No Spring Chicken #21

If life is ever dull or uninteresting you are doing something wrong. Or right. I'm not sure which any longer.

My older brother, Jeff, came up to stay and distract me on the days before chemo starts again. He arrived on Thursday, so we did our shopping a day early this week. That doesn't sound like much disruption, but it caused a domino effect. I also had a physical therapy treatment on Wednesday, and the two of them delayed me from getting up to Port Ludlow to sail with the guys for practice on Wednesday. Which means I didn't get to try out my new sails on my RC sailboat before I went to the Nationals on Saturday. More about the results of that later.

Anyway, Jeff and I pretty much get along, unlike our other brother who has shown himself to be someone we don't want to deal with any more. So Jeff and I got to try out his new Renaissance Naval rules on Friday rather extensively, and again on Sunday to test revisions we made on Friday. Understand that I've been working on a set of Ancient Naval rules for about 15 years, and have come up with a pretty well defined set of rules and Jeff has been helping and play testing them with me for all of that time. Now he wants to extend them into the Renaissance and I'm helping him work through the difficulties of balancing rules that play easily and simply enough for beginners, and rules that emulate reality, and rules that allow the captain to handle the ship the way he wants, within the limitations of the time period involved. So, he kept a lot of the ancient rules in, and therein lay a problem - ramming was a big thing in Ancients, but not so much in Renaissance. They didn't put rams on the ships in later years, and only used the "ram" process to foul the two ships together so they could board easier. The number and effectiveness of swivel guns, the damage due to cannons of various sizes, and the casualties taken by deck crews were revised and retested.

So, Saturday we went over to Seattle for the National Championships of T-37 RC sailing. Jeff had volunteered and worked as part of the Race Committee, while I raced. Not that well, but better than I expected. I hadn't used or tested the new sails, so didn't trust them as well as I should and tended to override the tuning and try to trim them better than the setting I had set up. This led to a few difficulties with the flukey winds we had. I also need to get better at avoiding the problems of too many boats in too small a spot (the starting line had one end too close to the dock, and the other end was not usually far enough out to allow room for the 18 boats that were competing). Besides that, I got serious weed problems on three races and that only leads to heartbreak. Now, if they had not been moving the other end of the starting line for the wind changes every race, there wouldn't have been so much loose milfoil around for us to run into. All in all, I found I could compete on this level of competition when things went right (a 4th, two 5ths and a 7th place race finishes), but I wasn't good enough at avoiding the problems to be consistent at those levels. The winds were light and variable all day, and some races were just a matter of luck as to where you finished. In some I was way behind and managed to gain 10 spots in a fluke of breeze. In others, I lost several spots on a puff of breeze. Anyway, I will be ready for next years endeavor. My mentor in racing T-37s, Bill Jones, won the Nationals for the third year running.

Sunday, Jeff and I tried the modifications we had made to his rules, and made some more (this is a long running and continuous process) and then headed down to Game Wizard/Blue Sky Hobbies for a Tactica Ancients game. Jeff's Romans beat the Armenians in a pitched battle over mostly open terrain. This will give him a new province in the ancients campaign I am running with the local club. The purpose of this campaign is to generate ancient battles in Tactica II for land and my Galley's and Glory for naval. After which we came home to another of Janet's excellent meals - roast chicken, salad and a tasty garlic bread. Now, if I was anyone else I'd weigh 350 pounds. But I happen to be someone who can control his desires, so I'm only a little over 200 pounds. Soon to be lower still, as the chemo kills my appetite.

Monday morning Jeff and I went through the Renaissance rules, again, testing play balance of one larger ship against five smaller ones. Turns out that 3:1 would have been a better play balance, and that small arms fire and swivel gun fire were too deadly, and that all ships needed more deck crew (especially fighters). Then Jeff left after lunch, and Janet and I went down to the Harbor Public House for a brew and some fries. When we came home I made popcorn for the Seahawks game and she took Clair to get the mail. At halftime, with the popcorn gone, I made dinner of Zatarans Red Beans and Rice with some of the roast chicken (left over from Sunday's dinner) chopped into it.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014 Back to the Oncology Department at Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle for chemo. I have two nurses working with me while I get treatment, the same as last time. One of them, Mary, recognized and remembers both Janet and I. She was a little confused because I didn't curl my mustache this morning. I didn't because I figured my hair would straighten out again like it did last time and I wanted them to recognize me throughout the treatments. But Mary remembered the curled mustache. Nice to know I leave an impression. Since she was happy about remembering me, it must have been a good impression, too.

So, we were driving to the ferry, and while still on Day Road (where we live) a Lincoln Town-car pulled out of one of the industrial parks along the way in front of us. It looked like Miles' car, but I wasn't sure. When we stopped at the highway and the driver looked to the left to check for a clearing to pull out I saw that it was Miles. So we followed him to town and his office (where he got us a parking sticker so we could park there - close to the ferry - when we went in for treatments last time). I went to say hello and he said hi, then offered to drive us into town for the treatment. He said he had enough work to do on his computer and that he'd be happy to do that. It sure is a generous offer, and I thanked him. But it is not all that inconvenient to walk on and take a cab to the hospital and back to the ferry. It sure is nice to have such good friends, though.

They have changed what they do in the treatments, somewhat. Dr. Chatta told me the lymphoma is closer to borderline on a higher grade than last time so the recommended treatment is every three weeks instead of once a month. So the treatments will be a little more often than I thought. That is OK, though, because that means the first December treatment will be on the 9th - after the chorus show. So I'll be able to reprise my roll in "The Night Before Christmas" without being too wiped out by chemo to perform.

So I'm sitting here waiting to start the treatment (the anti-nausea drugs and a few others have to be in my system for 30+ minutes before we start it. I've updated this for the happenings so far today, and should be updating it for anything that happens later (if anything of interest does), but it looks like a 6-7 o'clock return to the island tonight. In the mean time, I updated the notes I made on Jeff's rules and emailed them to him, and I'm about to check the schedule for tomorrow to see when I need to be in by and then go back to reading my book. Said book, though, is about vampires (yes, I read urban fantasies, though not paranormal romances), and since I've got the IV in my left arm that they will perform the infusion through, and a hole in my right arm where the first nurse (Jen) didn't manage to hit the vein correctly the first time, and another in the right arm where still a third nurse took some blood to give them a baseline for my white blood cell count before chemo, I'm beginning to look for fangs on my nurses!

Mary came in and started the chemo, the Rituxan. Which brings me to the nurses. Mary is the main nurse on my stuff. I've also seen Jen, Shatoya, Tamara, Jill, Miriam, Robyn and Nancy for various things, and I don't think I got the name of the lady who came and took the blood sample. I gave the one who drew blood a bad time about being a vampire and then asked to see her fangs. She laughed, and darned if she didn't have pronounced canines! They are all rushing around, and when something goes beep (as it just did), then whomever is free takes care of it. Of course, the beep is pretty loud. You can hear it through a couple of walls (they heard it when I was in the bathroom with that door and our infusion room doors both closed). In this case, the first time period of infusion was passed, so they could up the rate. They start at 50ml/hour and keep doing the bump up every 30 minutes until they find my maximum tolerated rate (or the maximum treatment rate of 400 ml/hour, whichever comes first), then leave it at that rate for the rest of the treatment. This always happens the first treatment. They will use that max rate for all the rest of the Rituxan infusions in this pass. In my case, they are planning 5-6 treatments (where each is two Rituxan and one Bendamustine over a two day period). Tamara came in and handled the rate change, and that is the first time I saw her today. The reason they are always rushing around is the number of treatments going on all day. I'm in infusion room 17 out of at least 24, and they may all be in use all the time. So the nurses have several they are responsible for, but help with any that need attention when they are near and the responsible nurse is busy. The beep happened and Jen just came and bumped me up to 150 per.

I was reading a bit ago and put the book down to take a nap, but as soon as I put the book down I woke up. This isn't unexpected, since some of the early meds were benadryl, to counter allergic reaction to the Rituxan, which doubles as a sleep aid (my doctor said I could go with Vicks Z-Quill if I wanted, but it is the same stuff and benadryl is cheaper). Now that I've updated this again I'll put the computer down and read some more. It seems I can't do any one thing too long while I'm getting chemo. I noticed it last time and allowed for it this time. That or I'm getting old and can't concentrate for long.

A long time of reading, napping, searching for things on the web, etc., which is why I brought both computer and book. Jen just bumped it up to 400, the max rate. Good news that I haven't had any reaction this time around. About another 30 minutes more on the Rituxan, then I'm on to the Bendamustine, which is a faster infusion. It is 4:17, though, so 6 is an optimistic time to get home.

Well, all went well in the infusions. Tomorrow I only have the Bendamustine, so it should take about 90 minutes total in the hospital. But the ferry was 6:20pm leaving Seattle, and there was fog on the sound and around Bainbridge, so we didn't get in until almost 7, and it was 7:12 by the time we got to the drug store for the medications I need for side effects. But Winslow Drugs is open until 8pm most nights (news to me and probably by the new owner, whom we met) so we were able to pick them up and get home by 7:30. Now I sit here with an adult beverage to hand, the dog happy to have been let out, Janet fixing dinner, and finishing today's letter to you all. I've still got the IV in my left arm, reducing what I can do with it tonight, but it means I won't have to have them stick me anew tomorrow. I've also got the gauze over site of the blood draw, though it can come off now. Oddly, I don't feel nearly as bad as I expected or as I did last time. I think I could even have gone and coached the crew team if we had finished in time. Hmm. Maybe the anti-chemo-side-effect-drugs are more effective these days. Either way, I'm pretty glad about that. I'm still avoiding most of my duties that make me angry, but it doesn't look like I'll be as run down as last time. More treatments will tell, though. For now, unless something happens tomorrow of note, I'm signing off for a couple days. Touch-typing with an IV in one forearm is a low grade continuous pain, so I'll try to avoid it. Of course, I can still play games on the computer with one hand, watch TV (new NCIS and NCIS New Orleans) or read. Somehow, I think I'll have a pleasant evening. Especially with the wonderful aromas of "Evidence Destroyer" wafting from the kitchen to tickle my tastebuds and set my stomach juices to flowing. I am the luckiest man in the world, as my lovely wife was with me all day and brought me a wonderful lunch (nothing but chicken from the hospital cafeteria, and is now taking care of me for the evening. 'Night, all!