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Small, Patchy, Parenchymal Opacities

October 10, 2019 4 comments

I had my “routine“, tri-monthly CT scan of my chest, abdomen, and pelvis on Tuesday. I haven’t followed up with my oncologist yet but I have the CT scan report in hand. It basically says:

  • The two enlarged lymph nodes that were radiated 10 times each in August have shrunk considerably.
  • The original 4 tumors in my right lung are still “under control“.
  • No new cancer spots were detected anywhere in my chest, abdomen, or pelvis.
  • There seems to be some relatively minor, but not unanticipated, collateral damage from the radiation beams as they zeroed in on the well-hidden lymph node located behind my stomach, in front of my spine, and straddled by two blood vessels. The damage manifests on the scan as “small, patchy, parenchymal opacities in the lateral right upper lobe“.

My favorite words on the report are:

No new or progressive metastatic disease.

So, the fight goes on! Next week I have the followup for the CT scan with my oncologist and a brain MRI with neurosurgeon followup. Wish me luck for yet another 3 month reprieve from the emperor of all maladies!

Categories: Cancer

“V” For Victory

October 6, 2019 6 comments

After about every third shower I take, I get a nasty cramp in my right foot while I’m dressing such that my big toe starts signaling “V” for victory. Compared to other cramps I get, the “V” is not that bad.

As soon as I jam close the gap with my new, badass, Bombas socks, all is well again.

I know, I know, it’s “Bombas” and not “Bambas”. It was taking me too long to change the “A” to an “O”, so I said fuk-it.

Categories: Cancer

Two Wardrobes, Right?

September 20, 2019 1 comment

Since this blog is all about me, me, me, here’s what happened this week… to ME.

  • I had a 2 hour MRI of the thoracic and cervical regions of my back on Tuesday.
  • I finally ditched the Cardio Event Monitor (CEM) today after wearing it virtually 24 X 7 for a whole month.

The purpose of the MRI is to determine if something in/on my spine is contributing (along with one of my brain tumors) to the increasing numbness creeping up my whole right leg. The purpose of wearing the CEM is to determine if I have occasional Afib events, one of which that might have knocked a piece of plaque loose from somewhere and caused my small stroke back in July.

Since I’m not claustrophobic, I have no problem getting MRIs. However, about 1 hour and 45 minutes into this one my lower back started to ache because of the extreme flatness of the table. I was dying to move just a little bit to ease the ache but I didn’t want to blur the images. So, I counted sheep for a little while and then I switched to the classic meditation practice of counting breaths to distract my mind from the pain. I made it through without moving. Phew!

The first thing I did when I woke up this morning was rip the CEM electrodes off my torso and pack the equipment up for shipping back to the supplier. Whoo hoo! While wearing the CEM, my favorite line to people was “Watch out, I’m rigged to blow!“. Obviously, I intended it as a low key joke and I made sure I didn’t say it while I was at a store or where there was a large gathering of people. And you didn’t think I was that smart, right? Well, I’m not, but every once in awhile the universe infuses me with a fleeting glimpse of what it would be like to be a stable genius.

The last thing I’d like to share is that by the end of next week I’ll be fully weaned off steroids again for the umpteenth time. I’ll be able to stop (as a dear friend would say) “eating like an asshole” and drop the 8 lbs I piled on over the last month.

Every time I go on/off the ‘roids I have to switch between my fat-me and normal-me wardrobes. Or, more accurately, my fat-me and my less-fat-me wardrobes. Everyone maintains 2 wardrobes like that for those diet-on and diet-off days, right?

Oooh, oooh, oooh! And just one more last thing. I wrote this post a little “high“. My feet started to “heat” up a little while ago so I rubbed in some “Australian Dream” cream and squirted a little c-tincture beneath my tongue. It felt like it took forever to write the post and I made a bazillion typos, and I had to “iterate” on it about 2 bazillion times before I pushed the publish button. Please report typos so I can fix them.

Categories: Cancer

Profiles In Well-Being

September 10, 2019 Leave a comment

The graph below attempts to capture BD00’s understanding of the time-varying nature of a person’s level of well being after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Pre-diagnosis, life is good. Mental and physical states are at a person-specific, baseline level of health. Then comes the big chill: “You have inoperable stage 4 cancer“. D’oh!

Sometime after the cheerful diagnosis, one’s physical health starts deteriorating and then one’s mental health hitches a ride on the luge of death careening down the mountain.

Of course, this is not “an everyone” curve. It’s a coarse model of what I think has been happening to me. I’ve been riding the luge for 3 years because either the mountain I’m on is pretty flat, or the brake is halfway stuck on, or both.

Our next profile is a very sad one, “The Breakdown Profile“. As soon as the terminal diagnosis is absorbed, the anxiety, fear, and depression quickly sets in, precluding the decline in physical health. This one hits home for me because I’ve experienced several cavernous depressions over the years way before the cancer diagnosis.

And then we have Nirvana, “The Buddha Profile“…..

Categories: Cancer

Inputs, Processing, Outputs

August 30, 2019 2 comments

Besides a handful of friends and family, I think this blog has three types of reader archetypes: engineers, cancer patients, and cannabis users. LOL. Since I personally fall into all three classifications, I’m going to try to experimentally mashup all three topics in this post and pray that it ends up being weirdly interesting in some way to each group. By that, I mean that if you make it to the end of this post you may end up shaking your head and thinking “this BD00 guy is fuckin’ nutz!“.

 

 

For The Software Engineers

In the pre-agile days of software development (before the exalted 2001 agile manifesto was written/signed), software functionality was defined and documented in “Software Requirements Specifications” (SRS). Defense contractors on large-dollar, socio-technical, projects were required to deliver a formal SRS document for each major Software Configuration Item (SCI) identified in the system to be developed.

Each SCI was decomposed into functions consisting of “Inputs, Processing, Outputs“.

For The Cannabis Users

Assuming that the “Desired Output” we require our system to produce is a stash of tasty cannabis infused brownies to alleviate pain and stress/anxiety, here’s the specific instantiation of the Inputs/Processing/Outputs string we require:

As you’ll notice, the list of Inputs/Processing/Outputs alone is insufficient for a “developer” (a.k.a. chef) to create the desired output. In order to prevent a guessing game and fucking everything up, the developer requires a chemistry-backed algorithm that scientifically transforms the inputs into the desired output using the processing equipment to facilitate the process.

To achieve that goal, BD00 is proud to present a textually annotated graphical model of his proprietary algorithm specifying the sequence of steps, timing, and control actions required to magically transform heavenly cannabis flower into deliciously effective pot brownies.

 

Note that the “developer” must do these 3 things in sequence to get to the holy grail:

  1. Place the cannabis buds in the decarb box and heat the box in the oven at 240 degrees for 40 minutes. This prep step allows the THC/CBD cannabinoids in the flower to be exposed and absorbed by the coconut oil fats more readily and efficiently than skipping the step.
  2. Combine the decarbed flower with the coconut oil in the herbal infuser and run the machine for 1 hour at 160 degrees. The temperature and timing settings ensure that most THC/CBD chemical products end up integrated with the oil molecules instead of being wasted in the “external environment“.
  3. After the cannabis oil is created, the remaining sub-steps to produce the desired output is a piece of cake. The developer simply follows the idiot-proof instructions printed on the brownie box.

Of course, less efficient but less costly approaches don’t require a kool decarb box ($40) or elegant herbal infuser ($130) to be used. YouTube has plenty of hilariously good videos on using mundane and readily available kitchen equipment to make the brownies.

For The Cancer Patients

This is by far the easiest section of the post to write….

 

Got any kestions folks?

Categories: Cancer, Cannabis

The Big Four

August 25, 2019 1 comment

Because they are the bane of my existence and a constant reminder that I’m a “lucky” cancer patient, I’ve written about them several times before. However, I finally concocted a name for these assholes because they tend to act together in unison like an organized gang of thugs: “The Big Four”.

  • Peripheral Neuropathy (PN) in both of my feet
  • Numbness up and down my right leg
  • Ringing throughout my whole head (not just tinnitus in my ears)
  • Lightheadedness (not quite dizziness)

I should really be calling them “The Big Four And A Half“, with the “HALF” part being a sensitivity to temperature, spiciness, and “contact with crunchy food” inside my mouth.

For the most part, the aggregate foursome tends to randomly get worse or get better all at once. At worst, which seems to be happening more and more, I can’t leave my house for several consecutive days. I am held hostage by the emperor’s evil soldiers. At best, I can leave the house alone but I have to be very cautious and acutely aware of my walking and driving acumen so as not to fall or trigger a car accident.

My theory once again (which no doctor has yet refuted) is that the swelling in my brain ebbs and flows as a side effect of my periodic Opdivo immunotherapy infusions and the swelling triggers the flareups.

Since I’ve been on/off them many times over the last three years, I know that steroids definitely decrease the frequency of brain inflammation, and hence, the flareups. Thus, due to the latest flareup I’m back on low dose steroids (2 mg decadron per day) for the umpteenth time. I hope to wean off them again soon because the fewer drugs in my system the better. Except for cannabinoids of course 🙂

Sometimes the foursome doesn’t act in unison, particularly the PN in my feet. It will flareup independently of, and more often than, the other three jerkfaces. I’ll often successfully mitigate the pain and discomfort with a good topical cream (Australian Dream) and either a brownie “one hitter” or a generous dose of cannabis tincture.

Categories: Cancer

Rigged To Blow!

August 21, 2019 Leave a comment

Yesterday, I met with my “Recurrent And Metastatic CAncer Group” (RAMCAG). It was a sad meeting because there were three anxious, shell-shocked, newly diagnosed, comrades in attendance. However, I think they were in much better spirits after they left than when they entered because they were relieved to see so many multi-year survivors in their midst. The longest surviving group member, who has battled 2 different cancers over the years, has 17 years under his belt!

Today, I visited my radiologist and a new specialist – a “stroke neurologist“. The visit to my radiologist was a follow up to my 10 “hot” dates with Burnadette Radner. It was basically a “we won’t know how well the radiation worked on your two enlarged lymph nodes until your next scheduled CT scan” conversation.

My new stroke neurologist seems doggone determined to find the source of the clot that caused my stroke last month. Since neither an angiogram of my neck arteries nor an echo-cardiogram of my heart indicated any buildup of plaque, he had me immediately rigged with a Cardio Event Monitor system (see below). I have to wear that sucker for a whole month, except in the shower 🙂 The good thing is that I don’t have to stay stationary for the whole time. And no, there isn’t any dynamite strapped to my back so please don’t call the FBI on me.

 

Categories: Cancer
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