Chet The Scribe

My name is Chet Meeks. I am a 32 year old sociologist. I started this blog so that I can write about the things that interest me. I hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

These pictures were actually taken a week ago.

Andy, Jody, and Lexy stayed over for Andy's birthday celebration. Then, on Saturday, we carved a pumpkin for Lexy. These pictures were taken in the yard of my apartment complex.

As you can see in the bottom left picture, Lexy was not nearly as interested in pumpkin carving as she was in carrying around a grocery bag with rocks she was collecting. The bag was a bit bigger than she, but as is usually the case, size did not stop her. The same logic holds true for shoes these days -- the bigger the better. The other day she insisted on wearing my slippers around my apartment while exclaiming "Show Asa!" Apparently she associates Asa with big things. I wonder why. I don't have photos of that, unfortunately, but it is a fun story to tell anyway.

Once the carving was done, Lexy became a bit more intrigued with Mr. O'Lantern, as the photo on the left above shows. She seemed most curious about the stem and the removable skull cap. I thought the most impressive feature was the soul-patch. Apparently our pumpkin is a pseudo-hippie, just like the man who carved him. (Come on, Andy, if Jody would let you get away with a soul patch, you know you would).

In photo 3 I accidentally missed part of Lexy's face, but I included it anyway, even though a photograph without a full face shot of Lexy in it is automatically of far lesser value than any other photo, by default.

Monday, October 30, 2006

My Brother's Here

One of the things that got me through treatment #2 was looking forward to a visit from my brother (Asa) and sister-in-law (Andrea). Here are some pictures of us.

So far we haven't done too much, mostly because I've been tired. But we did go to the Atlanta Underground yesterday, and since it was nearby, I showed Asa and Andrea the Georgia State campus and my office. Then we tried to find them a new place to stay. Their hotel is way out by the airport, but tonight they'll be shifting over to the Gaslight Inn, a really nice B&B that's closer to my apartment. I think this afternoon we will drive over to Stone Mountain, a mind-blowing monument to Confederate Pride (really -- you wouldn't believe it).

My brother is sort of my hero. When we were younger I was absolutely awful to him, a really bad older brother. But he forgave me, thankfully. What I really admire about him is that he is so accepting of others, and of difference. When he was in high school he was always friends with the kids no body else wanted to befriend. Playing football and wrestling, he was easily a part of Rawlins, Wyoming's teenage in-crowd, but he had more fun hanging out with the kids who had no one else. He did not just befriend these individuals to do a good deed -- he really liked them. He was also accepting of me when no one else was. And even now, at 6-foot-whatever and the size of a house, he's probably gentlest person I know. I wish I could be more like him.

Andrea is the sister I always wanted but never had. She has tamed my brother (who, even though he is a wonderful person, had a wild side that would have probably landed him in jail if it weren't for Andrea) quite nicely. She calls me all the time and makes sure that I'm doing okay. And she is the only person living (besides me, I think...I hope) of whom Tache (my cat) approves.

So, here's to the start of my good week, made even better by a visit from Asa and Andrea.

Friday, October 27, 2006

#2: Michael R.

Treatment #2 is now over. I went to the hospital this afternoon to get unhooked. I'm feeling quite well. Many Thanks to all of you who posted comments yesterday. Hearing from people warms my spirits.

The handsome fellow above is Michael. Michael and his partner Ron lived around the corner from me in Oak Park, Illinois. They took good care of me during Cancer #1. They had me over for dinner on Sunday evenings. Michael would make something on the grill, and then we would watch "Desperate Housewives," since it reminded us of the repressed, creepy suburbanites who lived around us in Oak Park. Michael brought me groceries and did my laundry for about a month after my colon surgery. Ron works for the medical-insurance-industrial-complex, and he averted many potentially violent crises at the offices of HMO Illinois by telephoning the supposed "people" who work there and talking them through the bureaucracy of my disease.

I am not always an easy person to take care of during these treatments. I try to remain as cheery as possible, but most people who know me know that I am not all that cheery by nature anyway, much less when I've just been hit with a chemical sledgehammer.

For example, I was not very cheery I awoke this morning. Then I tried to log on to my email account and realized that Michael had changed something on my Sprint card (which I use to get online, and which he has been using while staying here). I had what can only be described as a "fit," which involved me yelling and then a long, uncomfortable silence. Finally, I apologized and Michael fixed the computer. In other words, I was a bad patient and an even worse friend.

But because Michael is such a good friend he forgave me, easily. We laughed. Then, after he brought me home from the doctor's office, he went to Bed-Bath-and-Beyond and bought me a laundry cart with wheels, so I won't have to lug my heavy laundry basket downstairs to the laundry room anymore.

Thanks for putting up with me, Michael, and for staying w/ me through treatment #2.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Thursday Morning and Feeling Good

Just a quick note. My treatment went okay yesterday. Better than #1, I think. I feel much less groggy and foggy headed this time. I think they eased off on some of the benadryl (which they say they have to give me because people have allergic reactions to avastin).

So I came home and laid on the couch and watched TV. Michael fed me (more on him later). (He's snoring in the other room right now). Wendy came over and gave me an eye rub (something they're giving me makes my eyes feel like they're bugging out of my head for the first day....probably the avastin), and watched LOST (which she hates for its violence and tedious plot). (By the way, if any of you understand WHAT ON EARTH the conclusion of LOST was about last night, please clue me in). Then, after Wendy left, I took my special anti-nausea drug and laid on the couch somemore and then went to bed.

And today I feel pretty good, so far. I always feel best in the mornings. I think I might try to go back to sleep for a bit longer just to be safe.

Monday, October 23, 2006

#1: Chad S.

For treatment #1, my friend Chad came from Rochester, NY. Chad (above, with his wife Marie at left) arrived Wednesday night, after nearly 7 hours of flight delays, thanks to that snow storm in Detroit. I was very happy to see him. I only get to see Chad about twice a year, and 2 out of the last 3 times I've seen him, it's been so that he could tend to some illness of mine. He took care of me after my colon surgery, and this time he took care of me during the aftermath of my "first" new chemo treatment.

So, for three and a half days, Chad put up with basically staring at me and the inside of my (very small) apartment. He fed me and made me drink water. Thursday we took a walk to Sevananda, the whole foods co-op near my apartment in Little 5 Points, and that was basically the only real tour he got of Atlanta for his visit. He put up with these claustrophobic conditions with absolute grace.

I guess Chad did get out a bit. He got to meet my friend Wendy, who was taking care of me when he arrived. She fed us seafood pasta (yum, even on chemo....yum, yum) while we watched LOST (my favorite TV program). He also got to meet my friend Mindy, who drove us to the hospital for me to get unhooked from my take-home bag of 5-FU (yes, they call a chemo drug "FU"). This was the visit where I almost fainted because my blood pressure dropped, probably from waiting for my incompetent nurses to finally see me. Chad went with me to pick my car up from the thieving mechanics who jipped me out of $700 (the check-engine light is still on), and he gave me a stern lecture about getting hosed. We also went to Taqueria, my favorite restuarant (so far) in Atlanta. And we spent a few hours Saturday with Jody, Andy, and Lexy before Chad had to fly back to NY. We had breakfast, and then Andy drove Chad to the airport.

I'm really grateful that Chad could be here. He's a very peaceful person and he makes those around him feel very safe. He gave me a Reike treatment. And he taught me a Sufi prayer that has given me a lot of solace. I'm also grateful to Chad's wife, Marie. Chad is getting his PhD at SUNY-Buffalo, and because he has to commute back and forth, he and Marie do not get to spend a great deal of time together, so it was a special sacrifice on her part to spare him for a few days.

Thank you Chad and Marie.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The News Since Treatment #1

So, I have completed my first treatment of "Folfiri + Avastin." The treatment was brutal...just awful, really. Irinotecan is much harder on me than Oxalaplatin was. (I guess my constitution must be better equipt at processing platinum than it is plastic....who knew?) Plus they give me so many other things to prevent allergies, infections, and the like, that by the time I left the office (after 6 hours! of infusion), I was like a walking chemical plant. They gave me an IV of benedryl (sp?) that was especially awful -- it made my head foggy and, in fact, I ended up not remembering a lot of the treatment because of it. This might have been a good thing, in the final analysis.

But I did recover from treatment #1 in about the same amount of time that I used to recover from the Folfox treatments. The treatment began on a Wednesday and I got "unhooked" from the take-home chemo on Friday. Then I relaxed over the weekend and, by Monday, I was back to work. I think the Neulasta shot helped. Neulasta is a drug that boosts white-cell counts. It makes you feel fluish for about a day and then, bingo, you feel like a normal person again. Better than normal, actually. It's a great drug. I guess that's why, at least if what I've heard is correct, Neulasta costs $5000.00 per injection. I'll address in another post the corruption, criminality, and goulishness of the medical establishment.

So I've felt fine since treatment #1, thankfully. A b it of tiredness here and there. It also appears that the lesion on my navel is shrinking! That might or might not be an indication of what's going on inside of my body, but I'll take whatever good news I can get.

Treatment #2 begins this Wednesday morning. After 4 treatments they'll scan me again and see whether or not I'm ready for surgery.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Starting All Over -- Again

As most of you know, I was diagnosed with Stage III Colon Cancer in September of 2005. After that diagnosis, I underwent 6 months of chemotherapy to try to remove any traces of cancer that my surgery missed.

And, as most of you know, the chemotherapy I underwent did not work. I have had a recurrence of Colon Cancer. This time the cancer is not in my colon, it is in my "mesentary" (i.e., my "fat"). It may also have metastesized to my liver (something I will learn more about tomorrow). And since "Modern" medical science has not found a more sophisticated way of battling cancer than sledgehammering it to death, I will begin chemotherapy -- again -- tomorrow morning at 9am.

So while I used to use this blog to make fun of politicians and other public officials I didn't like, I am now going to be using it to update all of you about my condition. It's a bit more efficient than saying the same thing over and over on the telephone. I'm also going to post a calendar on here to try to keep track of who among all of my wonderful friends and family members is coming and going for the battery of treatments I'm beginning. And, finally, I'm also going to use this space to reflect on the meaning of illness and recovery, to complain
(a lot), and probably still to make fun of politicians and other public officials I don't like.

So the picture above is of me, today, on October 10th, 2006. I look and feel well, but I'm not. And beginning tomorrow, I will start to look, and feel, a whole lot worse -- thanks to the plastic-based chemotherapy drug (Irinotecan) I will be "infusing" on a bi-weekly basis. I hope that you will all read my blog, and I hope you'll also feel free to respond to what I write. It would be great if all of the great people I know who helped me with my last struggle with cancer could get to know each other a bit better.

So -- here we go. Nothing less than victory this time.