Side Effects- continued

Adding to yesterday’s list of side effects we can add a total lack of energy. Today it felt like I’d worked out too hard the day before. Not the muscle weariness but that bone tiredness, heavy arms, heavy legs. I’m wide awake not sleepy or anything like that. Just tired..

I expected to feel this last week around Thursday or Friday, feeling this way going into this week is a bit worrisome, hoping that it passes quickly because the next dance ticket is this Saturday.

Side Effects

So far so good on the side effects. The list has been

Migraines

Body ache (joints)

Sudden lack of energy

Muscle Cramps

All in all not too bad of a laundry list of things after the first round. I have gotten blood work taken on Wednesday and there are already signs of stress on my liver some of my markers are higher than what they should be and others are taking. Right now it’s the wait-and-see game.

Time to Dance again

I’m back at it again. I went in for my annual scans and bloodwork and found a dime-sized spot on my left lung and Non-Hodgkin’s markers showed in my blood. A week later I went in for a needle biopsy to see what type of cells were on my lung. That test came back as Non-Hodkin’s, the exact cell type.. I’d have to go dig for it. The bad is that I have cancer. The good thing is that there were two case study options that are not standard chemotherapy. I chose the treatment that is 3 months long and I get an infusion for 3-4 hours long every two weeks. I’ve had one so far, in the grand scheme of things it wasn’t a 10 on the suckfest scale. A solid 6 but not a 10 on the Jason scale. So far body aches headaches and a general lack of energy. So far manageable by my experience. As this dance progresses I’ll come back here and try to keep everyone updated here.

I am home and I’m the healthiest I’ve been starting this dance both physically and mentally.

Why Did I stop writing?

Why did I stop writing on my blog? Why so long between writing? Did I think that since I wasn’t fighting cancer my story wasn’t relevant anymore?

The short answer is yes. I’m a 48-year-old man who, through many reasons and decisions, moved in with my parents. Was I a failure, running home, back to mom and dad?  

At first I felt like that, and with that there’s the built in self-doubt and shame of not being able to survive on my own. I survived the Marines, I survived cancer, and now I was living at home.  

Those are all things that, when I first packed up and left California and moved back to Chicago,  ran through my head that I had to process.

Moving back home was the smartest, healthiest thing I could have done. My physical and mental health is the best it has been in years, maybe even decades. It’s hard to believe that for 2 decades I fought that demon, but when fighting demons you get beat up and scarred pretty badly. Many of those scars aren’t visible. I have the insides of a 90-year-old. With everything that I went through, you could say I have a form of PTSD, or mental quirks that are similar. I joke about it, and have always joked about it, that I’ve been resuscitated so many times, 47 to be exact. Now let me clarify something: this isn’t times my heart has stopped. This is the number of times it’s taken an outside source, either CPR or defibrillation—aka the paddles, someone yelling “clear,” then getting 200 joules pumped through me—to get my heart to beat again, and in a good rhythm.  

All of this adds up and has caused long-term damage, both physically and mentally, but all of it is hidden from the public eye. I mean, looking at me and talking to me on a normal day you wouldn’t/can’t really tell the differences unless you know what to look for.  

It took me a bit to come to terms with the reality that I can’t live alone. Over all the years of living with roommates, it just didn’t work out with my health issues. How can you really expect someone to truly help take care of you? This isn’t a dig on all of my past roommates, just some of them.

I digress though. When in that head space of self-pity and wallowing it felt like I would be doing nothing but moping and complaining, and who really wants to listen to that shit? Getting healthier and in a better headspace and surrounding myself with people who are positive instead of negative were the first steps to admitting to myself that I am not a failure at life.

So the long and the short of it all is I’m healthier, both physically and mentally—mostly mentally, lol—so now I’m sharing again. Welcome back to the ride. May this one not be as much of a roller coaster as we have had.

Dogs dogs dogs

Many people ask what does having a service dog mean to me? That’s a pretty loaded question because it has so many different aspects to being a service dog handler that a lot of people just don’t think about.

Most are positives but there are some negatives. The biggest positive is the freedoms he allows me to not be tied constantly to machines and to have an ever constant vigilant companion that gives his all even when i’m not feeling my best. Watching over me even when I’m sleeping.

But with the good there are some negatives. Having a service dog is like having a toddler you have to make sure that you have everything they need at all times not matter what. Food/water and protection are just the tip of the iceberg. I carry with me a go-bag with all the things I can think of that I may need during an outing. It’s a full on diaper bag for a dog.

You lose a lot of your privacy. People have no problems asking personal questions. “Why do you have a service dog?” What does he do for you? These are just a few of them. The talking to him the distracting of him from doing his job. Would you come up to someone in a wheelchair and start moving it around without the consent of the person sitting in it? That’s what you are doing to a handler by talking to their dog.

The one statement that is said constantly without thought is. “I wish I could bring my dog everywhere I go.” Well I wish I could sit down at a restaurant in a chair without fear of my heart stopping as I sit there. We don’t want to be disabled, we wish we could lead a normal life, but we weren’t dealt those cards. Would you tell a person in a wheelchair that you wish you could sit in their chair all day?

I was talking to another handler who’s a veteran and one of the things that people say to him is “well you chose to join the military.” To me that’s just a total bullshit statement. That’s like saying well he chose to drive.. giving an excuse as to why/how someone got injured in a car accident. Or say “you asked for it to any person ever..” Yeah I went there, that’s how disrespectful and hurtful statements like this are.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not all bitter and grumpy. I as part of the group I’m involved in advocate and educate stores, restaurants, places of business, and multiple groups locally. An example came from a friend at work who has a young daughter who wanted to take their family dog to Outback restaurant. My friend used my story pictures and videos to explain how only Service dogs “special dogs” are allowed and why. To be invited to girl scout troupes as part of their badge work to teach them about service dogs. These moments outweigh any time someone comes up to me and asks or says something intrusive.

Here is a link from a video filmed and produced by the Crown Point Community Foundation the Group I am involved in Pets n Vet’s is a recipient of a grant from them.

Now in Treatment again

In treatment for 16 days.

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