The week between my
treatment on Friday, 11-16-01,
and Thanksgiving Day on the 22nd found me getting stronger by the day.
On Saturday, 11-17-01,
a Physical Therapist came by the house to see how I'm doing with the
wheelchair and walker, dealing with bathroom needs and generally assessing
the house and what I might need to navigate it better. I think I
surprised her with the fact that I'm walking instead of bed and
It's still difficult getting to a standing position and I don't move very
fast after I do, but I'm getting better at it with every passing
day. My legs, ankles and feet are still pretty swollen, but not as
much as last week. I can finally sleep on my side again - something
I've missed since I bloated up over a month ago. It feels good, but
I have to be careful not to rest one foot on the other or on my ankle, or
it leaves a big dent and is sore for hours. I learned that one the
hard way. OUCH!!
Anyway, the therapist showed me some exercises to do with my legs and
ankles to strengthen them. Most were pretty easy, like making little
circles and stuff. Basically, what anyone else might call
"limbering up" type exercises. The leg lifts are something
that I can feel every time I do them though. I sit in a chair and
extend my lower leg straight out in front of me 15 times, then do the same
with the other leg. Oh yeah!! I can feel that!!
She said I'm doing really well, and she expects to visit me twice
more. She checked my balance before she left by having me stand up,
hold her hands to keep steady and then stand on one foot. I thought
it was going well until she let go of my hands. I have no
balance! What a shock! I'd have fallen right over if I hadn't
put my other foot down AND caught her hands again. Gonna have to
work on that.
After the therapist left, Casey, mom and I went to the theater to see
the movie, Monsters,
Inc. And I walked. I wasn't sure how well that was going
to go, but I had to give it a try. The theater was really close to
the lobby though and I made it to my seat and then had an hour and a half
to rest before having to walk back out to the car, so it worked out
fine. It's good to have that little bit of independence. We
all had a great time and thought it was a really good, fun movie.
If you know me, you know I love cartoons.
Afterwards, mom bought us all
dinner at Ryanís.
While watching the
movie, I had a thought come at me from nowhere that the big blue monster
was just doing his job: Monster. Later,
at dinner, I saw the people working in the restaurant and thought about
how theyíre just doing their jobs; waitress, carver, busboy, cashier.
Then I started thinking about how people see themselves and how
Iíve seen myself over the years.
Way back in 1976 I
was a sailor. Then I was a
machinist. Then I was a
warehouseman, then a grunt, then a lineman, a top hook, a splicer, a tech,
a Q.C., a supervisor, a project manager. That's how I've identified
myself over the years. I've always been my job title. To quote
a famous actor: "I yam what I yam!" ~ Popeye
Then I tried to identify myself again. Suddenly, sitting there, I
saw myself as Iíve never seen myself before.
I am a cancer patient. Itís
my new job, my position in life at this moment; itís what I do.
That was a sobering thought.
My new job is Cancer
Patient. As such, I exercise
my legs like the physical therapist taught me, take my medication, pay
attention to little things I might be feeling so I can report them to the
doctor, plan my next trip to the Cancer
Treatment Center, update my new cancer web pages, research my cancer
and surrounding info and stuff like that.
I think part of what
led up to it is all the paperwork that has to be filled out for all this
medical and insurance stuff. Itís
a little generic, after all. It
makes some assumptions. It
has places for you to fill in the blanks about your occupation, company
you work for, work phone number, and the like.
I have to pause every time I get to them.
I donít go to work anymore. I mean, not at a regular job
like I have for the last 25 years. I
don't have a "work phone number" anymore. You can't reach
me on my cell phone because I don't have one.
suddenly dawned on me that Iíve lost that part of myself.
Itís gone. At
least for now. I wonder if Iíll get that part of me back or
not. No one can tell me for
sure. I mean, sure, we all
say itís going to happen. We
all say Iíll get better and stronger until I can return to work, but
nobody really knows if thatís true or not.
We have to wait and see what
happens. There's no way to predict it yet. We just
donít say that. We stay
positive. But it crosses my mind from time to time. It's part of
being a cancer patient. That's my new job.
make cancer cells and work on ways to limit their
production... I guess that would make me a... Carcinogenic
EngineerÖ? Now, THERE's
something for the ol' resume, eh? Hmmm...
The nurse that gave me the 2nd Rituxan
treatment said my heart beats faster than normal.
About 100 per minute. She
asked if thatís normal for me. I
didnít know. Now Iím acutely aware of my heartbeat. It seems fast. Too
fast? Dangerously fast?
How would I know? That's my new job as a cancer patient; To
think about stuff like that.
I'm getting lots of email from people I've known or worked with over the
years that just heard I have cancer. The news is spreading all over
the country like, well, like a cancer! They're sorry to hear
it, wish me well, tell me they're glad to see I'm staying upbeat and
positive about dealing with it. I just think it's good to hear from
them. It's been like a reunion of old, familiar faces and
names. If you haven't written yet, I'd like to hear from you too!
The rest of the week went well. I continue with my exercises, feel
stronger every day and do lots of research to get to know my cancer on a
personal level so I can kick it's ass when it least expects it! (I'm
not above fighting dirty!!)
For Thanksgiving I went to my niece Star's house. She had all the
traditional foods and there was lots of family there that I haven't seen
in a long time. It was really great. I can't remember the last
time I had Thanksgiving dinner with family. I've been on the road
for over 20 years building cable systems, so I usually just end up at a
nearby truck stop or restaurant for my yearly turkey special and a phone
call to the family to tell them I love them and miss them.
I gave thanks this year that I'm with my family, that I'm alive and
feeling much better, that my wheelchair is still parked and that cancer
treatments have come a long way in my lifetime. So join with me as I
raise my glass of Sprite in a toast to science and medicine!
(...gulp... burp... ahhhhh...)
Rituxan # 3