First week report

I’ve completed the first week of radiation treatments and can report that I am still not glowing in the dark. I checked under the sheets last night. Every Monday I meet with the doctor basically to report on any problems I may be experiencing. I have none so the meeting was very short. I am homing in on the trick of arriving with my bladder “comfortably full”. A couple of days I overshot into the uncomfortably full zone. I was waiting my turn and felt that the safe move was to relieve a little pressure and hit the bathroom. There they have giant signs that say “be sure to get your treatment with a full bladder”. So I was intimidated to hang in there and take the risk. Where I have arrived is that 2 cups of coffee and a bowl of cereal about an hour before works just fine. Add 8 ounces of water (as I did the first two times) and it crosses over into painful! The only side affect I’m experiencing is that I feel like I’m back at work. I have to set the alarm, get up, get a shower, shave, get dressed with real clothes, have something to eat and then drive to the office – via carpool. No kidding, it came back just like I’d never retired. I didn’t report this to the doc as a side affect – he wouldn’t understand.

Nancy asked me about my carpool – all kinds of questions about my co-riders. It’s a standard guy kind of carpool. Everybody is there a bit early, we hop in the vehicle and ride 20 minutes in total silence. One guy is talkative and tries to engage anyone he can in a conversation but after about 5 minutes of nothing but nods and grunts, he properly gives up and leaves us in silent contemplation. I can only imagine a female carpool under the same circumstances.

And the garden completed it’s first week. I’m amazed at the speed with which it’s growing and at the seed germination rate. I’m used to gardening in Utah and things happen more slowly in the early part of the season. The first bean and corn seeds pooched thru in only 4 days and by the first week mark were at nearly 100%. The squash seeds took a few days longer but were 100% gernimated in 7 days. The tomato and brocolli plants have literally doubled in size in a week. The weather has been perfect with highs in the low 80’s, lows in the low 60’s and abundant sunshine. So far no critter attacks although there have been a couple of rabbit sightings and George reported seeing a large racoon in the general vicinity of the garden last night.

Nancy’s cousin Fred and Martha visited this past week from California. I was a little concerned that my daily trips to the center would mess us up but I’m home before 11AM, about the time things get started so it worked out fine. Fred and I bagged a good number of bass off the dock; Nancy and Martha bagged a few quilt shops. Most of the bass were in the 2-4 lb range but I think I had a rematch with the giant I caught when Joanne visited a few months back. He took the bait in exactly the same spot, jumped the same and headed off to the weeds. I managed to turn him and pull him out of the grass but he shot over to the ladder on the dock and thru the rungs. I knew it was all over then and sure enough he broke or rather cut the line on the ladder. So the score with that lady is one to one. I need to try for best of out 3.

We did the Human Body exhibit at the Orlando Science Center. Wow!! If you haven’t seen it, do. It’s an exhibit of human bodies and body parts that have been plasticized so that you can see things you have only wondered about. Like most people I had an idea where the body parts are located, the relative sizes and shapes, and how it all interconnected. I was wrong about so much that it’s embarrassing. Some parts, like the heart, are much smaller than I’d guessed while the liver is much bigger and more complex. Ever wondered what the inside of your kidneys looks like? Visualize a living coral reef with all those filter feeder plant like critters and you have a good idea of how the kidney filters. Every bone, vein, artery, organ -they’re are all out there. I was most interested in seeing exactly where my current problem resides and seeing exactly where the colectomy happened. It was just different than I had imagined.

First radiation treatment

Today was the first day of the radiation treatments. In addition to the treatment itself, they did another filming and placed the permanent tattoo’s for gross external targeting. The place is really busy with old guys like myself but they shuffle through them very routinely. Nice smooth operation. I was actually being worked on for about 10 minutes so I anticipate in the future, it will be maybe half that.

The equipment and surroundings are really nice. Very pleasant and non- threatening. You lay down on this table which moves you into position under the actual radiation equipment. The radiation equipment then rotates from position to position, very smoothly and with little sound. When it stops, you hear a very slight buzz for a few seconds which I assume is the actual zapping. I say that because it sounds the same as when you have your teeth x-rayed. The only thing that alerts you that the process itself is serious, is that everyone leaves the room and this massive door closes. When I say massive door, I mean a door that is probably 10’x10′ x 2′ thick. So unless the smell of burning flesh bothers you — only kidding.

Starting tomorrow, I’ll take the shuttle service from Deland. That will save me the drive and I also think it keeps the process moving along quickly and on schedule. I asked if there was anything special I needed to do or to avoid – like going to the beach, having a toddy, eating red meat – and they said nope, do everything like I always do.

There are several positives surfacing. First is that the treatment center is about 3 minutes from Harbor Freight, my favorite discount tool place; It’s 5 minutes from the Fishing Hole, my favorite salt water fishing tackle store. So if I come away from a treatment feeling down, I can boost my spirits by buying a new tool or some fishing tackle. I can do that even if I come away feeling great – just tell Nancy I was feeling bad and she’ll understand. I also learned that the center is located in a sub sandwich hot spot. I counted 6 sub shops within 2 blocks and all looked to be doing a great business. I tried Nelly’s Deli because it was next door to an Italian bakery and I figured the bread would be good. Great shop but I need to withhold judgement until I’ve hit them all.

garden start

We got the garden ready for planting. What a job. For many years George and Barbara had a pigeon coop. They gave up raising pigeons a few years back and after a storm knocked a pine tree onto it, we decided that it would be a good place for a garden – all those years of pigeons fertilizing it. It’s an area of approximately 20′ x 40′ which included the area previously holding the coop and a 4′ walkway all around the perimeter. The walkway was 4” of gravel over top of nursery cloth and had been packed down for years. We needed to get all the gravel up, the cloth up, and then roto tiller the whole area. What a job that turned out to be. There were 3 of us working and it took maybe 6 hours each day for 3 days. What a crew. George has a bad heart, Rick has MS, and I have prostate cancer. I’m sure Nancy and Barbara had the phones ready for a 911 call when one or all of us collapsed. But we got it and the planting will start tomorrow. Going to plant all the standard stuff including: tomatoes; string beans; crooked neck squash; yellow zuchinni; green zuchinni; green peppers; jalapeno peppers; egg plant; cucumbers; and 3 varieties of corn. Also going to do some brocolli but I really think it’s too late for that – just an experiment. We have a combination of plants and seeds so the crop should be stretched out over an extended time and not all come on simultaneously. So now I’ll have something else to watch in addition to the fish.

Another interesting development. About a week ago George put up a 20′ T pole with 4 gourds hanging from the T. If you look carefully at the picture, you can see them. The gourds have a 3” hole for entry, the hope being that maybe in a season or two, it would attract Purple Martins. They’re a great bird to have around because they feed primarily on mosquitoes and other flying insects. Tonight as we were finishing up the last of the tilling, a Martin landed on the pole. We were blown away with how quickly the Martin house was found and also that it didn’t seemed bothered by us or the noisy tiller. It sat on the T for about 5 minutes and then went into one of the guords. He flew out after checking the interior and within 5 minutes he was back with a buddy. The buddy checked out the interior of a different one then they both flew off. It was getting dark but I have no doubt that within just a few days, we’ll be hanging out the no vacancy sign.

Turning into Dad

I’m turning into my Dad. It hit me hard this morning and I broke out laughing.

Over the weekend I hit a great sale at a tackle shop and bought a new surf outfit and an extra long rod. That part is still me. First thing this morning I headed out to my shed (shop) specifically to rig up hangers for the new outfits. The old Joe would just toss them in the shed or more likely in the back of the truck. But here’s where it really changes. I had picked up the hangers a couple of months back at a flea market because I knew that someday I would need hangers. I unpacked my 18V 3/8” drill and the correct 1/8” bit. The old Joe wouldn’t have had those nice tools and if he did, like from a gift, it would have taken an hour or more to find them. Then I opened my new project ladder that I had purchased last week at Costco. No specific need but I knew that it would come in handy. I went to the hardware chest and within a few seconds had the exact size self cutting screws needed for the job. About 6 months ago I bought a variety of hardware sizes and styles and abandoned the coffee can full of misc new and used screws, nuts, washers, nails, and whatever else fell into the general category of little stuff. It would have taken the old Joe an hour to accumulate the hardware and it would have been a mix of sizes and styles; whatever it took to fasten the bracket to the wall. The whole job, start to finish, for two rods was done in under 30 minutes. That would have been a half day project for the old Joe. And involved at least one trip to the hardware store and several band aides to staunch the bleeding from several cuts and gouges.

And here’s the capper – when the job was finished I put the drill bit back in it’s place; the drill back in the case; folded the project ladder and put it in it’s assigned spot and put back the unused screws. The old Joe would have been so frustrated with just getting the job done that all the tools and asundry parts would have been left wherever they happened to be at the end of the job or at best, all thrown together into a box which was shoved out of sight.

Now when I go to Daytona, I’ll drive out of my way to visit Harbor Freight – a tool candy store. And I never leave without dropping $20 on some obscure tool I can’t do without. Last week I picked up a pop rivet tool and a 10 pound sledge hammer. Ditto Costco. When we go to Costco I immediately hit the tool department. Last week I got the project ladder and a battery powered glue gun. I have more tools, newer tools, and better organized tools than anyone could ever imagine.

My Dad is cracking up and happy that his influence finally took hold. It only took 66 years so there’s still hope for my boys.

another paint job

Monday was a cold, dry day. Cold means in the low 60’s and dry means 35% RH. In Fla those are low numbers, I knew I would be spending the day inside not out on the dock fishing so decided that we should paint the other bathroom. The low humidity meant paint would dry quickly – sometimes a problem in our normally humid environment. We liked the way the first one turned out and figured that with all the experience from the first, this one should go smoother. Plus, I hadn’t put away all the paint gear from the first job. I was really happy with the Lowes Valspar paint so we went back. Nancy let me pick the color again. I’m in charge of walls; she’s in charge of towels to match. I picked a color called Clividen Gray Morning. And like the Coffee Gelato we used for the other bathroom, this really does look like a Clividen Gray Morning – whatever that is. The picture above doesn’t bring out the green at all but it has a very green tint to it. As hoped, the job did go smoother and took less than 4 hours start to finish. And with less mess. The bonus was that a few years ago I fell in love with a painting of a frog in a pond at the Mt Dora art festival. I bought it but really had no good place to hang it. It’s perfect in the bathroom so it must be a Clividen Frog.

This caps the paint fetish and I guarantee there will be no more painting.

Nancy and I watch American Idol when it gets down toward the end. We started last week. I have a 100% success rate on picking the winner when there are 12 candidates left. Not sure if I can keep that streak going this year. I can say for sure it won’t be a guy. No real talent there at all. The girls have 2 outstanding singers and one close. The two I like are both black, both a bit overweight and neither is a beauty queen. Melinda and Lakisha. The almost is white, has black hair with red tips, and a tongue doohicky. She’s all punk rock so I have to drop her from the list even though I can tell she has some talent. At this point, having heard them twice, I really can’t pick between Melinda and Lakisha. I have to hear them at least one more time but think these two are the finalists and it will depend on which song they select on the final show.

CT Scan

I had the CT scan and as predicted, it was a nothing process. You lay down on a table which moves you slowly thru this donut looking machine. It whirs softly for a minute or so and then slowly backs you out. The whole process start to finish was maybe 10 minutes and there was absolutely no feeling. My treatments start March 21 and will be approximately the same as what happened today. At the first treatment they tattoo the spots they marked today so they have permanent external targets for the process. When they told me that, I was hoping for some pattern selection and had in mind a bass leaping out of the water catching a dragon fly. On one side I’d have the bass just coming out of the water heading towards the fly and on the other side have him heading back down with the bug in his mouth. It turns out all I get are 4 target dots. The whole cycle is 39 treatments. How do they arrive at a number like 39? I pick up a shuttle in Deland at 9:15AM, 5 days a week and it deposits me back about 11AM. I think that will be fairly convenient, if there’s anything convenient about the whole thing. One thing I found interesting – they said to arrive for the treatments with a “comfortably full bladder”. That sounds like an oxymoron to me. Seems to me that once your bladder approaches full, you automatically become uncomfortable. And without a level guage, how do you know the fullness status of your bladder? I’m thinking a couple cups of morning coffee and an hour ride should meet the requirement. What I have to hope is that I don’t get uncomfortably full to soon.

I’m doing a garden this year with George. We’re taking the area where his pigeon coop was and planning a semi farming operation. I ordered the seeds and have started seedlings of several tomato and pepper varieties. We’ll have some of all the standard summer vege’s. Personally I have some doubts as to the likelihood of success. Aside from the normal critters like grasshoppers and aphids, I see rabbits, squirrels and possum in abundance. It’s worth a try but I’m not holding my breath or licking my chops for the big harvests. I gave up on gardening in Utah after the deer starting treating it as a fast food stop. I’ll plant some trusty zucchini since my Utah experience tells me that no critters aside from humans eat zucchini. If nothing else it will give me something else to think about and kill time while I do the daily radiation treatments. If my calculations are right, we should be picking some stuff just about the time I finish up.