Archive for the ‘Cancer’ Category

The Final Transition

June 12, 2020 1 comment

I’m about to make my final transition… No silly, I know what you are thinking and it’s not that. It’s not my transition from life to death. Not just yet! It’s the transition to the final state of health insurance on my dizzying, brain frying, leg numbing, foot burning, ear ringing, byzantine, journey through the health care jungle.

The trigger event for this final transition was the reception today of everybody’s medical holy grail: the medicare card!

Before I can drink from the blessed medi-grail, I’ve got to withstand the pain of three more months of $1000/month premiums and many unknown co-pays for treatments and specialist appointments.

For completeness, I present to you my health insurance history in the form of an STD. No silly, I know what you are thinking and it’s not that (That’s twice I caught you thinking nasty thoughts). It’s a State Transition Diagram. A handy, but simple, tool I used for many years to understand the dynamic behavior of systems.

Categories: Cancer

The Starkest Reminder

As a cancer patient with a terminal diagnosis, I’d be thrilled if my perception of time sloooowed waaay down so that I can hitch a ride on the present moment more often.

While floating along in the gentle embrace of the present moment, my five senses get continuously replenished with the joyful sensations of physical life. The metaphorical distance between each of my senses and the spatially disperse, universal energy that powers all life collapses to zero. I feel directly coupled to life itself. 👍👏👏

On the other hand, the starkest reminder to me that time is whooshing by way too fast is the following empty pill box…

Every time I see this horror show unfold once a week, I feel like I just refilled the compartments the fuckin’ day before! I experience a brief moment of terror as I realize once again that my life will likely be coming to an end much sooner than I’d like. But not today, ‘lizbeth!

Categories: Cancer

Baseline, Chronic, Progressive

Let’s start with a dorky reference graph that models a sentient being’s physical state of health:

Now let’s transition to a chronic, recurrent state of health:


In this state, you’re Ok for awhile, and then you suffer for awhile, and then the cycle repeats. The graph example above shows a worst case scenario where, as time goes on, the patient spends more and more time in a painful, “Flare Up” sub-state than she does in its peer “OK” sub-state.

And finally, we arrive at the progressive, fatal state of health:

In this bad ass state, our heroine not only spends progressively more and more time in the “Flare Up” sub-state, each “Flare Up” feels worse and worse upon each transition into it. Eventually, the last “OK” sub-state is entered, and then, upon exit…… the reaper awaits.

So now, let’s integrate up the previous babblings and concoct a homemade state transition diagram of health as follows:

Read read the model as follows.

We are initialized at birth into a healthy, baseline state. The luckiest of us will go through life relatively unscathed from physical and mental dysfunction. The lucky ones will dwell in the glorious baseline state over time, right until RIP comes a callin’. Others will take the progressive-RIP path or the dastardly chronic-progressive-RIP path on their way through life.

In my case, I was idling away in the warm, baseline state of health for 57 years. And then, boom, upon hearing of my terminal diagnosis, I transitioned instantaneously into the progressive state. I hope all who read this are dwelling happily away in their baseline states!

Categories: Cancer

Living In The Head

May 7, 2020 2 comments

I’ve found that the best way for me to maintain a modicum of a healthy state of mind is to dwell as much as I can in the present moment, not withstanding the stage 4 cancer diagnosis and the coronavirus siege. A.k.a. “living in the now” as opposed to “living in the head“.

If I’m not diligent at monitoring and detecting which time frame my thoughts are dwelling within, I’ll find myself spending too much time speculating about a fearful future or spending too much time regretting bad decisions that I’ve made in the past. When I’m living in the present moment, life feels “lighter”. I’m more able to appreciate the sights, sounds, smells, touches, and tastes that are right in front of me… right now. Everything is much more vivid and alive. There is pure joy in indulging the sensations that permeate my being!  

My Katy Kahuna massage chair, cannabis edibles, and meditation practices (Balance and Headspace apps) are great tools. I employ them to nudge me me back into the present moment from my wild and scary mental transgressions into the (scary) future and (regretful) past.


Categories: Cancer, spirituality

The Double Whammy

May 2, 2020 4 comments

Geeze, a lot has changed since my last blog post on March 20th. I’ve gotta tip my hat to the insidious new coronavirus scourge that has emerged out of nowhere and jumped into the ring to compete with the EOAM for ownership over my body and soul. This emperor+virus double whammy indicates that the fit has really hit the shan for me and millions of others with pre-existing conditions. Yikes!

I know I’ve probably been an asshole more than I’ve been a nice person during my lifetime, but I didn’t think “god” would be so enraged at me that she would summon the vile coronavirus to compete with the sinister emperor for the annihilation of my physical and (especially) mental well being.


Ok then, enough doom and gloom (for now). On the bright side, I had a CT scan and a brain MRI since my prior post. They both indicate that the emperor is still firmly shackled in place. There is no doubt he’s still an integral part of me, hoping that the newcomer virus doesn’t beat him to the punch. He’s patiently waiting for the time when my Opdivo immunotherapy infusions stop working so that he can shed his shackles and resume pursuing his goal of slowly ravaging my body into dust.


Categories: Cancer

Inventory Check!

March 20, 2020 2 comments

I just finished my 10th and last radiation treatment for the enlarged lymph node in my left pelvic area. I was hoping to get all the “burns” in before any positive Coronavirus results for my county were announced. But alas, there were 2 confirmed cases on Monday and that number has risen to 7 as of today.

Now that the radiation regimen is completed, I still have an Opdivo infusion coming up next Wednesday. After that, barring any major, unforeseen, personal medical events (like another freakin’ stroke), I can really hunker down to weather the impending Coronavirus maelstrom.

As you might have guessed, I fall into the high risk, immune-system-compromised, Coronavirus group. D’oh! If I DO get sick when the hospitals are overflowing, and the inevitable “triage” policy is instituted, the triage nurse is gonna walk right past me and I’ll smile and wave her/him by. At this point in my life, what more can happen to me? LOL!

On the bright side, I decided to take inventory on my beloved stress-and-anxiety-reducing cannabis product stash…

Between my stash and the frequent warm embraces of Katy Kahuna, I think I’m good to go for quite awhile, dontcha think?

Categories: Cancer

Rejected And Reversed

March 15, 2020 2 comments

I thought I had gotten away with transitioning between health insurers seamlessly. But alas, in this fucked up, maddeningly complicated, healthcare system, it was not meant to be.

This past Monday I started a 10 session radiation regimen for a growing cancerous lymph node in my left pelvic region. The previous week I had a standard “radiation teach”  learning session and a “coordinate scanning” CT scan so that the technicians could use the images to guide Burnadette’s radiation beam to its nasty target.

Early in the week I received this notice of rejection from my new insurance company:

So, I went to the Excellus BCBS web site to verify. Lo and behold:

After calling my radiologist and telling her about the rejection, she told me not to worry. She would call the insurance company and have a peer-to-peer discussion with the insurance company doctor that rejected my claims.

On Friday, I received this reversal of decision notice:

My radiologist came through for me with flying colors. Thanks Tracy. You rock!

So, I made it through 5, 15 minute, burn sessions last week. I hope I can make it through the last five this week before my state gets put on COVFEFE-45 “lockdown“. Oh, and I have an Opdivo infusion scheduled for the following week. This is sooooo much fun that I can’t wait to find out what the future holds.

Categories: Cancer

Katy Kahuna

March 5, 2020 3 comments

Meet sweet Katy Kahuna…

I’m 61 years old and I discovered dear Katy precisely when I needed her. She is the best personal item I’ve ever purchased.

Katy is a powerful yet gentle, robust, electro-mechanical marvel to behold. She weighs 220 lbs to my (current 😉 ) 211 lbs. Her physical structure is comprised of a set of sturdy, rolling, throbbing balls on an L track that straddles my spine. She also has a plethora of air compression bags and heating pads that can give me a bone crushing or smoothly relaxing massage.

Katy is soooo good that I want to die in her arms in mid-massage while the “Yoga-Stretch” program is running. When the program ends we can then be carted off to the crematory together and stuffed in an urn after we’re pulverized into ashes!

I think Katy allowed me to briefly glimpse, feel, taste, hear, and smell what’s waiting for us all on the other side. I experienced this out-of-body epiphany while simultaneously:

  • Laying snugly in Katy’s arms running the “Elite Lower Back” program,
  • High on a pot brownie, and
  • Listening to an Eckhart Tolle podcast.

It was an orgasmic, heavenly experience!

Categories: Cancer

Just Ten More Hits

By using the word “hits” in the title, I don’t mean “hits” from a blunt. I mean “hits” from my friend Burnadette Radner. She’s been waiting patiently in the background to come to my aid whenever I need her firepower in my battle against the EOAM. She’s already helped me with ten, burn-baby-burn, hits on each of two other cancerous lymph nodes a year ago.

My latest chest/abdomen/pelvis CT scan showed that a pesky lymph node in my left pelvic area has grown to a size (2.8 cm) such that my oncologist/radiologist dynamic duo decided it must be radiated ten times to kill the bastid. The lymph node in question has been growing slowly on and off for quite a while and now it’s time to blast the bejesus out of that EOAM soldier. I start the treatment regimen this upcoming Monday and I’m ready to rock. Let’s do it!

The good news in this post is that the CT scan also revealed that all the other numerous cancerous tissue spots are still shackled by the lifesaving power of my Opdivo (Nivolumab) infusions. Thanks Bristol-Myers Squibb!

An interesting side topic is that I had to transition from one insurer (UnitedHealthcare) to another (Excellus BCBS) just two days ago on 3/1/20 because my COBRA coverage expired.

Excellus won’t be too happy with the effect of my first ten claims on their bottom line:

Aw shit! This new customer is a fuckin’ stage 4 cancer patient. We can’t wait until he croaks or until protection for pre-existing conditions is gutted via the supreme court striking down the whole ACA law on a technicality.

Categories: Cancer

Thumbs Up

February 21, 2020 Leave a comment

At some point last Sunday I noticed some pain in my right thumb. The pain was localized to a small area where the nail boundary interfaces with the skin. The pain worsened and expanded outward during the day but I didn’t think much of it since it wasn’t dominating my consciousness.

When I woke up on Monday the pain was still expanding and my hitchhiking thumb looked like this:

Even though there weren’t any obvious patches of pus in the area, I started mining for its oozy white presence by gently puncturing the skin in several places with a hydrogen peroxide dipped needle. It hurt so much that I postponed further testing until I could actually see pus pockets sometime in the future.

Even though the pain was getting worse and the coverage area was expanding, I thought the infection wasn’t that bad and it would self-heal without any external medical treatment. As you may know, BD00 isn’t a doctor but he thinks he is after observing and experiencing four years of various cancer treatments. 😂

So, the pain kept getting worse until it was a continuous throbbing menace that kept me up most of Monday night. I swear I could feel the thump-thump of my heartbeat in my thumb every time it throbbed with pain.

On Tuesday afternoon I heeded the advice from a friend’s doctor boyfriend and headed to a Wellcare urgent care center.

The doctor looked at it and gently pressed on it looking for any liquid discharge. She decided not to lance the injury and wrote scripts for 7 days worth of Keplex antibiotic capsules and an antibiotic ointment. I noticed the antibiotics working rather quickly. I slept through Tuesday night without too much pain and on Wednesday the pain was much less intense. It also didn’t feel like the infection was expanding any further.

On Thursday I had an appointment with my oncologist and I showed him my thumb. Even though I told him I was on the mend, he was concerned that the infection was perhaps too deep and it could start affecting the physical function of my thumb by eating through ligaments/cartilage. Thus, he setup an appointment with an orthopedic doctor for Friday morning.

Of course, I had noticed the functional deterioration in my thumb already because, among other extremely simple activities, I couldn’t wipe my ass at all with it because the pain was so intense that I had to use my opposite hand. Oops, TMI? (A nonfunctional thumb sounds like a good bit for a Larry David “Curb Your Enthusiasm” episode.)

After a visit to the orthopedic doctor and an X-ray of the thumb, he sent me on my way with instructions to stay the course with the pills and ointment and a periodic dip in a cup of peroxide.

Here’s the latest pic showing the infection drying up and withering away.


Categories: Cancer
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