Sunday, August 12, 2012

Health, Farm News, Music, Branching Out

[By Peter]
Tomorrow marks the 5-month surgery date
. Here's an update of a few things:

1) Overall health is good, lab reports, e.g., cell blood counts, are all OK. Despite a good voice, a vocal cord is still paralyzed. When the collagen wears off, I can undergo a permanent procedure to move the cord over. There's a chance it may get better on its own or even stay the same, which would be OK. Still learning how to eat slower with smaller portions.

2) I took myself off the oral chemo drug about 1/2-way through the recommended 15 weeks- it was making me too lethargic and weak.

3) Exercise continues well. I tried cycling today- only went ten miles and struggled at times as stamina isn't what it should be yet. Still lifting Junior Division weights and swimming every day. The Sportsplex has required that I join a Remedial Treadmill Class, for people who slip off the back while it's moving.

4) Farm news- Cledus the Mule is terrific, getting friendlier all the time. He likes whole pears and chews like he's an Equine Juicer, i.e., when he chomps the pear, green juice runs down his mouth and nose like he's a juice faucet.  Susan rode him the other day and he was a good boy.

5) A great choice of events on Saturday night, August 18-
    A) At the Cat's Cradle in Chapel Hill, "Healin' With A Feelin'- A Night Of Burnin' Love"; a benefit for the NC Jaycee
Burn Unit at UNC-Hos
pitals. Organized by Kim and Stephanie Anderson to recognize Kim's successful recovery from burn injuries.  The event raises money to buy sun-protective clothing and gear for discharged patients. A silent auction at 7 PM and four terrific music groups. See Susan's column in today's Chapel Hill Herald:;

      B) Red's Rhythm featuring the phabulous Stacey Curelop at The Depot in Hillsborough, 8:15 PM;

      C) Dinner at the Schley Grange, 5-7 PM, corner of Highway 57 and Schley Rd., Northern Orange County.

6) Our good friend Holli Crawford gave another blood platelet donation at the Red Cross in Durham this weekend. Please contact me if you're curious about doing this and want to learn more.

7) Music- I've been branching out with different kinds of music. Here are a few photos of me with a mariachi band in Carrboro and with Yo Yo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble last year:


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Off the Xeloda

It is time once again to refill our salt shaker.

You may remember that the last time I refilled it the stopper came out as I was salting Peter's dinner, and the whole thing dumped into his meal.  Rather than confess, I tried to scoop all the excess salt out of his food, but it didn't work.  He wrote about it in a post he titled "Assalted."

A lot has transpired since that post.  That was early January, partway through the chemo and radiation and  over two months before Peter's surgery.  We're four and a half months post-surgery now, and I am still surprised by the ups and downs of recovery.

Many of the recent downs have been caused by the oral chemo (Xeloda).  After seeking numerous opinions, Peter gave it a shot on the outside chance that it might do him some good.  The full prescription would be for five cycles of three weeks, with two weeks on the drug and one week to recover.  In the first two rounds he was mostly ok until the last few days of the second week, and then he seemed to recover pretty quickly.  Both times, in those bad days, he considered quitting, but he really wanted to make it to the halfway mark if possible, and he did.

Throughout the weeks on the drug Peter seldom missed a day of working out.  He and our friend Joe Coates lift weights together every other day, and Peter swims laps in the pond almost every afternoon, always accompanied by our four dogs.  Our new pup, Shady, is an enthusiastic swimmer and does her own laps, often for as long as 20 minutes at a stretch.

Peter started the third round of Xeloda sometime around the 23rd of July.  By Friday, the 27th, he was feeling so bad that he was seriously considering quitting the drug, but it was a heavy decision and very difficult for him.  We left that day for our friends Emily and Evan's wedding celebration in North Georgia.  That night Peter felt so bad that he chose to quit and did not take the evening dose of the chemo.

The next day our good friends Marty and Wendy drove up from Atlanta to see us, and with them we walked a short (50 yards) but steep distance from our cabin to the main building at Blackbear Lodge.  Peter became so weak that we commandeered a golf cart to take him the rest of the way and then back to the cabin.  I was worried he would fall out of the cart.

But once he got back to the cabin and cooled off and drank some, he was fine.  We spent the afternoon in the pool and the evening playing fiddle tunes with the Georgia Mudcats (and I danced).  It was a very fun day despite the scare, and we enjoyed sharing the weekend with Amanda and Alejandro as well.  Amanda and Emily have been friends since they met in Spain in High School.

On the drive home Peter started feeling bad again around Burlington, and was so out-of-it by the time we got to Hillsborough that he asked me why I was turning onto St. Mary's Road.  When we got to our house he could not get out of the car, but would not let me take him to the doctor.

I was scared, and called Jessie to come be a reinforcement, and we got him in the house.  Again, once he got horizontal he improved dramatically.  He even went to a Grange event just a couple of hours later, but we wouldn't let him drive.

So it was clear to me that this was a blood pressure problem, but the question that remained was why had his bp crashed?  By thinking back through the events of the past 24 hours and asking Peter questions, we realized (with the help of his oncology PA, Margot), that Peter had thrown up Sunday night and then not had anything to drink but coffee and coke (both dehydrating) in the 18 hours or so since.

So now he has staying hydrated added to his must-do  list, but he had to pay attention to that during the radiation treatment, too. Hopefully, off the Xeloda, the digestive issues will ease, the appetite will return, and along with that more energy to do the things he is eager to do.  

Peter's voice is still hanging in there, but with occasional hints it might be fading.  Tomorrow morning (6th) he has appointments both with his oncologist and to have his vocal cord checked again.  Cross your fingers on the latter.

This past weekend Peter was able to play with his band for the wedding of two former interns from the program I work with. So-- two delightful weddings two weekends in a row. That band, Red's Rhythm is playing again at the Depot on the 18th. Mark your calendars.

I am working half-time this year, and planning a fall garden for the first time in years.  We're getting a deer fence put up in time to break ground really soon.  Any and all suggestions welcome!