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April 28, 2021—The phlebotomy tech begins to poke an IV needle into a vein in my right hand. As part of the little stick portion of the process, he tries to distract me with small talk—a question about why I’m having an echo, questions about my overall health—and I give him a complete rundown of my present and past health woes. He looks at the plastic id cuff on my wrist and says, “You’re only 58.”
I laugh and tell him, yeah, I’m a mess, and my wife tells me I’m a mess, too.
I’m at Sutherland Cardiology today for an echocardiogram—there’s a minor concern about my heart function given that I’ve been on a new cancer treatment regimen (immunotherapy) for a while and that my blood pressure is higher than normal (for me). You may recall that I had a heart attack at the end of 2018 (see All I want for Christmas…).
As part of my rundown, I tell the tech that just this week I’ve been to Campbell Clinic for physical therapy, I’m here at Sutherland for my echo, and, tomorrow (Thursday), I’ll be at the West Cancer Center for my 11th infusion. I go on to explain about the last six weeks of PT for a torn rotator cuff and frozen shoulder, and my stage IV cancer diagnosis and treatment.
It’s enough to make your head spin…yeah, I’m a mess.
Vicki and I took a four-day road trip into the heart of the Mississippi Delta. A great trip that I documented in two parts for StoryBoard Memphis, an online publication about arts, community, and cultural of Memphis and the MidSouth. I’m proud of these pieces (Delta Diaries) along with other articles I’ve written for StoryBoard.
I’m excited that my writing has improved and is being recognized by others. I also have a short story that will appear in an upcoming local mystery anthology. (A second story is in the works for another anthology.) My long-term goal is to get a book published, and I feel closer to achieving that goal every day.
Infusion number eleven (11) was the next day (April 29th) at the West Center. While there’s nothing new to report regarding my prognosis, we were excited when the nurse practitioner told us that my lab (blood) work looked great. Liver, kidney, and other internal functions all looked really good. Couple that with how I currently feel—which is also really good—and we’re very happy.
Now, let’s hope the adrenal gland tumor shrinks. We’ll know more on June 10th.
Melanoma Awareness Month
May is Skin Cancer and Melanoma Awareness Month. As an active advocate for prevention, treatment, and, eventually, a cure, I’m involved in a number of activities, initiatives, and fund-raisers—both locally and nationally.
You’ll see a lot of Facebook posts from me about donations, support, and, of course, taking care of your skin. For obvious reasons, this issue is important to me and my family.
While donations and support are special and mean a lot to me, it’s much more important that all of you make the effort to take care of yourselves and your loved ones—especially younger ones. Excessive sun exposure and sun damage when you’re young—even one sunburn—can impact your health years down the road.
Protect your skin!
The screen shot below is from the website of Aim at Melanoma, one of the national non profit groups that I work with. You’ll see a dark blue box on the top row (almost in the middle). That’s me and that’s my sincere sentiment. I could not survive or continue on my journey without all of you!
Thanks for everything…and thanks for listening.
June 22, 2019 – Six months ago I was lying in a hospital bed wondering, “What the hell happened?”
Honestly, I knew what had happened – I had a heart attack! Actually, I had several heart attacks – myocardial infarctions – over a twenty-four hour period. It was surreal. I wasn’t supposed to have heart problems. I have plenty of issues with Stage IV cancer, so no one – myself included – was focused on my heart.
My doctors monitored my cholesterol numbers – good, but not great – and my liver values (also pretty good and stable). My heart? That was something obese people or older people worried about. Not me.
So my melanoma journey diverged to become a health journey. I not only had metastatic melanoma and any recurring skin cancers to worry about; now, I had heart problems to keep me up at night.
Once again, I was fortunate. There was no damage to my heart from the 100% blockage of my right coronary artery (RCA). My new cardiologist put a stent in my RCA and, less than 24 hours later, I went home. My release from the hospital gave new meaning to I’ll Be Home for Christmas.
Note – Here’s the link to the original post about my heart attack: All I Want for Christmas Is…
At the end of January, a thirty-six session cardio rehab stint began (see Heart Update at the bottom of Status Quo). Three times a week I spent an hour riding exercise bikes, walking on treadmills, and getting my heart rhythms monitored. Rehab grudgingly became a good routine. After almost three solid months of consistent exercise, I was feeling pretty good and looking okay. (Still need to lose another 5 – 10 pounds.)
Rehab ended in early May and my heart grew lonely (hence the title of this post). Not really. But I did miss the routine and the normalcy of rehab. The steady exercise was good for my heart and, surprisingly, my soul. During that period, I realized that I still have it in me to change. That’s the key – to want it. I have to continue to motivate myself to stay healthy.
The rest of May was hectic for us. A couple of trips along with time at the beach. My cardio routine was broken and it’s taken awhile to get it back. Sometimes good beer and good food will do that.
So, I’m now the owner of a lonely heart. It’s mine and it’s up to me to keep it beating. Like the lyrics of the original Yes song: You’ve got to want to succeed.
|Miss Susan grows some beautiful irises.|
Melanoma Update – In early June I had my six-month CT scan and blood work. Everything was virtually the same as last November. No new tumors and my existing tumors remain stable and unchanged. Great news! My dermatologist took an additional margin on my back (Ouch!) which turned out to be benign. Also, great news! (See Wake-Up Call for details.)
Heart Update – Nothing new to report (other than what you read above). I’ve been having some issues with excessive heat and humidity. Who doesn’t? I see my cardiologist at the end of July. Hope he has some answers.
Thanks for stopping by.