Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Still kicking

It has been a while since I last sat down to chronicle my journey through cancer.  Partially it's because I am lazy, but mostly it has been the difficulty of the last two weeks.  Chemotherapy has been a lot more harsh than I expected.  For the 14 days following chemotherapy my energy and well being steadily declined until I hit the bottom last Wednesday.    That's not to say that I didn't have times when I felt better.  For three or four days I felt well enough to go to work in the morning but then I would come home and crash.  Twice I felt bad enough that I had to go to the clinic and have fluids and medications given.  Wednesday morning I woke up and had no energy.  Just walking to the bathroom would exhaust me.  My ear was swollen near the surgery site and I had a fever.  We have two thermometers so my temperature was either 100.8 or 101.4, depends on which thermometer we believed.   We called the nurse and she sent us to the Emergency room.  It was a long day.  They drew blood, took urine, took x-rays etc.  Finally they came in and the ER doctor sat by my bed and said, "Your white blood count is in the toilet.  You have no white blood cells left except a few we found in your urine and you have an infection.  We are going to have to admit you to the hospital."  I was barely conscious and not liking what I was hearing.  They started me on IV antibiotics through my port and pushed fluids by the oncologists orders.  After a couple of hours they came back and had decided that because my son-in-law is a nurse they would let me go home if I wanted.  Heck, I wasn't anxious to stay in the hospital.  That's were you get really bad infections.  We were glad to be discharged.  The nurse came in to take out the needle in my port.  She kind of woke me up and said, "You are going to feel a tug as I pull this out".  Just as she said that this voice went off in my head.  "Don't let her pull it without flushing the port and heparin!"  I woke up just in time and asked her about the flush and heparin.  Her countenance just dropped.  "I can't believe I almost forgot that".  She left the room to get what she needed to do it right.  A port is like a little plastic box in my chest that connects directly to my major blood vessels that enter my heart.  If you don't rinse it you can end up with infections in them, very nasty. The heparin keeps the box from filling up with clotted blood, again a very nasty  and dangerous problem.  I was so grateful that I was protected.  The nurse really felt bad and I told her, don't worry, the important thing is that we remembered.  I'm glad for that prompting.

The next day was Thanksgiving.  I was going to write a blog about so many things I was thankful for but I just couldn't get up enough energy.  I told JoLynne, I feel like I have a great engine and one teaspoon of gas.  Every time I would get up I would have to lay back down and get my teaspoon back again.  I did feel well enough to sit at the table with everyone for about half an hour which was nice.  From that point on my energy has been returning.  Everyday I have felt better than the day before, more energy, less tired, less pain.  Somedays, I feel almost normal.

Yesterday my hair started falling out in earnest.  Every time I would run my hands through my hair my hands would come out full of hair.  I didn't expect this to bother me so much as a man but it really did.  For the last few days I kept having nightmares of my hair all being on my pillow in the morning or something like that.  I told JoLynne that I was going to pray that I woke up with all my hair gone and that she had a 3 inch pony tail.  She laughed and didn't think God would allow that miracle.  Well, I finally got tired of watching it fall out slowly and we decided to cut it all off last night.  Mike, my son-in-law, wanted to cut his hair as well, which I kept telling him was unnecessary but he insisted.  We got Seth online via Skype so that he could watch the festivities through the computer.  First Mike cut off my hair than I cut his.  Then Spencer popped up and said he wanted his off as well.    Spencer's hair is amazing,  thick and soft and so full.  Kind of a shame to cut it but he insisted.  So three heads got bald that night.  Several men in the high priests quorum have offered to cut their hair as well.  Gee, it's going to be cold winter for all of us.  Today, Seth sent an email from China.  He went to the barber the next day and had his hair cut as well.  We didn't go all the way bald since I worry about cutting myself with a razor while on chemo so it's just really short.  I went in to shower and looked at myself in the mirror after the hair cut.  I decided that  I look like one of the pictures of the Jews in the concentration camps.  Mostly bald and so pale and emaciated due to the chemo.  Lucky for the rest of the world that I wear clothes.  Trust me, it isn't pretty.
Sampson before Delilah
What I was getting every time I touched my hair
Not quite as bald as Bishop but I am working on it

Bald is beautiful

Even in China


  1. We miss you! Thanks for the post. (I check every day!!)

    Hang in there!


  2. Thanks goodness for that prompting. That is amazing Eric. I hope you fee better soon. I am pulling for you.

  3. Glad to hear you are still tougher than nails Eric. I am so glad you're putting in the effort to maintain this blog. You truly are inspirational.

  4. I just wrote a huge letter to you.... It is somewhere in cyber space now.... To sum it up.... I just let you know how much you are loved and especially by me. I am so glad you are keeping a record of all of this. It was so good to see you...... You should talk to Lois sometime.... She is a two time survivor and over five years cancer free. She and Penny both had methotrexate and it was devistating to both of them. But they lived. God has blessed us so much! Jolynn is a saint...... I love your family. Let me know if there is ANYTHING I can do for your family! I LOVE YOU!

  5. Bald IS beautiful! William matches you guys perfectly!! I am so sorry about all the difficulties you are dealing with. I hope things get easier soon! We love you

  6. I think to myself, "If it wouldn't have mattered, there wouldn't have been a prompting. Since there was, his life was just spared. Cool."

    Also, I love how you help yourself to smile for your photos--there is an awesome lesson/example in that. Keep it up :)

  7. I think you are so amazing, and your family is such a strong support. I too, am sad that you are going through all of this, but you are such a great example to all of us.
    Thanks for the inspiration, and for your encouraging words.

  8. Thank you for the update. It must be such a comforting blessing to feel God's love for you in this trying time. I too think you are amazing, and I flop between wanting to laugh and cry about your experiences. It is wonderful to see your amazing family and the support they give to you. It made me smile to see your smile in the photos. You have an extended support of fellow dentists that all care about you. I pass their love on to you. Please, let us know if there is ANYTHING we can do for you, or your family. Keep up the hard work of healing.
    Cynthia Chamberlain

  9. Your short haircuts remind me of the service. Keep smiling and paying attention to the details. You're an inspiration to me.

  10. Hey, Not bad brother. I think you look a lot like Chris now. He always gets a nice short cut like that for the summer. Don't worry. It will grow back before you know it and you will get better too. I'm sure the Lord has something in mind for you or you wouldn't have made it this far yet. We love you. Keep being brave.