Saturday, November 29, 2014

Never pray for empathy

I don't want to sound proud but I will just say that I have always taken pretty good care of my teeth.  It kind of goes along with my profession.  In the last 30 years I have had only one cavity.  I always try to be empathetic to my patients when they suffer with dental problems.  I really do care.  But to be honest I haven't had a lot of tooth problems myself so my caring about their problems doesn't come from personal experience but rather just because I love my patients.  Well, I guess that is changing.  This dumb cancer is bringing me more experiences.

My mouth is suffering the after effects of massive radiation exposure.  They told me that after 33 rounds of head and neck radiation that I had here I had my "life time maximum".  Unfortunately, as things turned out, we had to have more radiation at Mayo to save my life.  The second time around was an quite a bit more radiation than what I had received during the 33 rounds.  So, now I am like three times my life time maximum. I pretty much glow in the dark.

 I have been having more pain so my sweet wife suggested that maybe I had tooth problems.  I hadn't even thought of that since I don't ever really have tooth problems.  Knowing that she is almost always inspired I went to my office and took some x-rays.  Sure enough, my two bottom right molars had abscesses and I probably have three abscesses on the top right.  No cavities, just dead teeth.  I think that they just gave up and died from so much radiation.  Much of the bone around the teeth is also gone.  All I can say is "Darn it all!"  Honestly I would swear if I thought it would help.

I called my dear friend, Daniel Burr.  He is an endodontist and he was so kind to get me right in at his office.  The question is, how do you do a root canal treatment when you can only get your mouth open 1/2 inch?  Well, I don't know how Daniel did it, he is a magician, but he got in there and cleaned the bottom two out and medicated them.  When we have some more time we will do the top ones.  For all my patients who have had root canal treatments in the past I guess I can now join your club.  One way or another, God is going to shape me into something better I guess.  Right now He is teaching me empathy.

Other than dental adventures and dealing with some pain I am doing okay.  We are still anxious for January to arrive.  I'm getting used to taking most of my nutrition through my stomach tube.  It's a relief to not have to get everything by mouth.  JoLynne is so kind and patient.  She is always concerned about me and trying to do whatever she can to make me comfortable and healthy.  The other night I was hurting and waiting for medications to kick in.  JoLynne sat there for probably 30 minutes rubbing my feet trying to take away my pain.  She is truly angelic.  I am blessed more than I can say.

My brother in law passed away just recently.  It was such an sudden thing.  During the few months that he was ill we prayed our hearts out for him.  I can't remember a time that I have ever prayed that hard for anything.  If prayers and tears alone could heal you he would have been healed many times over.  Only God knows the whole plan.  I don't pretend to.  It was hard to see him go.  My sister Marie is a strong, faithful woman.  She will be okay but it will be lonely for her until they are together again.  How grateful I am to know, without a shadow of doubt, that death is not the end.  I can't understand how people deal with this who lack that knowledge.  I know that I will see Randy again one day, I have no doubt.  I look forward to that day.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Tubing in November

You know, I would like to go just one day besides Sunday without getting something in the mail from a doctor or hospital.  I guess that isn't going to happen soon since I keep going to see them so often.  Oh well.  My doctor, Dr. Wallentine stopped to talk today for a minute in the clinic while I was getting chemo.  He mentioned that our offices are close and that he often sees me crossing the street or getting out of my car on the side towards traffic.  He told me "I almost ran over you again the other day"  I told him, "I bet Selecthealth would pay you nicely to run over me"  He said, "Probably true but keeping you alive is my goal, so I can't run over you"

On Thursday we went to see the ENT.  I can't hardly hear at all in my right ear anymore and it feels swollen like an earache.  They did a hearing test and confirmed what I already knew, basically almost no hearing in that ear, really none in the high range and the eardrum wasn't moving right.  The doctor took a look and saw some fluid back there and recommended a tube in my ear.  They told me that it could be done at the hospital or in the office but warmed me that there would be quite a bit of pain.  I chose the office.  The anesthetic was pretty easy.  When they took a scalpel and cut my eardrum my hearing immediately got a little better.  The vacuums was loud but not so bad.  It was weird having the tube put in, I could hear it click into place.  Anyway, I feel like I am hearing better now.  And the pain they warned me about was like nothing.  I guess it is all relative.   On a scale of 1-10 that pain was like a 0.5.  I live in the 3-5 range with peak pain around 8 every day so that was nothing.  I wish that the pain of that surgery was all I had to endure.

In the meantime I had a great call from the scientist in Houston.  Basically she said that the T cells from my blood are growing really well, that she has already talked to the HER2 people so that I can move directly to that study if GD2 doesn't do what we want.  We had also wondered why they couldn't just keep adding T cells for GD2 if is was working to replenish the ones that were getting tired.  She said that we could do exactly that.  If is working I would just sign up for the study again, and they would keep giving me larger and larger doses until the cancer was defeated.  We loved the sound of that.  I wish January 5th could come sooner.