Throat cancer - a year or so later. Some great - some good - some suckage.
Throat Cancer Update 2015 - so, as the date of my last treatment grows even more distant my overall response when folks ask me "How are you doing" is kinda like Snoopy here. All happy dance and what not.
After all - I keep going in for check ups with all the various doctors involved in my treatment and they keep giving me Grrrrrrrr-eat news:
On top of getting good reports from the Medicos on a consistent basis, I have my own gauges of success to go by. First, I ain't dead. I am cool with that. Secondly, I am getting stronger all the time. I can handle the cold temps of The Mitten waaay better this year than last. I can sing full out most of the time - my weight hangs out at 200 lbs with hardly any variance. Thanks to medical marijuana (I drink tea and use edibles) most of my nights are actually spent sleeping. The pot tea helps with my appetite as well. Since my taste buds are still toast, I can use the boost in that department.
I am thankful the voters in Michigan made Medical Marijuana a reality. It has helped me tremendously with anxiety and not being able to sleep. It is too bad that the folks at the Metro Cancer Center do not incorporate the use of it as a treatment option for their patients. Marijuana has helped a shit ton of people who are fighting cancer - make it a treatment option ladies and gentlemen.
When I brought it up with my doctors they looked at me like I asked them to drop trou. Thankfully, I was able to obtain a license to get medical marijuana - it cost $125 for the appointment and another $125 to register with the state and get my card. Wish I had had one DURING my treatment, but better late than not at all.
I get inspiration from many of my musical heroes. Take Chrissie Hynde - Julie and I recently saw her in concert. I believe she is 64 years old - well, she is looking and sounding great. Todd Rundgren keeps on like a wild man - tours and new music all year round. Shoot, I am even playing a bit part in his Spirit of Harmony Foundation. SOH works to promote music education for all kids and I am a contributor to the SOH blog. That is a real treat for me - been a fan of TR since 1973. Should you be so inclined, you can read my stuff here: Cliff on SOH blog.
Anyway - these folks inspire me with their music AND just by virtue of the fact that they are still upright and kicking ass. That inspires me to stretch, practice my drums, exercise, eat right, and even spend a few minutes a day upside down. Overall, life post cancer treatment is good.
On the other hand I do miss my taste buds. Maybe if Julie Claire was not such a good cook - maybe if eating and food was not such a major part of our social lives - maybe if I lived in another country that did NOT have such an abundance of food choices available, I would not miss taste as much. But I live with a terrific cook in 21st Century Murka. And so it goes......
Sometimes it seems as if my buds r getting better. My smeller still works and there are times when I really think I can taste what I am smelling. I still cough up Bott Snot from time to time (lung stuff named for Dr. Bott - my favorite radiation doc). The neuropathy in my feets is doing better - I have been taking an amino acid - the DLPA seems to help with the neuropathy.
Another positive effect of the radiation has been that I have a very low appetite/tolerance for sugar. In days of old I would happily scarf up tons of sweets. Often I would ask Julie Claire NOT to make cookies or some other treat because I tended to overdo. These days if something is too sweet, I cannot eat it comfortably. So, cancer treatment probably saved me from diabetes......
Probably the worst lingering side effect of cancer is the one on my (our) check book.
This just in: Getting Sick In The USA is EXPENSIVE!
To me it is a mystery that we are the ONLY developed country on the planet that does not provide ALL of its citizens with health care. The irony is that we are all paying for it anyway. Every time someone goes to the ER because they do not have insurance or a regular doctor - we all pay for it.
We should just adopt a Single Payer plan like every other country and get on with it. We really screwed ourselves when we made caring for the sick a Profit Center.
How about all the fundraisers we have in order to help families in need because someone in the household (or more than one someone) got sick?
On the plus side, Metro Hospital let me pay my deductible and all the subsequent bills using a 24 month, no interest payment plan. I also pay the doctors and/or their medical groups on a monthly basis. When it is all said and done the impact is $490 to $590 a month out of my (our) pocket(s). I will be paying that amount for another 24 months or so - every time I go in for a 3 or 6 month check up it costs another $450 to $500 which tacks another month onto the payment plan.
$490 takes a real bite out of a budget, yes it does. But thankfully it is manageable.
In addition our monthly premiums have almost doubled - BUT at least the insurance company could NOT refuse to insure me thanks to the Affordable Healthcare Act. One of the terrible things that happened to people post cancer treatment in the past is that they would find their coverage cancelled.
How perfect is (was) that from a Corporate Profit point of view? Hey - now that you ACTUALLY USED a product that YOU PAID FOR because you needed it, we are going to stop you from buying any more of it.
Folks, I don't care what side of the political aisle you live on, it is absolutely MORONIC that the number one cause of bankruptcy in this country is because of medical bills.
I will dismount my soapbox and leave you with a couple reasons to smile.
This guy right here is Derek Massey - he did me the honor of playing with my name on the back of his jersey in the Pink Arrow game in 2014. The Pink Arrow Project has raised hundreds of thousands to benefit people in the Lowell School District who are fighting cancer - including moi.
Thanks to Derek and ALL the Pink Arrows.
Another POSITIVE - I need to give a shout out to Dr. White. She sees me once a month and she works with my head - by that I mean she has been tremendously helpful in helping me to deal with the mental peaks and valleys (not too many peaks - lotsa valleys) that come along for many of us when battling cancer. She has helped immensely.
One of my favorite things about Dr. White is that she gives me exercises and books and hand out sheets with things TO DO in order to fight back at the demons hollering in my head (well, not so much anymore, more of a whimper these days). She gave me some breathing exercises that I have incorporated into my morning routine - it is AMAZING what deep breathing can accomplish.
The Breathing Shizzle
Get comfortable in a straight backed chair with your feet on the floor.
Begin by breathing in for 7 seconds, holding it for 7 and exhaling for 7.
Make sure when you inhale that you fill your lungs from the bottom up - use your diaphragm to draw it in deep. Keeping the oxygen rich air inside for 7 seconds makes full use of it and exhaling for 7 makes sure you are getting it all out.
Do the above for a few repetitions.
Then inhale, cross your arms at the elbow - tense them up and lift them and hold
for 10 seconds. (On all of these tension holds I inhale for 7, then get tense for the 7 seconds I am holding it in and for the first 3 seconds of the exhale)
Do the 7-7-7 breath exercise.
Inhale - make your face tense and pucker like you just drank straight lemon juice
for ten seconds - exhale.
Do the 7-7-7
Inhale - and tense up your stomach area - exhale.
Do the 7-7-7
Inhale - lift your legs straight out from the chair and tense them up - exhale.
Repeat all the above one time.
Lastly - I found some cool ass 80's looking shades recently.
I'm bad - I'm nationwide.