New at the Lake

You remember that scruffy old trailer on Purdom Cemetery Road? Well it’s finally going away. I walked up there today and there’s an old time guy, 75, taking it apart for scrap value. He’s doing it piece by piece, screw by screw, so it’s not something that’s going to happen tomorrow but I’m guessing by the end of Feb it will be down to almost nothing. He’s getting the aluminum siding, the copper plumbing and wiring, windows, and great looking 2×4’s. All of that material has good scrap value these days. As I understand it, the people trying to sell property on the road raised hell with the owner saying the trailer was killing their hope of selling. I’m sure that’s the case. George managed to talk the guy out of the hot water heater so he’ll have a “spare”.

Spec’s are biting fairly well. At least for George. I went out with him yesterday for a couple hours and this morning for about an hour. Yesterday he caught 6 very nice specs and a couple of small bass using live minnows. I tried that Sabiki bait rig which I knew would be a killer – I got skunked. Today we were only out for a while and he caught a small bass and a large bream but no spec’s. I got skunked again. Perhaps I’m wrong about the Sabiki but it sure looks good to me so I’m going to keep on it for just a few more days.

The freeze forecast for Monday and Tuesday didn’t happen. I think it got close Monday morning but didn’t get there. If we can hang in for another 2-3 weeks, we’re probably home free for this year. I really didn’t care since my fruit trees have not blossomed yet. Once that happens, the last thing we want is a freeze. I’d like them to hold off until March but I have zero control over it. We ended up with really great grapefruit this year including two Ruby Red’s off that scruffy tree I moved two years ago. Assuming they don’t get nailed this month, we should really have a great crop next year. I think the Satsuma orange is still too young but between the tangerine and the two grapefruit trees, we have plenty.

Had a real shock the other day. Our VHS tape recorders are a little old and acting up now and again. They generally work but don’t always rewind, fast forward, and sometimes randomly eject the tape. Time to replace. We were in Daytona Monday and went into Sam’s. No VHS recorders. Went to Best Buy – when I asked where they were, they looked at me like I was from Venus or something. I could get a unit that was combined with a DVD player which I don’t need, but no plain old go to hell VHS recorder. Now I’m starting to panic. We still had Circuit City and Wal-mart on the road ahead. At Circuit City they had two on clearance which I quickly scooped up. I guess because the networks will be broadcasting only digital in two years, the market for VHS is drying up. My hope is that I’ll be able to buy some kind of D/A converter when the switch happens so I don’t have to change anything behind that box. We really, really, really don’t need all the hassle and complexity that comes with a jillion channels and remote controls with 100’s of buttons. Old eyes and fat fingers just don’t do well with tiny buttons and cryptic codes that come with multi-function remote controllers.

post op review etc

Today marks exactly one week since the colon surgery and I feel pretty good. A little soreness when I move certain ways and general tiredness but all in all quite satisfied. I go back to have stitches removed and for a post-op consult on Thursday but from everything I read and am told by people who should know, I am way ahead of what is normally expected. And a silver lining – I lost 10 pounds and no longer wake up with an achy shoulder. I normally am a side sleeper but the surgery forced me to sleep on my back and I guess the way I was sleeping was messing up my shoulder.

One of those visually surprised by my progress was the Oncologist I visited today to discuss my prostate cancer. He couldn’t believe I had a colectomy a week ago and was up and about. His nurse immediately called over to Florida Hospital Deland and requested a copy of the pathology report from the colon polyp removed and I learned that not only was it totally clean but that they had also removed some lymph nodes in the general vicinity and those too were clean. He went through all the material with respect to my particular case and confirmed that it was very early, not an aggressive form, and that it was very likely 100% contained in a small area of the prostate. He said that if it were more aggressive they would start with a hormonal treatment but no sense in going there based on the information to date. The treatment I elected and he felt was the best choice was the Image Guided Radiation Therapy. With this treatment, the next step is to have 4 pure gold pellets imbedded in the prostate at the locations they planned to nail. They looked to me like cylinders less than 1/10” long and a few mils in diameter. Due to the recent surgery, he put off having the targets implanted until Feb 22. That’s an out-patient job similar to the origiinal biopsy – uncomfortable but not painful. A week after those are in place, I get a CT scan and temporary external target points applied -like 4 small ink dots – in my pelvic area. These are used to optically line up the radiation equipment. At the first treatment, the temporary targets are replaced with permanent tattoo’s. From the CT information, they create a radiation plan which shapes the radiation pattern to be used. This shaping is done with small motors that move rods in and out different lengths so that the radiation is actually patterned to my specific internal positioning. So they have control of both the source position and intensity and can create virtually any kind of radiation pattern. With the machine grossly positioned by lasers on the tattoos, it does a fine adjustment using the internal gold pellet targets. All of this is to make sure the beams go directly where they want them and kill as few good cells as possible. That lessens side effects and makes the process more complete and effective. The treatments start a week later – so that puts me into the second week of March. The treatments will be 5 days a week for 8 weeks. A treatment lasts about 15 minutes, start to finish. No pain, just like a chest x-ray. He said some people have side affects after a couple of weeks – all very treatable – but with the patterned radiation and Image tracking, the effects are much less than even 2 years ago.

The equipment is Varian state of the art equipment. There are only 3 such pieces installed in Fla right now so it’s great that I have good access to it in Daytona. As a side note, John Richardson, Tina’s dad, was a chief engineer kind of guy at Varian who designed and developed the tubes for this type equipment. I know that means it technically perfect so, how come he elected surgery for his prostate treatment? It’s a 40 minute drive from the house to the treatment center or they have a shuttle that will pick me up in Deland about 15 minutes from the house. Nancy talked to the driver and there are usually 4 passengers so it means having to wait around the treatment center. I’ll play that by ear but the place is nice – big screen flat panel TV in the waiting area, coffee, tea, pastries etc. It was interesting to see the interaction of the other patients waiting for their turn in the equipment. Like a club – they all knew each other and seemed to be enjoying the time. Nobody moaning around or doing regular doctor office things. I can see catching up on my reading, big time.

just trying………….

Nancy and I love the smell and feel of clothes that have been dried on the line, the old fashioned way. As long as weather permits, we hang out instead of using the drier. A while back, Nancy was having an ache or a pain that made it difficult for her carry out the loaded wash basket so I took over that job. Every now and again I’d take off the dry clothes and put them in the basket. I was told that my method lacked a bit of sophistication and that the way I put things in the basket made her work more than if she removed them herself. I could have dropped it right then having been given an official exit path but I accepted the (corrective) criticsm and learned to fold the items as I took them off. I eventually graduated to where I was occasionally hanging out the wet clothes. It all seemed to me to be a no brainer – hang them up, the wind blows, they dry, remove them from the line. And it went along just fine until this weekend.

We always change out the linens when we are having house guests and this weekend Joanne and Edna were coming over. Nancy washed the clothes and loaded the basket; I took it out and started hanging the stuff. I knew she was busy inside scrubbing floors and stuff like that. I was just about finished when she came out and started taking down all the stuff I had hung and rehung it. I asked what that was all about and she said she couldn’t have Joanne and Edna see clothes hung the way I did it. Then to make it even nicer, she said it was ok if I hung the socks. So right on the spot I’m demoted from general clothes hanger one to junior sock hanger.

Somehow the clothes dried and to me they seemed just as dry with my method as with hers but ………………. We had a great weekend of doing nothing – a few vodka and grapefruits, some great food, and a big, big bass.

Pre-op Conference

On Tuesday I have surgery to remove a benign polyp from my colon. The procedure is called a transversal colectomy. I went today for a pre-op session which involved getting bloodwork, a general physical with an EKG, and a debriefing on what to expect. Glad I did this since I learned quite a bit. I check in at 6AM on Tuesday the 16th. The operation will take 2-2.5 hours, most of which is prep and cleanup. The plan is to try to remove the polyp laproscopically but there’s a reasonable chance that I’ll have to be opened up. The polyp was marked during the earlier colonoscopy and the location given to the surgeon but he said sometimes they can’t pinpoint the location too accurately and it requires a “search”. We’re talking a few centimeters. After the operation I go to a recovery area for a couple of hours and then to the ICU. I’ll be in ICU for one or two nights and then moved to a regular room. Total hospital stay 3-5 days is normal.

When I come out of the operation I’ll have several tubes including a catheter to drain my bladder, a regular arm kind of intravenous setup, a tube down my throat and one coming out of my nose. So no doubt it will look scary. The reason for the throat and nose is for drainage. Anything that goes into the stomach, even normal stomach acid needs to come out because they don’t want you to cough, retch or anything for a bit to protect the stitches. So it will look like something is wrong but it’s standard procedure. The catheter is so they keep track of my output exactly. They know what’s going in from the intravenous tube and what’s coming out from the catheter. We also went over pain management stuff so I’m guessing it will hurt a bit. They use a 0-10 scale and relate each number to a graphic facial expression. With a 0 the face is smiling; with a 5 the face is straight, no emotion showing; with a 10 the face is crying with tears. I’m a 4 kind of guy.

This was all good information since my expectation was to go in at 6AM and be home later that day. We told John Bachmann that we might hook up with him at Brian’s Barbecue for ribs on Wednesday so I might have felt a little panic if I woke up with all those tubes and being moved to ICU. As it is, I know that’s exactly what’s going to happen and it’s normal. I was told that I am very healthy (this procedure notwithstanding) – good lungs, heart etc – and my surgeon is the best there is. And I can forget about the ribs on Wednesday. I’m thinking the worst part of this whole thing is going to be the lousy food at Florida Hospital.

Interesting day

Yesterday was an interesting day. I was not looking forward to it because I had an important, potentially unpleasant, appointment scheduled with the doctor and I was starting to fall for the Ohio State hype. As it so happens, the day started on a strange, down note. My normal schedule is to walk up to get the papers, ours and May’s, about 8 AM. On Monday the trip includes bringing the trash barrel back to the house. I came back with the barrel and the papers, stopped across from May’s and walked to her porch where I drop off the paper. She came out and we chatted for a minute or two about how nice her Camellia’s were this year. I started back to the road when I saw billows of smoke pouring out from behind my shed. As I looked for the source of the smoke, our pump burst into flames. I mean flames that leaped maybe 2′ in the air. I rushed over and beat the fire down with the newspaper. The box that held the pressure switch and relay contacts was totally melted down to a charred mess. I ran to the breaker box to confirm that the well breaker had popped. We made a call to the closest well service and they were on site within an hour. The whole mess had to be replaced and totally rewired – about 3 hours of labor and parts – totaling $265. This was not the start for the day I was hoping for. I’m guessing somewhere in the charred ruins is a piece of characoal in the shape of a lizard or frog. And I know bad things happen in threes. That’s common knowledge isn’t it? So now I’m really not looking forward to the rest of the day.

The appointment with the doc was at 4 PM; the Gator game at 8. The appointment involved the doctor having a “look” at my bladder (you can imagine how that’s accomplished) and discussing the results of the blood work from before Christmas. The news was good. The bladder was clean and the blood showed that the cancer was not aggressive. He is quite confident that we caught it very early and that it’s treatable without extraordinary means and multiple therapies. We discussed treatments and more or less settled on a radiation technique called Intensity Modulated Radiation Treatment (IMRT). That’s an external beam treatment with short bursts of high intensity radiation. With the brand new equipment it’s further identified as Image Guided Radiation Treatment (IGRT). With this new equipment, they can narrow the beam and increase the dosage intensity because of the accuracy of the aiming. They get the image guiding by inserting pure gold “targets” directly in the prostate which the equipment locks onto before zapping. With the prior external beam technology, they put marks on your body and/or built up a mold that you wore during the treatment. But even then your prostate could move a few centimeters from treatment to treatment so it wasn’t possible to hit the spot exactly every time. With the guided tracking, that problem is eliminated. The course of treatments is 5 days a week for 7 weeks. It’s about the same as getting an x-ray at the dentist – totally painless and lasting a few seconds. The equipment is in Daytona so I either go there or to the office in Deland where they run shuttles back and forth to Daytona. I’m thinking that on days Nancy is playing bridge or at quilting, I’ll just do the shuttle. When she’s available we’ll go over and do lunch at one of our beach hangouts. At this time, we haven’t got a start date due to the surgery I have scheduled for the 16th. I’m hoping to get a meeting with the radiation people maybe still this week or the week following the surgery. So other than having the gold targets inserted, the rest of it should be a piece of cake. No doubt I’ll catch up on my reading while waiting for treatments every day. If you have more interest, has information on the Southeast Regional Prostate Cancer Treatment Center.

The game started on a down note for sure – the Gators down 7 points with less than a minute gone. The rest is history as the Gators took control and systematically destroyed Ohio State’s highly touted offense. The final of 41-14 was not really representative of the game since that opening kickoff return accounted for half Ohio State’s points and the Gator’s had another score bagged at the end but mercifully ran out the clock. So the Gators become the first NCAA team to win National Championships in both football and basketball in the same year. And for those who think Big 10 football is so great – note that both Michigan and Ohio State got whupped up on in the bowl games and Notre Dame was beat up badly by LSU. Speed wins. In all those cases the defenses were just too fast for the offenses and the bigger, slower team was just not able to deal with the speed of the game. That wasn’t a big surprise to me but how bad the Big 10 defense was, did surprise me. If Florida had a weakness all season, it was their offense. They only eked out small margins over their SEC opponents but completely dominated Ohio State. Ditto LSU – Notre Dame; ditto USC – Michigan. The receivers were just not covered at all. I’m guessing Keilbasa comes off the training table menu in the mid west.