Pinki and I working on our tans in the radiation therapy room.



July 3, Group Emailing. Subject: Zapp!

Sorry I haven't been sending updates. Things were getting a little convoluted here (surprise!) so I just figured I'd wait and see what happened so I could tell the whole story at once. Here it is:

Two weeks ago on a routine doctors visit the doctor came in and said " your gallium scan is clean, your free of detectable cancer, congratulations, but on your CT scan there's new lesions all over both your lungs which could potentially be fatal so were calling in a pulmonologist and putting radiation on hold....."

I tell myself, "Okay, more bad news with the good. No problem. I can handle it. I'm getting used to this. And I can still leave the hospital after this and get a steak and guacamole sandwich."

Then they said that they were going to admit me back into the hospital to run some tests... But eventually they decided not to. And a week later a new CT scan showed 50% improvement. The Pulmonologist declared that we'll never know what it was and that I should get on with the radiation.

End of that mini saga.

The target area displayed on my chest in marker

So today was my first day beneath the radiation machine. It's funny how you can think this stuff isn't going to bother you for months on end, then when the time comes you start wondering what you were thinking! "These people want to blast me!" I thought to myself. But worst of all was seeing the hulking radiation machine for the first time:

I once worked at a ski factory. They had an incredible, huge machine that took a slab of aluminum into a slot in the middle. A button was pushed and Ka-blam! The ground shook and out popped a brand new shovel blade. Just like that.

As they slid me up to the radiation machine I was pretty sure I wasn't going to come out a shovel, but I had my concerns. "Will it hurt, How long does it take, why does everyone run out of the room before the buzzing starts?" I got my answers. It hurts about as much as an x-ray does (it doesn't hurt), it takes about 15 seconds on each side (over easy, please), and the techs run out of the room for blindingly obvious reasons...

15 seconds doesn't seem like a long time, but get lined up in the cross hairs beneath that buzzing behemoth for the first time and you'll suddenly change your mind. Especially when you're straining to see the invisible rays tearing imperceptibly through your body, or you're trying to feel what's happening within you with senses heightened by adrenaline and fear. The accompanying buzz seems to ring on incessantly as you wonder, "How much radiation am I getting. When is it ever going to end?" Next thing you know it's "see you later" and you're off in search of an iced coffee in the blazing heat of Salt Lake City valley (105 today). What's the big deal?

Oh yeah, and I'm starting to grow hair once again! I'm getting fuzzy all over the place. Hopefully, soon you won't recognize me.

July 10. Let it rain

Well, I just finished my fifth radiation session, so I'm a quarter of the way done. Feeling good so far, and that's to be expected. Some days I feel a little queasy beneath the blaster as it buzzes, other days I don't really mind at all. With my life at times feeling back to normal, I often come close to entirely forgetting the appointments. Luckily, I haven't missed one yet. Every day I miss now just adds another day on to the end. I just want to get this over with

Something I forgot to mention on the last update is my new exercise routine. Since there was a lung scare and now radiation is adding a new risk, I have cut out hiking and biking and being anywhere there is potential exposure to dust. A pulmonologist convinced me with his "there aren't enough words in the dictionary to describe what the bugs that live in dust can do to you" speech. I got his point. I've been limiting my adventures to city creek canyon, which is paved and off limits to vehicles every other day. It's also nice and cool next to the stream, an oasis in this oven-like desert.

The other big change in my life is that my parents have returned me to Christine's care and have both gone home to Cincinnati. At least one of my parents, often both, have been here consistently since the start of the transplant in the middle of May. They, and my brothers and sisters, have actually been coming on all the critical dates that have occurred since this first started back in August. I've had the best care!

But now things have really slowed down. I can easily take care of myself now, I just need a little bit of company in case I get a blood infection from my catheter and conk out without warning. Still, I now have a lot more space than I'm used to. Often I find my mind wandering to places I haven't been in a long time. Places like "what about school, what about work, what are you doing with your life". I'm still not up to answering these questions (I may never be!). Just let me get my eyebrows back first.

There's a weather alert out right now as we're being hit by yet another afternoon thunder storm. The coolness brought by these rains is a wonderful treat on a hot summer day. Bring it on.

A friend just re-ruptured a hernia and had an operation to fix it, so lately I've been enjoying a reversal of roles. Feels good to be a care giver for a change.

That's the news from chemoville, where the men are emaciated, the women are bald, and the children are all plugged into machines.


Quote of the Month

"It has recently been discovered that research may cause cancer in laboratory rats" ~anonymous.


July 14

Just finished my first full week of radiation. Doing fine. Thursday I started getting tired feeling. Today I'm really lethargic, to the point that I'll do odd things to avoid the grueling task of getting up out of my chair. It's a bittersweet feeling, like ticklish pain. I sometimes enjoy the ensuing sloth, and I often wonder how much of the lazy handicap is just mental.

Despite the draggyness, I've still been able to handle the adventures that confront me to and from radiation therapy everyday. The noon appointments would only take about 10 minutes, if only I didn't have to park. The U Hospital parking lot is akin to a black hole: not even time can escape it's wrath. This crammed dungeon of a facility induces a sort of claustrophobia immediately upon entrance. Sagging low ceilings and stale light decorate the long tunnel where hardly an inch exists that isn't packed with bulging automobiles. Around the first corner is when you suddenly realize that the 25 cars ahead of you aren't moving anywhere. Right as you decide to nail it in reverse to get out of that carbon monoxide coffin, a line of cars pull up behind you and seal you in. I'm not sure what's so complicated about the parking in there that causes the pileups, but now I know that if I'm running late then some cosmic string of events will also insure a debilitating parking lot traffic jam....

Now I just park in a galaxy far, far away and take a nice leisurely stroll across the U medical campus. The commute has me plunging through tunnels, traversing multiple institutions of medicine, ascending or descending 7 flights of stairs, and heroically fording those germ infested areas where my mask once again comes in handy. Thus my 10 minute appointment turns into an epic of infinitesimal proportions.

But hey, if all I have to complain about is the parking, then things must be pretty good!


Accepting the nose hairs that come back with the eyebrows!

July 23, Group Email. Subject: Extra! Extra!

Read all about it!


Christine Hasegawa, who witnessed part of the incident, told reporters today "The skinny, bald guy living here suddenly disappeared in a violent explosion of human hair".

In his place was discovered an estatic, dark, hairy beast.

The beast refused to comment on the explosion, but when shown to a mirror did say, "There's hair on my face! There's hair on my head! There's hair on my cheekbones! There's hair coming out of my nose and ears! This is amazing! Do you see the hairs! Do you? Do you?"

Since the explosion, which alarmed neighbors earlier this week, the beast has been properly confined and protected from exposure to dusts. Meanwhile, the search goes on for the skinny, bald man we once lovingly called "chemoboy".


.....Good bye and good luck, chemoboy, wherever you have gone.....