Am reading this.
06 October 2021
Well, now it’s official: that thing on my leg is skin cancer. Basal cell carcinoma, to be precise. It showed up about a year ago; but I didn’t have it seen to because of the pandemic. Finally decided to go have it checked out. After a biopsy confirmed it was cancer, I had it removed in a pretty simple and straightforward procedure.
Basal carcinomas are pretty basic. They sit and grow in the upper layers of skin. They don’t burrow or spread like other skin cancers can – like melanoma. But, if not tended to, they can cause all kinds of problems, so I’m really glad that this one is history.
12 September 2021
21 August 2021
I’ve had a long time to prepare; but nothing prepared me for the consequences of this first treatment. (I had six treatments while recently in the hospital for eleven days.) Not only did this treatment throw me for a loop, it also gave me the worst “brain fog” I’ve ever experienced, leading to me collapsing on the living room floor. (Luckily, my husband Matt was in attendance and helped me.)
As I write this, it’s been 6.5 hours since the end of my treatment. The brain fog has mostly lifted, but my body feels like it's being remotely operated by one of those guys working a pair of those robot arms. So bizarre.
Clearly, changes will need to be made to my treatment. And they can’t come soon enough.
21 July 2021
22 June 2021
Today is the start of summer camp in many places across the USA: a tentative return to normalcy after such public assemblies were banned last year. This got me thinking of my summers in Phoenix, in the 1960s and 1970s. I never went to a sleep-away camp, but I did go to a day camp.
Every weekday morning, I would walk a short distance to a public bus stop near my house. A yellow school bus would come by and pick me up. We drove for a while then stopped at a building. All I remember about it was that it was surrounded by a lot of trees. Once there, we would do various activities, including singing, art class and swimming, I’m sure we did lots of other things too; but that’s all I remember.
At the end of the day, the bus would take me back to the same stop and I would walk home. Every Friday (or every other Friday) rather than being taken home, we would drive into far west metro Phoenix to the Estrella Mountain Park. There, we would camp for the night in tents, cook food over a fire and sleep in the quiet of the desert. The next morning, my parents would drive out there to pick me up. I remember enjoying my time at this day camp with overnight camping. I just wish I had better memories of it.
[Photograph is of a small rock paperweight I painted on one of the art days.]
20 June 2021
29 May 2021
08 May 2021
On Friday, 30 April, I almost died from a drug overdose of a prescription medicine.
You often hear about people having similar experiences; but it my case, there’s a twist: the drug was prescribed by one of my doctors who ordered a dosage amount that was about sixteen-times more than he should have. In fact, it turns out that – considering my damaged kidneys – I should never have been prescribed this drug at all.
A few days after I began taking this drug, I started to cough up blood. Copious amounts of it. I could not sleep on my back without aggravating my lungs into bleeding more. It appears the overdose caused the alveoli in my lungs to burst (causing the bleeding) which greatly reduced the ability of my body to process oxygen.
The day I went into the hospital was – by coincidence – the day before I was to re-start my monthly chemo regimen. I called my chemo-doctor office to inquire whether – in light of my coughing up blood – I should hold off starting the chemo. Luckily for me, my chemo nurse, Leslie, told me to hang up the phone and go to the emergency department.
(I’m stoic by nature. If I get a little sick or have a little injury, I just deal with it and move on. As I have joked a lot this past week, my arm would actually have to be severed from my body for me to think it was time to go to the hospital. ["Tis but a scratch," in the words of the Black Knight.] But, Leslie is a smart cookie. I respect her knowledge enough to know if she said it, I should do it.)
So, my husband, Matt, dropped me off at the hospital Friday afternoon – where I was admitted almost at once. Upon examination, it turned out that I had lost so much blood that my hemoglobin level was 6.3 – below the acceptable 7.0 and far below the desired 8.0. So, the transfusions began, four units over the next week, trying to get my blood level up to where it should be. (Keep in mind that my bone-marrow cancer and damaged kidneys greatly reduce my ability to make new red blood cells.)
After eight days in the hospital, I realize how very close to death I came, and how very lucky I had been to call my doctor and speak to Leslie.