but not a word. She was ghostly white and cold to the touch. Marsha explained to me that she couldn't understand me. I knew Marsha was an RN, but Louise smiled at me when I said Hi. Marsha told me, "She does that with everyone, she's gone Brian"

I knew Louise understood me, She had to, she smiled at me! I began to whisper in her ear and remind her of a vacation that my mom, Louise, and Grandma Herman took. They were in Las Vegas. Louise was always the make-up queen. Never to be seen without it. She even wore false eyelashes.

One night she removed her eyelashes and set them in an ashtray so they wouldn't get misplaced. My mother, being a smoker, (see what's coming??) put out her cigarette in the ashtray and melted the precious eyelashes! Louise was pissed and had to buy a new pair before ANYTHING else could proceed on their vacation!

As I remind Louise of the story she erupts in laughter! Smiles ear to ear and laughing. Marsha said, "What happened." I explained, "I told her a story. She's still in there Marsha."

Within a few days it was over. I held her in my arms as she lay there dying. She was fighting, struggling, her strength was amazing, not ready to go. She fought hard. I whispered in her ear, "Relax Auntie, just relax and let go, just let go, it's time." She drew one big breath and sighed. Her struggle was over. As I held her lifeless body in my arms, I began to cry. She battled breast cancer for over 20 years.

As I reflect, still waiting for my simulation, tears rolling down my face, I hear a voice,"Mr. Walin we're ready for you. Are you OK?" I'm so deeply lost in the memory. I snap back to my reality, wipe my tears, "Yes, I'm fine let's go!"

I enter the simulation room. I assume the position on the table as instructed. They work on my neck placing tape, marking my face. Positioning my head, they want to take X-rays. I'm handed my stent and it breaks in half before I even get it in my mouth...remember the fellow (grad student) made it.

Now you need to understand my Radiologist's personality or should I say lack of one. He looks like a clean cut Einstein with a Cheshire cat grin ear to ear and says VERY little. As he looks at me, I hold out my hand with the broken mouth piece. In a very calm, monotone voice he says, "Oh that's not good." I kinda figured that!

I'm told to run up to dental, explain that this must be repaired as a priority and that Radiology is waiting for it. So, I go. I'm starting to get angry. The broken machine, the broken stent...now I'm asked to run an errand. I'm sick, I'm tired why should I have to do all the running! I explain to the dental receptionist that my stent broke in half. Without even looking at it she says, "Well you shouldn't bite down on it so hard." I snap, "I didn't even get it into my mouth!" (I'm sure you can fill in what I'm thinking right now!)

I wait in the office for over an hour. Shifting my weight, trying to stay off my bedsore and feeling my stomach churn. I ask how much longer only to get, "They're working on it." Two hours pass and I've had enough. This is a wax stent that requires some heat to fix. I could do it with a lighter in five minutes! WTF!

I tell the receptionist I'm not waiting any longer. It should have been done by now. This was a priority. I leave and head downstairs back to Radiology. Growing ever so fed up with all this crap! I grab a tech and tell him I'm going home. He begs, "Please Mr. Walin just wait, we can take care of this. Just let me page your doctor."

I pace in the lobby for 15 minutes then hunt down the tech. "So??? Where is he??" Kindly the tech explains, "He hasn't returned my page."

"WRONG ANSWER! That's it. I'm done. Until you guys can get your shit together, I'm outta here! Tell my doctor I'm going home!" I walk to my bus stop and sit and wait...story of my life right now. When the bus arrives I get on and, Art the bus driver, asks how my day was. I tell him I've just walked out on my doctor. Then Art says, "Oh that's not good." I chuckled to myself and said, "Yup, that's the comment that started it all Art." The second time I've heard that today.

This is the bus that took me to the hospital everyday
Things gotta get better soon right? Tune in next time.

Peace B

NEXT BLOG ENTRY (CC13)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Lyrics From The Songs Of Life

During all my turmoil Father's Day had arrived along with my Father's Birthday. He died in 1985, six months after I had opened my first restaurant. He was my rock. He taught me anything is possible and to follow my dream.

My parents separated when I was 9. My father, as a single parent, raised me alone and he did an awesome job. I look back and say there will never be a more honest, loving, and hard working man to grace this planet. I thought of him more than ever this year. I miss him, wishing he could see all that I've accomplished, and be there for me during trying times like these.

During my lyric writing frenzy I wrote this in his honor...

You Will Always Be There

by Brian N. Walin

Will anyone care when you’re six feet away? Your hair’s fallen out, once prematurely grey. It wasn’t that easy to live a life well, but you managed to do so, while going through hell. It all was just over with one great big sigh and those all around you could not help but cry.

You were a great friend and father so true, and I spend my days just thinking of you. I cherish the memories and things you taught me. It took me awhile before I could see. You taught me the right things and even to fight things. I might not have shown it, but really had known it.

As time passes by and I travel on, I grow in my life and still carry on. I think of you often and always thank you, for giving me strength to carry me through. I’ve grown up wise and shunned all life’s lies. I feel so much better knowing that you were there, when I needed you most and how much you care. It wasn’t that easy letting you go. But therein lies the paradox, it had to be so.

I now have my own tribe and real family. It isn’t that easy when they turn to me. I try to help them with things they go through. I use your techniques as you used to do. I try to teach them things you once taught me, and during this time you’re always the key. It seems so much harder playing the role of the Dad, but I just remember the Dad that I had.

I look at my children as I teach them well, and then I remember I put you through hell. It’s really not easy playing such a big role, and I feel the pain, it’s taking its toll. I say things that you said, they come out of my head, and all the time knowing, it’s your love I’m showing.

I take time to show them, and make time to know them. I’ve learned to play teacher and not to play preacher. It makes me feel proud, when I speak aloud. If you could just hear me, I’m sure you’d be proud. I hope that they’re learning and listening well. This all came from you, I’m sure you can tell.

To answer the question, will anyone care? I’m sure of it now, I needed you there, and though I do miss you and wish I could kiss you. I’ll never forget and with no regret, how much you loved me, and trained me to see, the things that I needed, that helped me be me.

As the year passes, I’m now wearing glasses. It’s so clear to see how much you made me. Again to the question will anyone care? You have to know now…you will always be there.

©2005 Brian N. Walin (All rights reserved)
01/22/05

Rest in Peace
B

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Cancer Chronicles 11

And now back to our regularly scheduled program...

Get-R-Done!

As you might recall things were not going well prior to this.

I arrived on Friday, per my Social Worker's instructions, to speak with my surgeon. The front desk tells me Dr. Clayman is not in the clinic on Fridays. As I beg to differ, I explain the circumstances and I get a puzzled look from the receptionist. She then repeats, "But he is not in on Fridays." As if repeating it was going to make me go away!

He better be here. Have him paged! I'm told to wait and within a few minutes I'm escorted into an examination room. Doc arrives wearing his custom made ostrich cowboy boots made by one of his patients as a gift. I explain the mess, that nothing is getting done, appointments are being canceled, and I'm getting tired of all the crap!

Kindly he says "Brian, there is so much wrong with you and there are too many people involved in your care." YA THINK??? He says, "It's just going to take someone to grab the bull by the horns" So...Start grabbing Doc! He snatches up the phone and like the maestro of the New York Philharmonic, he orchestrates, "Get me Dr. Morrison! (radiology) Get me Dr. Kim! (chemotherapy) Get me Dr. Martin! (dental) Get me an appointment for a G-Tube Check!"

To Dr. Martin: "Why don't we have Mr. Walin's stent? I need it today." Git-R-Done!

To Dr. Morrison: "We need to get Mr. Walin back into simulation. His stent will be ready today." Git-R-Done!

To Dr. Kim "We need to get the ball rolling on Mr. Walin's chemotherapy." Git-R-Done!

His nurse returns an I have an appointment next Tuesday to check the G-Tube and hopefully resolve my stomach problems so I can stop sleeping with my toilet! Within 20 minutes, a weeks worth of appointments have been arranged an I'm off running again with renewed enthusiasm! Git-R-Done!

First to Dental. A slight wait. Dr. Martin is not available, but his Fellow is. (Your basic grad student there to learn) He takes a mold of my teeth upper and lower, then asks me to wait in the lobby. A few hours pass and a temporary wax version of the stent is read for testing. It doesn't fit so he works on it, whittles it down, and molds it on a Bunsen burner. Once it fits, he gives it to me in a plastic tub and I'm off to radiation for simulation. AKA: The Dungeon.

In radiation I'm prepared for my bondage treatment. At least I thought I was! I'm told to remove all but pants and socks. I get on the hard black wood bed and assume the position. Head on the acrylic neck pillow. Stent in mouth so nothing in my mouth can move, nor can I speak. I know some of you are thinking, "So that's how to shut him up!" Shut up yourselves and read!

I'm helped with the wrist restraints, foam placed under my knees, and then the bed rotates under a machine with green laser beams. There are four people, two on either side standing next to me. This should have given me a clue as to what was next. They have a flat plastic mesh screen thing cut out like the shape of a head and shoulders. They tell me to relax. I can only think, "How the hell am I supposed to relax like this?" Then I hear Dr. Morrison say, "This will be a little warm."

They lower the mesh cutout on to me and all I remember is screaming,
"FUCKINSONOFABITCH!" But remember, they couldn't understand a word because of the stent wedged in my mouth. A "little warm" my ass! The mesh was heated to a point that it melted around my face and upper body. Then to add to the pain they bolted it to the table and all four held me down until it began to harden. Fanning it a bit to cool it down. Once hardened, I was completely immobile. I swear it singed an eyebrow.

It's as comfortable as it is pretty!

Then they marked my body and new "mask" with tape and markers to insure the lasers were aligned and aimed in the same position everyday. This is important so the radiation is delivered in the exact spot they want it, avoiding spine, voice box, and salivary glands. Some X-Rays were taken while in my helpless state and then I was released from my bondage. Cancer is not for the weak or claustrophobic!
I was so grateful to be released. I asked the tech if these things ever break down. The machine looked pretty abused. She said, "No. They might be old, but they are very reliable." (Remember that!) I didn't know the Simulation machine was not the actual machine I would be assigned to at the time.

Things had gone well and I was given my wax stent to take home for the weekend. I was instructed to bring the stent back for Monday's Simulation and not to wash the markings off my body. It was a good weekend despite the abuse.Things were moving forward. (Remember that.)

Peace!

Tune in next time, when Brian has a complete meltdown and walks out of the Hospital!

NEXT BLOG ENTRY (CC12)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Cancer Chronicles 10

Ready and Willing…Able might be pushing it!

To catch you all up, after my brief vacation “rest," I returned to Houston with a trash pile of brush still blocking the driveway! Not knowing if it will ever be picked up and with the drugs I'm on I DON'T CARE!



On Monday night, June 4th I rolled into the apartment in Houston. Early to bed I go, with a 10 AM dental appointment in the morning to make a stent (mouth piece) for radiation. My stomach still a mess and the toilet my new best friend.

I spoke with my Dietitian, Denise, when the problem first began and asked if I could take Pepto-Bismol (what a stupid name, who comes up with this stuff?) Why not call it..... H-I-N-D-U RELIEF since it helps fight: Heartburn, Indigestion, Nausea, Diarrhea, and Upset Stomach? Why?? Because that would be another stupid name, that’s why! I need to go work for Proctor and Gamble and fix that...better dump your stock options if that happens! You’ve got time. I’m a little busy at the moment.

Anyway back to my Dumping Syndrome. Yup I’m a dumper! Whoda thunk it? Denise explained that sometimes the feeding tube "migrates into the intestine" and all nutrition bypasses the stomach causing "Dumping Syndrome." This could make the stomach churn creating the above problems. So she set up an appointment to have my G-tube checked.

Tuesday morning off I go to see the dentist and have my tube checked. 10 Am and I’m in the Dentist's waiting room doing what you do in a waiting room. WAIT, and wait, and wait! I explain I have another very important appointment and was told how important this stent is and this should be my priority, so I wait.

At 2 PM...yes 4 hours later I’m called. The nurse wants an x-ray of my mouth. But we just did one last month. I can tell you two teeth are missing. So she checks my records and apologizes for the confusion. No x-ray needed. In a room I wait to see the dentist, the third one I’ve seen here since this all began. He explains he sees an infection at the back of my throat and doesn’t like how my neck is healing. He prescribes an antibiotic and an oral rinse. I ask about the stent and he tells me, he will reschedule that and to go to my radiation simulation tomorrow without it. And yes I missed my feeding tube check. I’m sent on my way with nothing but a handful of drugs and not the fun kind! That’s crap!

Wednesday I arrive for radiation simulation and I wait. Ok only an hour this time, but remember I'm nursing a bed sore on my Coxic...another stupid name! I’m escorted into a dark room, dungeon like, with a black plywood bed (no cushion) and funky equipment that looks pretty old.

This is the dungeon bed I was assigned to for treatment, not the old simulation bed

I get undressed and onto the hard surface. Then they break out the bondage gear. I kid you not! A heavy weighted metal base at the foot, long straps, attached to that and lambs wool wrist cuffs. And for your head comfort, a hard acrylic neck brace. Then a foam wedge to keep the legs bent. What have I gotten myself into????????

As I wait for a dominatrix to appear in her leather bustier and six inch stilettos, I’m asked where my stent is. OMG! I’ve already been a bad boy and it's only my first day! I’m going to get flogged! For those of you who are lost, never mind, just keep reading.

I explain the stent was never made. Well that ended that experience. Off comes the gear and I’m told to get dressed. We can not proceed without it. This might be a good thing! I’m asked to wait in a private waiting room while they make some calls to find out what’s going on. Now you know you’re in for a long wait when you recline the chair and the nurse brings you a pillow, blanket, and turns off the lights for you. I like this room better than the dungeon!

Two hours later and calls have not been returned. I’m told to go see my surgeon on Friday. Just walk into the clinic and tell them I must see him now. I know this is bad advice I’ve tried it before and the doctor wasn’t even in! Meanwhile all the rest of my appointments are cancelled since they all build on attending the prior appointment. And again checking my feeding tube is canceled due to the waiting. HINDU RELIEF to the rescue! Another day sent home and nothing accomplished!

I call my surgeon’s office only to find out he’s not even in on Friday! I call his assistant and demand an appointment, ASAP! I’m getting steamed. The phone rings and it’s my social worker checking in. I vent and she’s very understanding. She asks to help and help she does. Within an hour she’s made an appointment with my surgeon, Friday 8:15 AM. He will come in to fix this on his day off and get the ball rolling again! A calm wafts over me as my stomach continues to rock-n-roll.

To be continued…Peace

Tune in next time kiddies when you'll hear Dr. Clayman demand, "Get-R-Done!" and Brian attempts to use the "F" Word in the dungeon!

NEXT BLOG POST (CC11)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Lyrics From The Songs Of Life

The Good or Bad Quandary

by Brian N. Walin

Who is to say if you’re good or you’re bad? You have to know now, with the life that you’ve had. You want to be good. You know that you should, but sometimes do bad things because that you could. They weren’t the right things, I’m sure you must know, and you could have changed them, despite what you show.

You are in charge of your destiny. You have to be wise and not choose poorly. You have the ability to help those in need. You have to try hard to do a good deed. It’s not all that easy doing things well. It sometimes takes longer, only time it will tell.

We all have our choices, they’re good or they’re bad, and sometimes the wrong ones can make you quite mad. But curbing your anger and channeling it well can help you immensely when going through hell. Learn from your anger and try to be smart. It’s not all that easy. It’s kind of an art.

But as you keep going through life you will see, that if you keep trying it becomes quite easy. Good or bad, it’s really your choice. You will soon learn that you have your own voice. The choices are yours. There’s no one to blame. Don’t make that excuse. It’s really quite lame.

The riches of life come from choices we make, the good and the bad, and paths that we take. So, if you choose paths you know that you should, you can answer yourself, if you’re bad or you’re good.

©2005 Brian N. Walin (All rights reserved)
1/24/05

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Cancer Chronicles 9

Life After Teeth

After my tooth extraction I was told to take 10 days to heal before we start the next phase of treatment. So I planned a trip home. There’s no place like home!

I had a 9 AM Doctors appointment that morning and had to be to the airport by 6 PM. I was exhausted by the long day and succumbed to a wheelchair for the second time in my life. The first was after my operation. I hate a wheelchair. It's like giving up to me. "Push til you drop" has always been my motto, but lately I'm dropping before I even start pushing!

Guess what? You get through security a lot faster in a wheelchair. No waiting in that long line. Next time you fly... Wrap your leg or arm in an ace bandage and don’t bother to comb your hair. It’s worth it! Give your sky cap a few bucks for the push! Highly recommend travel tip..LOL.

When I arrived home all was well despite being gone so long. The next morning I hit the ground running. I felt like I had more energy than I’ve had in years. Before I left for Houston a young man working at my local grocery store as a cashier, noticed we lived in the same neighborhood by my address. He mentioned that if I ever needed any help to give him a call and gave me his number. I found this very kind coming from a 17 year old.

After I arrived home I called Josh, who was graduating that week. He said he and his younger brother would be happy to help me out. And help they did!!! I had bought 10 bags of mulch (that’s all that will fit in my trunk) but realized I would love to do the whole yard back and front all at one time instead of just a touch up. I would need much more mulch and many trips to Lowes.

Josh offered a family trailer so we could get everything all in one trip. Off to Lowes we went. 40 bags of mulch later we were on our way home. The next day Josh and brother got to work and in 3 hours the house looked great! 50 bags of mulch placed, bushes trimmed, unwanted growth removed. In the end, 15 extra large garbage bags at the curb. Exhausted! I don’t know what I would do without them!

Next I hired a tree service to trim up 7 palm trees for hurricane season. Leaving a 4 ft. X 4 ft. X 6 ft. pile of brush next to the trash bags, Making it hard to get the car out. Then I had them move 3 palm trees that had grown from seed. They were over 8 foot tall and needed to be moved out of the flower beds. (I have the horniest palm trees on the street) We moved the palms to the back yard. They looked great.

I was to leave for Houston Thursday night. Trash day was also Thursday. My cousin’s husband, John, came for a nice visit before I left. I don’t see the family often enough. While we talked I hooked up my feeding tube. The trash truck came and only took the trash bags leaving the pile of palm brush with a nasty note attached. To sum it up: “Too Much Shit!” I didn’t know there was a limit…LOL!

After John left I began to feel ill. My stomach began to tumble, rumble, and bloat. Bad gas and then a run for the toilet…better cancel the flight. I passed so much gas McDonalds could have hired me to blow up balloons for the kiddies! I called Southwest Airlines and told them I was ill and they changed my flight at no charge!!! I was shocked! NO CHARGE! Southwest Rocks!

I figured at this point I had over done it in the yard. So for the next few days I rested as my stomach was still a mess. Well with one exception. Over the weekend we had our first tropical storm and blew the newly planted palm trees down in the backyard. Knowing I couldn't fix this alone my next door neighbors came over to help replant and stake them. Thank God for great neighbors! I've had so much help throughout all this. I'm so grateful. During your darkest moments, light can still be found.

On the twelfth day I rested, and it was good!

There's No Place Like Home!

Peace B

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Cancer Chronicles 8

It's Like Pulling Teeth!

I’ve been busy! Weeks ago in preparation for radiation I was told I needed to have two wisdom teeth pulled. Apparently some teeth have the ability to abscess during radiation. If this occurs they are unable to remove them during the radiation process. The jaw bone may disintegrate. In fact I was told any type of tooth extraction in the future will be extremely dangerous.

I’m told to wait for a schedule to show up on my patient web page for this to be set up. The phone rings 4:30 PM. “Mr. Walin we have you scheduled for surgery at noon tomorrow."

“There must be some mistake. I had my surgery weeks ago.” He explains it’s for my tooth extraction. “Oh OK.” I'm also told to arrive NPO, a Latin term meaning nothing by mouth. I can not eat or drink anything after midnight.

The next morning the phone rings 9 AM. “Mr. Walin can you come in early?” Hummm I just got up, need to shower, change bandages, and get on the bus. Maybe I can make it by 11:00 AM, an hour earlier. “OK get here as soon as you can!”

Typical lately, I rush. I get to the hospital. 20 people in the lobby wait as I check in and immediately rushed to a prep area. It feels like an emergency of some kind. I’m given a cap, gown, compression socks, and booties and told to change. Odd, this is what you wear when you have major surgery. I’m having two teeth pulled. Hummm…

I change and they put me on a gurney and an anesthesiologist shows up to place an IV line. The same man that put my IV line in for my tongue surgery. I question, does everybody realize I’m only having two teeth pulled?? They just smile and say, “Yes sir.”

My nurse tells me my dentist and surgeon are on their way. BOTH???? When they arrive we’ll get you into the OR. What…Operating Room for two teeth??? A dentist, a surgeon, a nurse, an anesthesiologist and an operating room???? FOR TWO TEETH??? The next thing I know I’m out like a light and in recovery.

As I wake (less two wisdom teeth, half as smart as I was) I’m hungry and ask the nurse to rustle up some cans of food (remember I’m on a feeding tube) She does and tells me, “Good news! I’ve found you a really nice room!”

A room??? For what?? I’m told I’m staying over night. FOR TWO TEETH????? Over and over I ask, “You realize I only had two teeth pulled?? And all I get is, “Yes sir,” with a smile.

By 4 PM I’m escorted to a wonderful private room and ask when I can go home. I’m told I’m spending the night! FOR TWO TEETH!!!???

I get myself settled, use the bathroom, and setup my gravity feed bag for dinner. The nurse comes in for her introduction and says, “Mr. Walin what are you doing? You need to stay in bed!” I try to explain I’ve only had two teeth pulled. She demands, “Get in bed and call me if you need to get up to use the restroom.” Been there done that already. I try to explain I’m fine. Then she says, “It’s nice to have a patient that’s not incoherent.” Huh??? She further explains that I’m in the brain cancer ward and the patients here for the most part are incoherent.

It’s now dawning on me that this is one elaborately crafted joke. I come in for a simple tooth extraction. They take two “wisdom” teeth and I end up in the “brain” ward only to be pampered as if I were on vacation. So, I settle in and enjoy the rest of my night with a smile.

Say Good Night Gracie!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Cancer Chronicles 7

Well gang …I’m BACK!!! I’m having so much fun here in Houston I’ve decided to stay!

Thank you so much for your cards, letters, calls, and love. It really makes me feel good to know you are all still there!

Let’s play catch up. I came to Houston's MD Anderson Cancer Center to have the tongue cancer removed, and they removed it. Boy, did they remove it! Here’s the deal….First they knock you out, then they plan your slow death while you sleep. Need further explanation?

In The Operating Room:

They cut over ½ my tongue out, more than originally anticipated. Maybe I used the “F” word once too many times! Ok now we have to find something to replace the cancerous tongue. I got it!!! Let’s take a 4 X 6 inch piece of skin from the wrist and cut it completely out. We’ll call it “a flap” Gee, how do we fix the wrist??? Let’s shave a 5 X 7 inch section of skin off the thigh and graft that skin over the forearm. Now that we are ready put the flap in we see he has an extremely small mouth. Betcha never guessed that would happen! To fix that we’ll just cut the ends of his mouth about an inch to get better access. While we are slicing, let's slice the throat so we can add a tracheotomy to our list of DOs. Oh and I must mention that the lymph nodes in the neck must come out. Let’s dissect the neck cutting from ear to Adam’s apple and dig out 20 or so of them puppies!

Well now he can’t talk, swallow, or barely breath. GREAT JOB people, lets go home!!! One lone nurse raises her hand and asks, “Can’t we at least feed the poor guy?? Well alright let’s shove a rubber tube down his nose to his stomach and suture it to the inside of his nose. Just make sure those sutures are excruciatingly tight and secure! 10 1/2 hours later…Time to go home people!

In ICU I wake in a bed that feels like the bucket seat in a sports car. Great drugs by the way! Recommend them “high”ly. Tubes, IV’s, Drugs, Nurses, Doctors, Doctor's Assistants, People taking vitals, and Cleaning People round the clock, it never ends. After 1 ½ days after the operation the Plastic Surgeon came in to ask how I was doing and I told him I felt like I was run over by a truck. He looked at me in amazement and said, “You can talk?” Not well, I feel like I have a sock in my mouth and I sound like a two year old with a speech impediment. Does that make me eligible for "the short bus?" He told me I was very fortunate that I was able to speak at all, especially so soon after surgery. It wasn’t my voice and I wasn’t happy.

I was visited by so many professionals I can't remember all their names. I don't even know what they all did except get paid! One bit of great news was when Dr. Clayman stepped in and announced proudly, "I think we got it all!" He was genuinely happy for me. Great news!!!

After 3 days in ICU they found me a room of my own, very nice. A private room with shower TV and nice furniture, and $100,000 bed with a hard bucket seat, very uncomfortable. After a few days of that, my ass was getting bed sores. I had to figure out how to use the adjustable digital air mattress myself. I don’t think anybody there actually knew how, not my job kinda thing. After that my butt was more comfortable, but the soars are still with me and now have a Wound Care Specialist. Hummmm let’s give him bed soars and then charge him to fix them….can you say Cha-Ching!

Now back in my apartment having been released last Wednesday, May 2nd, I have been trying to relax getting used to the tube feeding formula. Friday I went for a barium swallow test, to see if I would be able to eat solid foods soon. Simple answer...NOPE! Just clear liquids. They give you different items to swallow; water, apple sauce, yogurt, one at a time. Then they perform a live x-ray to see how everything in your mouth is working. I think the barium that is mixed with the items allows the swallowed items to show up better on film. This helps to see if anything is going down the wind pipe and how well the movement in the oral cavity is. This is going to be a long term recovery. Let’s take out the short term nose feeding tube and let’s insert a longer term PEG tube into the belly.

NOW…Remember I told you I was having so much fun I decided to stay? Here is why...today the crowning blow. After being told they thought they got all the cancer during surgery, I was told that the cancer had spread into the lymph nodes and past the outer layer. Dr. Clayman delivered the blow with loving grace. He was truly upset.

WHAT EVER DO WE DO NOW? Radiation Chemotherapy!!! SIX WEEKS of it!! FIVE days a week. F**K! OK, sorry had to get that out! Oh and by the way ALL of my swear words I can speak clearly, go figure.

Isabel has to leave next Wednesday. She’s been a great help and has been here a long time doing so. I applaud her for her patients. While I’m at it I’ll applaud myself for mine! I don’t know how I’m going to get through the radiation alone but I have no choice. Anybody want to visit Houston??? Give me a shout!

Throughout this life altering journey there have been many angels. One recent one was a Tech named Bunmi (Boomie.) She’s as cute as her name. A little ebony angel (think Beyounce’s younger sister with brains.) She came everyday with her laptop to check my new tongue flap. The doctors inserted a wire under the flap and used a device similar to a fetal Doppler and Bunmi evaluated its progress. They wanted to make sure adequate blood flow was keeping the flap healthy. I thought that was her job. She was actually writing a paper with my Plastic Surgeon on tongue flaps. She starts her residency to become a surgeon herself in the fall.

One day I was alone in my room and Bunmi came in to check the flap. On her way out she turned slowly and softly asked, “Mr. Walin, I don't normally do this but…would you mind if I prayed for you?" Well it couldn't hurt??? I thought she’d go home and pray for me. But to my surprise, she closed the door, sat on my bed, held my hand, and prayed for me. Afterwards she held me close and I cried. A cleansing cry that was well over due. I hadn't yet cried throughout this whole experience. It was very moving and very sweet. She visited me everyday, even after she was done recording my flap, until I was released from the hospital. A true angel.

Thank God for angels!

Peace B

NEXT BLOG ENTRY (CC8)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Lyrics From The Songs Of Life



My Angel

by Brian N. Walin


Some think that angels only fly in the sky, but I ask my questions, I want to know why? Why do the angels only fly in the sky? Why don’t we imagine them standing near by?

Down from the heavens we’re told they arrive. On gentle wings we know not alive. We’re told that they’re strangers assigned to us all, these guardian angels always on call. But we never see them, just trust that they’re there, the truth of an angel, the love that they bare.

This angelic presence sent from above, to guide us and shield us, with unspoken love, is given a task to help us get by, through tragedy, and sorrow, and times when we cry.

They know that you're there, they're keenly aware, but you never see them not if you stare. Sometimes a distance is given to you and they know what’s needed to carry you through. The support they give is silent and true, the kind of comfort that you never knew.

The wings of an angel can wrap you so tight, to keep you and love you with their gentle might. The times that they’re needed you might never know, but their instincts are true and always will show. They’re there when they’re needed, though you never ask. They’re always on call and up to the task.

You might feel a presence, a warm peaceful glow. But you’ll never be sure how much they know. The support they give is kind and sincere. It’s given much more the closer they’re near.

Life can be painful, sad, and unkind, and angels are needed to save the maligned. To dry up the tears and force back the fears, and give us the strength to get through the years. I know that these angels don’t come from above. They’re here with us all, spreading their love.

I see that my angel is standing right here. You might not realize until you look in the mirror. For you are my angel, my kind and dear friend. I know that our friendship will always transcend. I don’t always tell you, I don’t follow through, but now is my time to say I love you.



©2007 Brian N. Walin (All rights reserved)

01/19/07

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Cancer Chronicles 6

ANGELS EVERYWHERE

On my way to the airport for my flight home I receive a voice mail message from Dr. Schmidt's assistant. He wanted to make sure we are still on for surgery at UCSF. I return the call only to get his voice mail. Indeed I am still interested in surgery, but need to get the biopsy pathology back from the tonsillectomy to make sure that is the right direction to take. Tag, you're it!

The next Monday I have another message, again asking the same question. Again I return the call to his voice mail. Yes! We are still on for surgery! Late Tuesday evening I find a voicemail message from Dr. Schmidt himself stating, "I'm sorry to cancel your surgery date but we have priority patients waiting." WHAT??? I called him back and I'm enraged! I get his voicemail.(See the problem here?)You gave my surgery date away? WHY? I left messages with your assistant! This is my life you're messing with! Why would you do that? Not even, "You have two days to make up you mind," just BAM, you're cancelled!?

I find on Wednesday that the pathology report on my tonsils came back negative. Now ain't that a pisser? The tonsils didn't have to come out and now I don't have a surgery date when surgery is indeed the resolve for my tongue cancer!

The phone rings, it's Dr. Schmidt, he's sorry for the mix up and insists MD Anderson will take good care of me. I'm still not happy and express it and he understands. Why do you just cancel something so important without warning? I don't even have a surgery date now!

I call Dr. Clayman's assistant and explain my dilemma and that the pain is getting to the point its unmanageable even with pain meds. He has me on the roster within weeks. A new date is dawning!

My Time Is At Hand

Well my friends, this is it!!!

Four months later I'm back in Houston. I was in a hotel for a few days while Catholic Charities looked for housing for me. Back at The Grand Plaza for that free breakfast! Remember, not just coffee and donuts! I'm talking grits, sausage gravy with biscuits, fresh fruit, hash potatoes, fresh juices, and personally made omelets! YUM!

When I went to the front desk to get my breakfast coupon, the lady asked when I was having my surgery, I told her Tuesday. She asked if it was a big or a little surgery. I told her BIG! She handed me my coupon and said, "If you need any blood, just let me know." HUH???? Pardon me? What did you say??? She repeated, "If you need any blood, just let me know." Did you say BLOOD??? She said, "Yes, I'm a universal donor and I would be happy to help you if needed." I couldn't believe my ears. A perfect stranger was offering to be my blood donor! OK the love I'm surrounded with and the people I'm meeting have gone to a whole new level!!!!

Sometimes I get the feeling I'm living in a black hole on the edge of the twilight zone. People like this really exist and they're coming out of the woodwork lately!

The people I've met on this journey and the things I have been faced with have been very inspiring. On the way to my first visit I met a flight attendant named Debbie. I've never felt so much love from a stranger.

While waiting for my flight, I sit next to two flight attendants. They began conversing about tongue cancer, an article one was reading in the newspaper. How ironic! Well...I couldn't help but butt in. I explain that I have tongue cancer. Debbie, one of the flight attendants was so interested and concerned, we began to chat. It was like I had known her all my life. We chatted until it was time to board.

Once aboard I was seated in the bulkhead in first class. Debbie was the senior flight attendant in charge of the first class cabin. I felt like I was her only passenger. The seat next to me was empty. So, she sat next to me the whole flight only taking time away to serve a meal and drinks. We chatted about her kids, her dog, my dog, my cancer, her job, my old job. We talked of my writing my book and lyrics. It was like catching up with an old friend you haven't seen for years. I can't explain how close I felt and how loving she was. It was something I've never felt from a stranger before. I had a draft copy of the first 50 pages of my book, she read through it and said, "More!" I just smiled. I read her some lyrics as she listened and smiled lovingly.

When the plane touched down, she left my side to ready the cabin and give her arrival announcement. I was the first to disembark. I held out my hand to say thank you. She grabbed it tight, pulled me in so close, and hugged me so deeply, pressing her cheek to mine and whispered in my ear some very kind and loving words along with, "You have a very special gift to share, with an amazing heart. Keep on writing." My eyes welled up. It felt like we hugged for 10 minutes, but I know it was less.

I didn’t want her embrace to end, but I felt the hot breath of the passengers behind me like cattle ready to stampede. In my mind I could hear, “Let’s go buddy, I ain’t got all day…move it!!!” As I stepped that first foot off the plane it dawned on me, this person that felt like my very best friend, I was never to see again. There was a sadness and a peace at the very same time. Something inside me said, "This is the way it's suppose to be. Embrace it and move on."

When I arrived home I was able to complete a lyric I was composing but hadn't yet finished. I thought it to be one of my best so far. It brought me great peace. Angels are with me, there is no doubt. The lyric is about angels and Debbie was one of them. I will post that lyric here soon.

On yet another flight, I was scheduled to be in coach, but was bumped to first class. Don't you just hate when that happens??? No reason was given. I planned on resting during this flight, I was exhausted, but that was not to be.

I was seated next to a man named Darrell, a Pastor of The Pilgrim Branch Bible Church in Houston. We chatted and shared stories, just like old buddies. I told him mine, he told me of his calling and how he didn't want to be a 5th generation pastor, but God would not take no for an answer. He told me I filled him with the Lord and I inspired him. We had such a wonderful conversation I didn't want the plane to land.

Within days I received this wonderful email from Darrell that I want to share. I was overwhelmed by his kind words.

Brian:

You strong and Mighty Man.

I am now at the same place we first met IAH. My word of encouragement comes today from the fact that you have helped me to be stronger. I am not blowing you smoke, knowing what and how you have dealt with the issues of life helped me to see the bigger picture. The Bible tells us to be careful how we entertain strangers for some have entertained angels unaware. You have been an angel for me sharing the fact that in life we must deal with our hand. My prayer is that the new language that you will develop will allow to speak with a greater appreciation of hearing. I say this because in your moments of silence when talking would have occurred, you will be able to reflect and offer words of grace. Your time is at hand as it has been everyday every moment until now but know that if you ask God he will go with you for now and until the end of time. Thank you for sharing the words, but moreover thank you for being my angel.

Love
Your Brother
Darrell


On Tuesday they remove the cancer from the tongue. It's a big surgery, 10 1/2 hours. They will remove almost 1/2 the tongue. The cancer has grown and causes excruciating pain. Lot's of wonderful drugs help! A neck dissection will be performed to remove lymph nodes to see if the cancer has spread. They cut from the ear to the center of the throat. I also will need a tracheotomy to breath. They will then remove donor skin from either wrist or thigh to replace what they have removed from my mouth. They call this a flap and will help the remaining tongue to function more effectively.

There is a chance I might not have intelligible speech...hold your jokes! Swallowing and eating will be difficult and I will lose some arm function temporarily due to the neck dissection. The plan is to place a nasal feeding tube to help maintain my nutrition while I recover.

Two days away and my world will change forever. Am I ready? NEVER! Am I scared? HELL YES! Does this have to be done? THERE IS NO DOUBT!

Peace

NEXT BLOG ENTRY (CC7)

Thursday, August 9, 2007

The Cancer Chronicles 5

March 28, 2007

I'm waiting in the airport terminal, across from me sits a young couple both reading self help books, intently determined to learn and improve their lives. We are virtually alone in the waiting area as we are early for our flight. She's reading, "How To Get What You Want, When You Want It," and he's reading, "How To Negotiate More Effectively." I find this to be hysterically funny as I think to myself, "Marital problems! DIVORCED IN LESS THAN A YEAR!" I start to laugh out loud as the young lady tips her book and peers over its top at me. I have no excuse for the laughter, there's nobody sitting next to me to blame. She thinks I'm crazy! Oh well. it's still funny to me!

Well my tonsillectomy was yesterday. It was decided at the last minute that both tonsils would be removed. No big deal. I arrived at 6:30 AM and ushered into a prep area. A nurse’s aid arrives bearing gifts. I’m given a cap and gown and compression socks. Humm…must be graduation! She gives me a moment to change and into the bed I jump to prepare for this journey. The nurse’s aid asks a series of questions to assure she has the correct patient. Your name? I answer with my name. Your patient number? I give my patient number. And what procedure are you here for today? And I answer, “Breast augmentation!” Where did that come from??? I get kinda silly when I get nervous sometimes! As she bursts into laughter she says, “I can see you’re going to be a handful this morning!”

Then the OR nurse arrives, same drill, same answers, same laughter. Then a 3rd person arrives and I can’t recall what she was for. Then finally the anesthesiologist arrives. I give the same answers as I’m on a roll feeling like quite the comic. But when I answer, “Breast augmentation,” the room is silent. He looks me square in the eye with a very stern scowl, tilts his glasses to the edge of his nose and says, “And what else?” At that point none of us could stop laughing.

An IV was set into my arm. Drip, drip, drip, and I was fast asleep. I only remember somebody saying, “Here we go,” as we left the prep area for the OR. I remember nothing else. I never even saw my surgeon! For all I know the hospital’s janitor could have performed the operation in a broom closet!

I was in recovery by 10:30. I’m not sure how long the operation took. I was told one hour. I awoke talking normal with minor throat irritation. The nurse explained that with Dr. Clayman being one of the best surgeons in the country, that should have been expected.

I stayed up all night with one of the night nurses in my private observation room along with another woman that had a breast removed yesterday. She was clutching a pillow and pacing the hall, so I invited her in for a bonding session. My pain meds tend to keep me awake. I'm just wired backwards I guess.

I can't explain the love that flows through this place. It's honestly overwhelming, every story more interesting and more unbelievable. Miracles do happen. This is truly the Twilight Zone. You touch people and they begin to tell you there most intimate life stories. My night nurse just ended relationship with a man she was engaged to. She had so many questions and told me I helped her with some things she just couldn't get answered. I find, in an odd way, I feel needed as much as I need. It's never "all about me" here. It's wonderful.

In the morning I'm given breakfast. The food at the hospital by the way is awesome. I've seen a lot of hospital menus because of my mother’s many visits and I have to say she got screwed. This morning I had egg, bacon, and cheese crepes, with fresh fruit, yogurt, and hot tea, along with some awesome pain meds.

After my night of observation I head back to my hotel for a bit more recovery. I was given a hotel room free this trip. I called the American Cancer Society and befriended the lady that answered the phone. Her husband had my same team of doctors here in Houston. He died several years ago prompting her go back to school so she could support her 3 kids. She now works for ACS and wishes to seek employment at MD Anderson. It seems the love comes from the fact that almost all of the employees have been personally affected by cancer in some way. My surgeon is a cancer survivor himself. I spoke with her for 3 hours and she found me accommodations that were donated by a local hotel, The Grand Plaza, including a free breakfast and I'm not talking rolls and coffee. The chef came out and made me an omelet for breakfast, right before my eyes!

The tonsils are being sent out for biopsy to be frozen sectioned???? This apparently gives better pathology results than if the biopsy was done during surgery. I'm learning a lot, yet I know nothing. Very humbling. When the reports come back I will have a better idea if I should follow radiation or continue with a surgical resolve for the tongue. Meanwhile it grows along the side of my tongue and it is due a name soon. Submit your ideas!!!

Thank you for your interest, kindness, and love!!!

Peace B

NEXT BLOG ENTRY (CC6)

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Lyrics From The Songs Of Life

The First Lyric

Many years ago I awoke from a nap. It was late afternoon as the warm sun cast it's light across my bed. My head began to spin. Everything was rhyming and I had to write. Now, I'm not a writer nor poet, never have been, and don't proclaim to be. It was more like a possession. I HAD TO WRITE! I fired up the laptop which was on my bed and this was the first of many writings that came out. Within 10 minutes this was written word for word without corrections. I wrote for three days without sleep. All in rhyme and all with a message. Some will call them poetry, I call them "Lyrics From The Songs Of Life." My friend Eric, said they sound like a cross between Dr. Seuss and Dr. Phil. Upon reading this he dubbed me: Dr. Swill, and so the doctor was born. I have no idea where it came from, somewhere deep within. I spent my life in business using the analytical side of my brain and I guess it was time for my artistic side to get involved in my life!


If Just For One Moment

by Brian N. Walin

The world revolves, gravity holding its place. But it still keeps on turning, when we fall flat on our face. If for one little moment this world would stop. Is it possible when it did, we all would just drop?

Could we pick up the pieces and put it all back? Would it just be too difficult to get all back on track? What if the world no longer revolved? Would it be in that moment we’d all be absolved?

Would it all be over? Would we cease to exist? Would it be time to heal or just be remiss? Could we take back the bad, and make it all right? Could we bring back the joy, if just for one night?

When I think about time and the years it must know, it’s hard to imagine when it’s our time to go. Would clocks just stop turning and give time to kill, to give us that moment to get up the hill, to climb every mountain, to ford every stream, to just keep on going, to follow that dream?

If just for one moment this world would stop, to give me my time, to get back up on top. I’ve known of life’s pleasures, and even life’s treasures. I’ve given my soul to reach such great measures.

It all can’t be over, I’m not nearly done. I need much more time, I haven’t yet won. I want to grow old and bathe in the sun. But that’s not my fate, God’s will, will be done.

A note to you all who read of this verse, give of yourself and not make it worse. What if your world stopped turning in place? Have you taken the time to think about race, to think about hatred, the war it can bring? Have we taken this wrong…“Let Freedom Ring?”

The world keeps on turning, a ball out in space. A small spec of dust, that’s really the case. It all could be over in one little flash. It could be the cause of one little clash. So, try to remember it’s love you must give, to keep this world turning, so that we may live.


©2005 Brian N. Walin (All rights reserved)
01/21/05

The Cancer Chronicles 4

February/March 07

Well the MRI really didn't show anything, but it was evident that surgery was necessary. After the approach Dr Schmidt wanted to take I find it time to seek a second opinion. Frankly, taking 1/3 of my tongue scares me! I did a lot of research and found the two best cancer hospitals in the country were Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York and MD Anderson in Houston. Meanwhile a surgery date was set up at UCSF so I could get on the roster since Dr. Schmidt books two to three months in advance.

I found that a Dr. Gary Clayman was one of the leading surgeons in the country and specializes in Head and Neck cancers. He was located at the MD Anderson Cancer Center. This was the man I wanted to see! While I made arrangements to get to Houston for a consultation, I found an article about Warren Buffett’s wife having cancer. As it turns out she used the very same team of doctors led by Dr. Schmidt, at UCSF that I was using.

I thought I would write a letter to Mr. Buffett, asking how he came to choose Dr. Schmidt at UCSF. After all, being one of the richest men in the world his wife could have gone anywhere to seek the best treatment money could buy. I never really thought I’d get a response, but within three days of sending my letter his secretary, Debbie called to tell me Mr. Buffett had dictated a response and that the whole office was pulling for me. I was floored. She was so kind, I almost cried. To me nothing is more important in life than giving one’s time. Mr. Buffett, being such a busy man, will never know how much I appreciate the time he took to respond. His letter, which arrived within days of speaking with Debbie, was kind, heartfelt, and direct. Bottom line, “You could not be in better hands.”

Mr. Warren Buffett –THANK YOU!

I arrived in Houston and was a bit overwhelmed. The Med Center is huge! I was given a week long schedule. I had meetings with Dr. Clayman, the surgeon, Dr. Kim, the chemotherapist, and Dr. Morrison, the radiologist. This was to be my team of doctors if I chose to be treated here. But none could agree on treatment. The surgeon said, "Radiation." The radiologist said, "Surgery." The chemotherapist said, "You don’t want chemo." OK, now what?

I had several tests and CT Scans and blood work, all looking to see where else the cancer might be. Nothing seemed to be found anywhere else in my body. The one thing I’ve learned here is: being sick is exhausting and all these appointments and procedures wear you out. Oddly the testing at UCSF was not this extensive.

Even though the doctors had not agreed at this point, what was agreed upon was that I had an abnormal tonsil and Dr. Clayman wanted to biopsy it. I agree and tell him to take them both, but he only wants one. The concern here was that there might be two different types of cancer growing in the oral cavity, in which case surgery of the tongue would not be the best answer. Radiation would be a better option. This just gets more complex everyday!

Arrangements are made for me to come back to perform the tonsil biopsy. I thought it best to allow Dr. Clayman to operate since UCSF didn’t even notice it and their testing at MD Anderson was more extensive. I still feel that Dr. Schmidt should operate on my tongue when the time comes. The longer I wait, the more the cancer grows. Ever since the initial tongue biopsy the cancer has tripled in size. It’s like it became enraged after being cut into and was fighting back!

There’s just so much to think about. I'm tired, overwhelmed, and in pain. Vicodin to the rescue! I’ve been on that crap since January, 24/7 and I find it so hard to function, but the nice thing about the drug is….. I DON’T CARE!

Peace

NEXT BLOG ENTRY (CC5)

Monday, August 6, 2007

The Cancer Chronicles 3

January 20, 2007

Say it with me …..SHIT!

Yesterday I had to have a second MRI at 7 AM. Then straight to the airport to catch a flight to a warmer destination for some R&R at 11:50 AM. It was freezing as I got into the car for the ride there. I needed gas and was running a little behind. On the radio was The Whoopi Goldberg Morning Show. I didn't know she had one! It rocked! I'm not sure if it’s a syndicated or not but catch it if you can at 5 AM. I was afraid I was going to be late! Gassed and ran. Yea!! I was 10 minutes early and nobody was there. Seven o'clock promptly, 3 of the staff arrived for my exam.

I got back into my buttless (I know that’s not a word but it should be!) attire and prepared to enter my tomb… tired, relaxed, and wanting to just get it over with. On the head phones, Josh Groban’s, “You Lift Me Up” Inspirational! 40 minutes later I exit to an Elton John number I can't recall because the tech was talking over him as I listened to the tech carefully. I go to get dressed.

With a sad puzzled look on his face he asks me to sit down for a moment. I thought maybe he saw something on the MRI that was serious. Visibly upset he says, “There’s something wrong with the MRI.” My heart sank.

I think he noticed my expression and quickly recanted, “Not with you…the MRI itself.” I breath….what? Apparently the MRI malfunctioned. The Doctor called for a “fat sat with contrast” My understanding is that means the MRI must remove the fat tissues from the screening and the contrast happens when the dye is injected into the arm. For what ever reason with sincere apologies he tells me it has to be redone.

But I don't have time!!! I need to leave for the airport! He asks when I'm coming back and I explain not until after UCSF’s findings. But now there will be no findings without these images. Soooooo….

What do we do? I explain I can reschedule my flight for $100 and spend the night in Fremont and we can go again ASAP. The owner, Dr. Rory Satterfield agrees to cover all my expenses and rearranges a 4 PM re-shoot. They set me up in a very plush private office and I made all my changes, flight, and airport pick-up. I went out to the car to get some info and I had a flat tire. I just laughed. What once would have made me angry was just another unimportant thing to take care of.

After going to 3 gas stations, I finally found one that had a working air pump. I went back to Isabel's to rest. Then back to Inview (the imaging company) at 4 PM for round THREE!

A Moral

On the way back I spotted a squirrel in the road intently working on a walnut. I pulled off to the side of the road to watch him work on that thing.

One thing being ill has taught me all these years is that I notice the little things more and appreciate much of the beauty we often miss in our daily grind to survive the concrete jungle.

That squirrel was so cute. He turned that nut, put it down, rotated it around, banged it on the ground, as if he was looking for the easiest way in. All he cared about was that nut, nothing else mattered. He was so obsessed with his nut, he didn't even notice me park the car just a few feet way. All of the sudden another car rounded the corner and as it passed I saw my new little friend flat dead in the street. He never knew what hit him.

Sadly I thought to myself, “Damn….one minute you're minding your own business, playing with your nuts in the street, and the next minute you're road kill...ain't life a BITCH!"

Don't obsess on one thing for too long, life just might pass you by. (or run you over!)

Nutters RIP!
Until tomorrow my friends!
Peace B

Words To Live By:

"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service to others." -Mahatma Gandhi