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Monthly Archives: March 2013

Day 248 – Frozen

My name is Rick and my cancer status is unknown…

One year ago yesterday (3/30/12) I saw my dermatologist complaining of an itchy, bleeding spot on the top of my head.  The doctor examined the spot and said it was nothing to worry about.  He was going to freeze it off and instructed me to wait and see what happens.  Since it was on the top of my head, he asked my daughter who was in the exam room with me at the time (long story) to examine the spot in a few weeks after the freezing healed.  If it came back as the same brown spot as it was at the time of the visit, we should come back and see him.  He assured us that he froze it thoroughly and we shouldn’t expect it to come back at all.  The spot that he chose to freeze off instead of biopsy was a melanoma lesion that eventually spread to my lymph nodes.  The spot never turned brown again because there was a scar from the freezing.

I did a little traveling a few days back with my kids +1 (friend of my youngest).  My wife stayed behind to take care of herself and her mom.  It was a great trip and some of this entry was composed the morning of the last day.  We visited with my uncle and cousins the first day.  It was great to see them.  Then we toured Duke and UNC.  It was wonderful to be able to share my daughter’s excitement about seeing these top schools.  What was even better (for me) was her immediate dislike of Duke.  It was clear from the outset that the campus was different and a mismatch; she noticed that there was a pretense about the place.  She wanted to like it in order to razz me but she just couldn’t get there.  It was my first time on campus and I don’t plan on going back.  Beautiful yes, likable no.  Of particular note, Duke just got bounced from the NCAA tournament tonight… all good in my constellation.  A called a buddy while on campus so I could share the weird feeling of the visit.

On the last day of the trip, we headed out in the morning to tour DC.  There we spent a few hours walking around the mall and having a goofy good time.  Once sated with the monuments, we headed up to University of Maryland for a visit.  We did just a driving tour but nevertheless, my daughter loved the place.  It was great to share such an important part of my life and to be able to see it from her perspective.  It would be a hoot if she chose to go there… I think it is a good fit for her but we are just at the beginning of the journey.

I am trying to regain my physical energy.  During the trip to NC, I walked with my daughter through two big college campuses.  I felt great, not tired.  What I have not been able to do lately is workout to exhaustion.  I cannot seem to work up a sweat as well.  In the mornings, I stretch, do situps and pushups.  I am now working on exercises that build muscle and increase my cardio.  Deep knee bends or burpees get me really tired really fast.  I am also experimenting with variations on planking.  My goal is to get to at least 30 minutes of this type of exercise each day.  Dry mouth is a problem.

Over the last two days I have been painting in the basement.  It is tough physical work because I have to contort in order to paint up in the joists.  I have been trying to get around to this task for weeks and I am glad to finally get to it.  While it is unpleasant work (I seriously loath painting!), I am looking forward to converting a portion (about 250 sq ft) of the basement into something useful.  My vision for the space includes a storage space for excess cooking stuff, a spare range for big entertaining, an art area and small electronics shop.  The painting is not for aesthetics but rather to control dust from the old beams and bare concrete walls / floor.  I estimate it will take about 20 hours to paint and I am about 1/3rd of the way in.

I stopped taking steroids the day we left for the trip south.  I didn’t notice much difference except for an odd buzz I get in my lower body.  I have no idea if that is related to the weaning process but it was quite noticeable.  My salivary glands are acting up a bit (e.g. my mouth is dry a lot) but I don’t expect this to be a big problem.  I had an appointment with my radiation oncologist on Tuesday and received a clean bill of health.  My weight was below an acceptable BMI cut off so I then received a call from the nutritionist.  It is true that my weight is down but not a worry.  I have been hovering at 125 for a while and simply lost a few pounds while I was sick last week.  I struggle to eat in a such a way as to gain weight (e.g. high calorie foods).  The cold that kicked my butt about 10 days ago is still lingering.  I am trying to keep it at bay but fear it may be coming back.

I wonder if the problem I have shedding this cold relates to possible melanoma of the mucus membranes.  It is a little scary to think about but it is highly unlikely.  Or is it given my now cancerous history?  This is just a wonder because I cannot control it…. there is nothing I can do about it so I just don’t think about it.  Or at least, I don’t think about it very much.  How do they even detect melanoma of the mucus membranes?