Monday, December 23, 2013

In the Throws of Recovery

I can say with all certainty, that recovery from cancer treatment is amongst the "top five" lesser enjoyable adventures I have encountered in my lifetime thus far. That is a tough list to crack, and I will will reveal the other top-four only over a glass of wine. After I get my taste back, of course. 

It is now Saturday, December 21st, 2013. On Monday of this week, just five days ago, I received my third and final chemotherapy dose. As I have mentioned in previous posts, my chemotherapy three doses are quite large. The first at the beginning of my radiation series, the second in the middle, and the final dose at the end. Rather than give me numerous smaller doses, my chemotherapy oncologist chose to go with this more extreme regimen. 

I will spare the details, but that evening, I found myself in the E.R. at St. Peter's Hospital with an impacted colon, thanks to side effects of something called "narcotic bowel syndrome." It was an experience that chipped away at my dignity somewhat.  The good news is that in the wee hours of the morning, I was sent home weighing a little less than when I had arrived. 

Just twelve hours later, I received my 30th and final radiation treatment! My wonderful radiation team posed with me in front of the monstrous machine that circled my head and neck numerous times in the preceding weeks. I will say I will miss these nice folks, but the machine that delivered the treatment? Not as much.

The burns and devastation left behind by this amazingly accurate piece of equipment are still getting worse before they get better. That is the bad news... The good news is that I will get better and my voice will eventually return. My voice may sound different and the message that comes with it may be a new message, but it will return.

The chemotherapy session administered the day before was still delivering its powerful punch, the biggest side effect being nausea. I could not keep anything down, not even water. Friday morning I made my way up to the IV administration room looking a bit worse for the wear and after four hours of IV fluids and anti-nausea medications, I was throwing up what little I had left in my system. Dr. Sui made the call and informed me that there was a room awaiting me on the 3rd floor at St. Peters, and he wanted me to spend a few days there getting well. It is from that hospital bed where I find my self writing to you this morning. 

It's been quite a week... chemo, radiation, an impacted colon clearing session, non-stop day and night regurgitation, hospitalization. And tomorrow? I turn another year older. Odds are I'll be awaking for my birthday in a hospital bed. The good news is that I get to be creative and bring smiles to the faces of my nursing staff. "THE nursing staff"? Nah. MY nursing staff. These nurses do a great job of making me feel at home here. Life is too short not to bring a little joy into the hearts of those around me. My nurse this morning was saying that they would charge me for the Silvedine burn medicine for my neck. I replied with "How much are the smiles going to cost me? It takes more muscles to frown, you know, so those should be cheaper, right?"

Fast forward again... it is now Monday evening, December 23rd. I was discharged on the 21st. I was able to spend my birthday on the 22nd with my family, and we all went bowling. Then back to my parent’s house where I cooked up some tasty appetizers for my family while I "ate" via my PEG tube. Truth is, the various medicine's had me nodding off, in and out of sleep, the rest of the evening. I went home early so I could rest.

The good news is that I have been able to relax and recover from all of the stresses of healing. No more treatment, just recovery. The pain and ravages of treatment are still there, but I'm on the home stretch, no more treatment ahead of me, just recovery.

Thank you all for your love and prayers, my dear friends. It may be a bumpy road ahead, but I'm on the downhill side of the mountain now. The road to healing lies ahead.

~Robert B. Haase,
A Blessed Man

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  1. Wow. Thank you for sharing your story. Your strength is inspiring.