Saturday, November 03, 2007

11/03/07 - Hospital Visit(s)

I saw my PCP last Tuesday (10/30/07) and they drew blood and checked some other things. My platelets had come up from 90,000 to 132,000 (I won't venture to guess why, that seems like a big increase to me - 47%). My platelets had to only be at 100,000 to receive more chemo (to knock my counts down again! - not for nothing, the whole reason for chemotherapy is to treat my disease, and hopefully obliterate it, :o). My PCP then faxed the results to Moffitt, and I then scheduled chemo.

I received my chemo (one chemo drug is taken orally (14 pills! not a problem, but I feel like I'm OD'ing!) as well as 2 anti-nausea pills, the other chemo drug is given intravenously as well as steroids (20mg), and some saline) today at 9:30AM. The chemo doesn't seem to effect me immediately, seemingly because my body is more accustomed to it. After receiving chemo, I was feeling good enough to catch the Penn State game with our local alumni club (PSU won). I'm surprised that the chemo hasn't hit me yet...

Once it does hit, the chemo usually knocks me down for about a week, during which I take the anti-nausea pills every 8hrs. I haven't been nauseous, I would imagine because I take the anti-nausea drugs as a preventative. I have chemo effects after the first week, except they usually haven't been as bad.

Oh I almost forgot. Tomorrow, I have to go to Moffitt for an injection of Neulasta that is supposed to boost my white blood cell count. This injection must be given about 24 hrs after my chemo is done. There are 4 injections that I'm supposed to receive to improve my red blood cell count, but I don't recall that drug name right now. I think its 4 doses are injections received weekly for month, but I don't recall that either. My platelet count, which has been low, supposedly can't be helped by a drug or diet. Who knows where it will be...

Other than the medical update above, I feel fine (although I expect the chemo to kick in soon), and everything else is good. Oh, my cholesterol is high even though I try to be very healthy (with exercise and diet). My high cholesterol appears to be genetic (although I have more questions for my PCP when I'm supposed to see him in two weeks). I have been taking Zocor for more than a year, but my liver enzymes have been high, so my oncologist said I should stop taking Zocor. I'll most likely have to take some other cholesterol drug, although I feel like eating as little bad cholesterol as I can, and more good cholesterol, and see if that extreme diet helps...

Who knows... I just get mad because I tried to be very healthy in the first place...

Thursday, November 01, 2007

10/25/07 - Me vs. An Air Compressor

Yep, That's the title of this entry...

Who will win?

Hmmm... I was much more excited when it happened last Friday. It's probably not that impressive now, but I started the post, so now I'll finish it.

Last Friday, I noticed it was harder to ride my recumbent three-wheeler (read "tricycle"). I looked at the wheels and noticed they were low on air. Easy solution, just put air in the tires. Since I own a small, pancake-type compressor, it should've been even easier. Not so.

I hooked up my air compressor and let it run, building pressure. It shut off at what should have been 120PSI. Looking back, it did run as long as it usually did, but I thought it may have had some previous pressure from before. Once it stopped, I tried to fill my single front tire, which was down to about 15PSI(that's very low). I put the air chuck on the tire and heard air rushing into the tube, as usual.

Me trying to figure out the compressor.

Only it wasn't as usual. The air was rushing from my tire to the compressor, most of the 15PSI it had, and now the tire was flat. When I moved the compressor, I remember the faint sound of something making a metallic noise. I went back into my storage shed and found a nice, shiny spring. It was pretty strong, and appeared to be used as a compression type. I looked for other parts, and found a black, plastic dial under the compressor itself.

I found were the spring and dial should have went on the compressor. I tried to put them back. I recognized them as regulating the output pressure. At one point in time, the plastic dial split into two pieces. I thought there was a cam on the pieces, much like the one in a push-button pen (if you ever took one apart). It still wouldn't work when I tried to put it together. I then figured out that the "cam" was actually where the plastic broke. The spring was too strong to glue the plastic.

The broken dial, outlined in green.

That was my big revelation, that the cam was a break. That's my state of mind. So, I used the manual pump on my mountain bike to somewhat inflate the front tire on my tricycle, and then I rode down to the neighborhood gas station and used their compressor to fill all three tires.

I thought I won, because I figured things out. The next day (Saturday), I spoke with my father on the phone, and told him the whole story. At the end, he asked if I fixed it, and I had to say "No." I guess the compressor won... It was smarter than me that day.

I just checked this morning and I can supposedly order the part to fix the compressor from Sears online. The part costs $15.99. The compressor will likely still win if I have to spend my $15.99.

Monday, October 29, 2007

10/29/07 - Pittsburgh Trip #2, Budville

Okay, my father goes by the nickname of "Bud." What better name for his seemingly remote (it's really only about 8 miles from Pittsburgh International Airport) 12 acres than Budville? I don't remember when the name Budville started, but it's been around for a while, and the possibly self-sufficient property continues to live up to its name.

Bud in Budville

I won't go into a bunch of details now, but I stayed there for two nights on my recent trip, and they're worth talking about. I first arrived at Budville (this time) around 2PM on Wednesday, 10/17. Then two major stories began. I'll skip the most offending details, but you should skip this post if you don't like deer hunting or "home remedies." To clarify home remedies think a swollen (severely) finger.

Oh yeah, the biggest part of Budville is Bud and what he does. You've been warned...

The dock on Budville pond.

When I arrived on Wednesday afternoon, my dad showed me his swollen finger on his right-hand. It looked like a small sledge-hammer as the just the tip was swollen. He asked my advice, and I said it looked severe enough that he should see a doctor. He thought that a doctor would probably just prescribe antibiotics, so he didn't do anything immediate about the infection. This story will now be interrupted by the second one...

My dad wanted me to show him how to burn his photos to a CD on his PC. Probably around 4:30PM, he asked me if was okay if he sat above the house until dark to do some deer hunting. I said yes, and took a nap while he headed outside. After a while, I woke up and went to look at the pictures on his PC. I found his pictures fairly organized, and the ones on his computer should fit on a standard CD. By then, it was on the darkside of dusk outside.

That's when I heard a very loud shot, and shook my head as if this didn't just happen. Sure enough, he had shot a deer with his muzzle-loader in near-darkness. He saw the deer run and jump the fence into a neighbor's yard. It quickly became very dark, almost pitch-black.

My dad called a different neighbor to bring up her brighter flashlights and help find the deer - if it stopped. I was outside by this point and all I could see were two flashlights seemingly moving randomly through the front neighbor's yard. Before finding the deer, my dad came back and put a pistol on his belt in case it was still alive.

After some looking, they did find the deer, deceased, in some brush in the neighbor's front yard. My dad came back to get his backhoe to haul the deer, because he said, "his days of dragging deer were through..." By this time, I was discussing what had just happened with the neighbor who had brought up the brighter flashlights. We both watched as the backhoe's headlights split the night and went into the other neighbor's front yard to retrieve the deer. In the meantime, the neighbor's wife came home to my dad driving his backhoe through her yard to pick up the dead deer. My dad did stop to tell her what he was doing...

Bud retrieving the deer.

My dad retrieved the deer and proceeded to clean it. I have a lot of pictures and video of this, but will spare you the details... The cleaned deer was now hanging from a tree behind my dad's house. I ended up eating a semi-cold plate of leftover lasagna around 9:15PM. I went to sleep soon after.

Back to the first story. My father had run a hair dryer on his swollen finger "as long as he could stand it." He then put a homemade dressing on it, with masking tape on the outer layer. That was well before he shot the deer...

So, he cleaned the deer with his swollen finger and homemade dressing. The final step of cleaning the deer is to squirt it out with a hose, and his dressing got wet and fell off at this time. Shortly after I went to sleep, he was able to "drain" his wound. He told me all the details. Because I was in bed, there are no photos.

Changing leaves. Budville can be so peaceful...

The next morning, we took the deer for processing. He spoke to the neighbor in whose yard the deer ended up. The neighbor responded with,"You might be a redneck if you shoot a deer in your own yard, it dies in your neighbor's front yard, you retrieve it with your backhoe, and the neighbor doesn't care."

I had flown in a little earlier and that was my first night at Budville...