Saturday, May 1, 2021

Bad week, good month

I started this back on March 15. This is NOT current.  Here's hoping May is a better month.   

So... This past week has been exhausting.  I woke up three days in a row with nausea and vertigo, both were untouched by the antinausea meds I had on hand from chemo.  Each day after three hours or so the nausea eased and I could do what I needed, if anything.  I tried drinking more fluids and other things to try to forestall the nausea but no success.  Friday night I skipped one of my cancer pills - I had been taking both cancer meds at 6 PM - and I took it Saturday morning instead.  I've kept on with the split schedule but I can't believe after three and a half months that taking the drugs together was an issue.  

I've been super low energy since then and trying to shake a cough.  I have no fever or other symptoms just a nagging cough and no energy.  

May 1 

I tried drinking more fluids and more electrolytes in April, and it turned out the electrolytes didn't help but I was indeed dehydrated most mornings.  I now try to drink water at night and all through the day, but a couple glasses in the evening.  

Well I made it to May, got through three "Big Sit" competitions and a dispersed team Big Day for the Great Texas Birding Classic.  I hope to be on 3 of the top 4 Big Sit teams for the Lower Texas Coast area.  I did the dispersed big day from 5 AM to 7 PM though most of my teammates (dispersed across Texas) did much longer days looking for birds.  I drove 325 miles and have no idea how many species I saw, I was trying to find certain species between rain and wind storms.  

March ended with a lot of morning nausea and lethargy, and April started the same way.  It was really the last two weeks of April that saw my energy levels come back.  I still tire easily, have trouble standing for any time, and melt in the heat.  But I have some mental clarity returning and I'm trying to catch up on obligations.  

Stay tuned.  

Friday, February 19, 2021

Long time, no see - February 15-19, 2021

 Hi all,  it’s been a while.  This was my week for the medical test cycle, and also the week that an epic storm knocked Texas on its collective ass.  

Last weekend was cold with overnight lows of 31-36F.   Monday dawned barely with a low of 22F and some freezing rain.  I had finally relocated my CT from the main hospital area to the local area Friday evening, saving me 20 minutes drive each way.  My appointment was for 830 so if I wanted coffee I had to have before 430 am.  I woke up without an alarm at four am to a cold house and no power. Yikes.  I was hungry so I had a granola bar and some water and went back to bed.  I got up after not sleeping and fed the outside birds before calling in to the imaging center.  I was about to give up but they finally answered and said everything was fine with their power and the machine. So I downed the contrast and headed in for my 830 appointment.  

The imaging center was vacant three people including me before 9 am. I know because I sat there for 30 minutes before asking if everything was ok with the machine.   They admitted to having some issues and after checking on it took me back to scan.  It took three tries and two massive bruises before they got the IV started.  It was chilly in the scanning office and that was the first problem with the CT and the blood testing machine.  Both were too cold!  Finally both worked, and the scan took little time after the long lead up. I got home and fed the birds again.  

Tuesday and Wednesday were more of the same. No power. No heat. Feed the birds every couple hours. The stars were a bevy of Orange-crowned Warblers, a single Pine Warbler. Yellow-throated Warbler, Western Tanager (yard bird!), and a host of the usual suspects including Green Jay, Clay-colored Thrush, and two Plain Chachalacas.  

Inside the bigger issue was getting lights for my indoor birds so they would feed.  The house never went below 58F and the cockatiel and zebra finches were fine as far as temperature.  I was able to get some D cells from a friend and that helped a lot with supplementing the meager daylight with a lantern  

Wednesday night at 10 PM the power came on.  I walked to the kitchen, and walked back to the bathroom, turned the lights out, and the power went out again.  It came on again at 11 PM.  And stayed on.  Still, freezing rain so I stayed home and fed the outside birds.  

Thursday I went to do Wednesday’s work, checking out the sites instead of a full survey.  I had placed an order for groceries since I was running short on fruit and bark butter mixing (outside bird food). I had just gotten the groceries at noon when the Dr called for my 2 pm appointment.  Lol!  First time he’s been early.  Anyway, the good news is that the tumors showed minor shrinkage. Still, shrinkage beats growth.  I was expecting bad news as my energy levels have been low - and get lower every time I think about all the dead plants I have to remove.  Anyway, the lethargy could be a side effect of the COVID vaccine (X2) or gray winter weather,  we will see.  I am more cautiously hopeful.  

Good luck to all, one last freezing night tonight and then we warm up. Insectivores are likely taking a serious hit, Purple Martin,  Cave Swallow, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and more.  

As far as I know my horses are fine.  I’m going to make a serious effort to see them more often.  I miss the horse hugs. 

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Break even

Well, another week of medical tests are behind me.  I celebrated with a trip to Bentsen to see the Ruddy Ground Dove above. Thanks to Roy and Bianca for arranging access for me!  

My CT on Monday showed no change in the tumors, while on Wednesday scales before the port flush showed my weight back up to the highest level I’ve been all year. I’ve been feeling pretty good with the odd morning where I felt nauseous. Still, no increase in tumor size is great news in these COVID times.  

So we will maintain the status quo with hormone blockers and blood thinners and add in another anti-cancer drug.  It still sounds unusual to have the positive results from the current treatment and we are going to double down and try another drug in conjunction while I’m trying to avoid hospital visits.  I’m hoping that it takes less than four calls to find out if and when they sent the prescription in. It’s likely my usual pharmacy can’t handle it but I don’t know where they will send it. 

So Happy Thanksgiving, stay home, and wear a mask. That’s what I’m doing. 

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Long slow October

It's been a long slow October.  Not much going on health wise.  The heat here finally broke and the cooler temps have me feeling better.  I did an all day big day as part of the Great Texas Birding Classic dispersed team.  It was fun and frustrating as these things usually are.  Thanks to everyone who helped me out, starting with Marianna and Luciano at the National Butterfly Center and Javier and John at Estero Llano Grande State Park.  

I finally realized they never called me about my appointments for November so I called oncology.  The Doctor appointment was scheduled, but the CT not yet (though I got four letters of approval from the insurance reviewer).  Got that scheduled with their default, which I will likely have to change.   

Lots of work on the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival and the Spring Chirp though both were cancelled this year.  The RGVBF is going virtual and I'm doing my best to make that happen.  

Successful vet visit a couple weeks ago though I got overheated trying to catch the farm owners horses.  She forgot it was float day.  Juan saved the day and caught the reluctant mares.  I still cringe from seeing the damage my old horse Dickens had happen to his teeth when he fought the speculum, so I make a point to not miss the day.  Dickens is long gone (never forgotten) but Storm and Dreamer have their own issues.  All went well, but I do worry about them more than I used to because of Dickens. Yay, all over but the bill.   

In my mind the tumor is growing.  I hope not!  I had gained weight last port flush so am cutting back on bingeing (or I'm trying to cut back).   

Wednesday, September 16, 2020


Well, things are yet to be scheduled but it sounds like as long as everything stays constant I won't have a medical test or appointment (other than the port flush, which hardly seems to count these days) until mid November.  Blood work from a couple weeks ago stays the same, all normal and a very slightly elevated cancer marker (down from way way WAY high).  We went over the results of the ultrasound again, partial occlusion in two blood vessels but no total occlusion, definitely an improvement from the CT scan in early August.  I'm on blood thinners for the long haul.  

We've had some nice breaks in the heat and humidity, earlier than normal and cooler than normal.  It's been a wet fall and that shows no signs of changing.  All in all so far a nice fall. 

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Test and retest

Well I made it back to work last week, working about two and a half days.  The heat is still a problem but I am mostly sitting in my car with the AC on.  Hard on the engine, easy on the body.  Still, ten hours is a long day.  This week I made almost full time in three and a half days.  I am looking forward to the weekend!  

I seem to be past the worst of the fuzzy headed side effects from the new meds. Friday's ultrasound showed reduced clots but some still present in smaller arteries.  At least they're gone from the jugular and other nasty places.  I'll find out what the doctor wants to do in a couple weeks, for now stay on the blood thinners for sure and maybe retest sooner rather than later.  I may still have to have the port removed, but I'd rather not expose myself to the number of humans in the hospital.  Covid19 is still severe here.  

I braved the mall and got the battery in my phone replaced.  I haven't been in that mall in years!  The phone is working great now, and I can actually go for hours without having it plugged in.  Before it would turn off every time it lost charge, and most of the time I had to warm it up on a heating pad or on the dashboard to get it to charge and turn on.  I'm glad I saved it from the landfill, and postponed getting a new one until 5G. There's still the question of whether to stay iPhone or switch with the next phone.  I have mixed feelings, not as bad now with the iPad. I can keep those Apple only apps.  

As the new job site develops I'll have to do more walking, for now it's not too bad but the site is rough.  I hope it doesn't rain!  We were fortunate to have Hurricanes Marco and Laura miss us by hundreds of miles.  

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Anticipation and Frustration, August 2020

 I know I’ve talked before about the agony of waiting for test results. I had a CT last week and then had eight days waiting for results.  Somehow the weekend is worse, less going on work-wise and more time to ponder. 

Last week I went out to a field site and quickly overheated.  The first time out of the truck I forgot my cooling towel and the second I forgot my water. I ended up having to go sit in the truck in the AC.  As much as I’m feeling ok in the new normal, theoretical exercise is much easier than actual exercise(!). 

The mosquitos have been HUNGRY    I went to a local refuge with a researcher and fed them.  Bug spray kept them off until you let up on the button.  They were ferocious.  That's Hurricane Hannas lasting present.   I had a few branches lost to the hurricane, hungry skeeters, and lawn growing WAY WAY too fast.  


So my CT scan showed continued reduction (though slow) of the tumors (yay), and a blood clot (boo).  One of the drugs I was on is a risk factor for blood clots, as is the chemo port, and the tumors, so that is a triple threat for blood clots.  One of those things is readily controllable, and I have to stop the hormone therapy drugs that were working.  If not for the COVID we'd probably remove the port, but we'll wait for COVID to be less pressing before removing the port unless the blood clots persist.  Going forward we're switching to another hormone therapy and adding in a blood thinner as soon as they get the prescriptions in.  There's a chance we could go back to these drugs that worked in the future, but I have to be off them for several months.  There is optimism that I will have good results with the other drugs as well.  The nodes in the lungs are stable, that was the big worry and the reason for the quicker CT scan.  

Blood work continues to be good.  

That's the news, such as it is.