Epilogue: How does this story end?

I’m a big fan of the “Deadliest Catch” series on Discovery. Catching crab in the Bearing Straits is a crazy way to make a living, and there are some compelling characters on the show. Sometimes, they offer some really good lines.

For instance, at one point the late Capt. Phil is stuck in the harbor with a busted engine. A busted engine he spent a fortune to rebuild before setting out for the season. During the scene, the mechanic is giving him a litany of what’s wrong and what it’ll cost. At one point, he’s looking at the mechanic gape jawed and says “When does this end?”

For me, it’ll be a long time to an ending. Where I am today is they finally did the right scan (more on that in a bit) and I’m in the See-the-Doctors-every-3 to 6 months mode. It’s frustrating since I have this pet peeve about being treated like an annuity. For instance the other day, my Ear-Nose-Throat guy sized me up in like ten minutes and I was given an appointment for 3 months later and shooed out the door. It was almost not worth the drive downtown. Although he’s a spectacular doctor, and Baylor was one of the best hospitals I dealt with, He didn’t tell me much I haven’t been told already by the gaggle of other doctors I deal with.

There’s another great scene in the show where one of the Northwestern’s crew is talking about the beating they received during the season and says something like “You know, when the next season rolls around, I’ll think ‘Well, that last one wasn’t so bad’ and come right back.” Time heals all wounds, and after awhile the details and pain blur. So it is with me. I have to be reminded how awful I looked and felt. I guess I remember the good. True, I’d hate to do it again. But I met a lot of great people, many of which I consider my friends. I wouldn’t trade that for the world. Also, I continue to be humbled by the amount of support given to both me and my family. I don’t know if that can ever be repaid, unless on a “pay it forward” basis.

As far as health goes, I’m struggling with many things that are common to most cancer treatment, and a few that are particular to my therapy. Atrophy, or it’s after effects is probably the worst. I’m still building stamina, but I’m nowhere near where I used to be. I went to the rec center this morning for the first time in eight months. For each weightlifting exercise, the amount of weight I could handle was half or less of what it once was. And even then, I couldn’t do three sets of ten on all the exercises. I spent half an hour on the elliptical, but as with weights, it was half speed, half incline/resistance. I still can’t taste much, so eating can be a chore. I’ve learned that the glass of wine, orange juice, or that citrus fruit isn’t worth the days of scratchiness. And I have to be super careful about mouth hygiene. I even have a set of trays and fluoride I have to use every night. Nothing in my mouth will heal like it used to, probably for years I’m told. Hence the reason for the dentist visit when all this started.

Turns out the last scan, the right one, turned out totally clear. My doctor said that a first scan being clear is extremely rare, he almost never sees it. Usually, he said, they hedge and say this or that area is “of interest” or “possible cancer”. He was prepping us for this news for months. I had been dreading this visit. The last thing I’d want in the world is to endure another round of chemo and radiation.

That office visit and news left me feeling great, in the best mood I’d been in years.

Euphoric, I would say.