Saturday, April 02, 2016

After Chemo


I get up at 4 am and slave away at the computer all day. I consider myself lucky that I can take some time out to swim and hike and do some errands. I still haven't found the time to do my taxes. But when a neighbor told me one of her dearest childhood friends was doing badly with a lung disease and couldn't eat or sleep I took them both to an above board medical marijuana dispensary. It was strange because here I was driving to a marijuana place with a frail little lady with an oxygen tank, telling me she's a Republican and wanting to debate me about Choice. She's vehemently anti-Choice.

I asked her if Medicare is crucial in her treatment and, of course, she said it is. It's crucial for everyone who gets a catastrophic illness. I mentioned that Ryan-- her favorite current Republican-- wants to wreck it. She said he just wants to make it better and save it. One thing we did agree on though, is that Hillary would be terrible for America and that Trump would be worse but that Bernie would be a great president. It shocked me that a Paul Ryan fan is feeling' the Bern... even a little. She'd vote for him over Trump. She wouldn't vote at all if it was Trump vs Hillary.

Things have really changed a lot for me since I was down and out with cancer and I thought I'd go through some the changes. In the course of the chemo and stem cell replacement operation-- all in about a year and a half-- my weight went from 185 to 130 and has now climbed back to 180. That's pretty noticeable to anyone who sees me. Other things are less apparent. The one good side effect from chemo is that I didn't have to shave in over a year. Then my beard started growing back weirdly and in fits and starts. Now it's pretty much back to normal (like 95%).

Other side effects were all bad and are mostly all gone. My balance was so bad that I couldn't even lift my foot high enough to slip into a flip-flop from a standing position without a battle to keep from falling over. The staircase in my house was so daunting that it would take me the better part of 10 minutes to walk up or down. One time I had to curl up and take a nap on the landing after 5 steps. Now it takes me 10 seconds to go up or down the stairs without even thinking about it.

Stuff like an inability to taste anything have largely gone away. I can twist off a bottle cap now; which I didn't have the strength to do a few months ago. I'm driving again. I can swim laps again and I can sort of run. I was unable to for months, which made jaywalking scary. I'm afraid to go back and look at the posts I wrote while I was on chemo but most of my cognitive functions have been gradually returning. My eyesight is mostly back most of the time and that's a relief although every now and then I still get badly blurred vision-- less so all the time. And the susceptibility to any random infectious diseases is much less-- enough so that my doctor said it's OK to get on a plane again without wearing a mask. (New York, here I come.) Since all my immunizations built up over a lifetime were wiped out with the stem cell transplant I could have gotten anything from anyone near me. I did, in fact, manage to come down with double pneumonia but that seems to have run it's course. This week I had 5 more shots for stuff from polio to diphtheria and all kinds of poxes. Those immunization shots will go on into 2017.

After the stem cell replacement operation I never had any kind of bleeding gums when I brush my teeth. That's a good thing and I hope that stays. I still have neuropathy in my feet and hands, a pretty bothersome nerve disease which may or may not go away. I remember when a friend of mine told me I would learn to live with it and I said I'd rather die. I've now learned to live with it. And, I'm happy to say that although I have plenty of marijuana around from when I needed it to eat and sleep, I haven't been in the least bit tempted in 8 months. By the way, there's no chance I could have done this when I was getting chemo or recovering from it-- nor can I do it now:



At 11:49 PM, Blogger Commonwealth said...


I love your effort and connection to life. I love all the great music you helped to bring me over the years. I love your commitment to rooting out the elements that degrade our country; I routinely tell people that if they read this blog and Naked Capitalism, they'll have pretty much the whole picture they need to make well-informed decisions. And I love it when you share your own struggle and victories. I'm a person who was just diagnosed Friday with prostate cancer; I know that it's the skill of my doctors, and of a medical community who should be getting 10x the funding to the National Institutes of Health that they get now, that will get me through this. But posts like this, and your overall energy, are 100% helping me deal with this. Directly. Please know that your work has many ripple effects out here in the world. And know, also, that you have my thanks, and my commitment to join you and help free a fine country from the grifters who've taken it over.

Cheers, Commonwealth

At 4:43 AM, Blogger Steve Adams said...

Wow. Great post. This sticks. Thanks.

At 6:20 AM, Anonymous ap215 said...

Very good post Howie. Get better soon.

At 11:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so very glad you're feeling better, even good. Your posts have been just fine through chemo and all along. You fierce sense of fairness and justice must have carried you through their writing. Best wishes now and in the future.

At 11:23 AM, Blogger Kevin Laffey said...

Having a creative outlet that can transform dismay at the state of things into something as constructive/instructive as DWT and knowing it's appreciated is one key to good health. Blessed be, Howie.

At 1:02 PM, Anonymous brilliantatbreakfast said...

With all the blogs that I've had to stop reading due to lack of leisure time, or because their founders have sold out completely (*cough* Kos *cough*), DWT is still my go-to for damn fine ranting with the goods to back it up. I'm so glad to see you post about your recovery. I work on oncology trials, most recently with hematological cancers. Every day I'm on some web site or another debunking the many snake oil salesmen that show up on the internet. Glad you are still here to show people that for these cancers, there are treatments that WORK. Welcome back (though you've never really been away).

At 3:51 PM, Blogger AC said...

Thans for passing it forward Howie. Glad to hear you are doing better. See you soon.

At 5:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are my hero in the political blogosphere. I've been coming here for many years.
Please accept this !!Big Healthy Energy Blast!! towards your complete recovery.


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