Throat Blog — Brain MRI

Well, they did an MRI of my brain and they didn’t find anything. Explains my thoughtlessness, I suppose.

Actually, the meat of the report is:

1. No evidence of intracranial metastases.
2. No MRI correlate for the left frontal lobe lesion suspected on CT neck, suggesting that this was artifactual.

So, on the plus side, complete false alarm. On the down side, I have no excuse for my behavior.

Throat Blog — Update to CT Results

Ok, this post updates the results of the last CT scan to almost entirely good news. After talking over the results with my oncologist, he really believes that the 4 nodules that show as getting slightly bigger aren’t cancer. They are more than likely inflammation caused by aspiration. If they were cancer, they would be doing like the 5 definite tumors are doing…dying. And, cavitation in tumors this small have absolutely no significance other than indicating that the tumor is dying. So, rather than move to an immunotherapy after this round, he’s proposing we do “maintenance chemo” using only one of the drugs (cetuximab/Erbitux) every two weeks. Erbitux’s main side effect on me is the acne-like rash, but it really fades during weeks 2 and 3, so I expect that it will be a non-factor during maintenance.

The one shadow in the results is that I have a brain cloud. Well, he didn’t actually call it that…there is a small something (actually smaller than a BB…it only shows up in one “slice” of the CT) in my left prefrontal cortex. The oncologist thinks it is either a scan anomaly or something benign, but the radiologist recommended a MRI followup, so I’m getting that this evening at 7:15pm. Hope I can stay awake that long. Even if it is a tumor, the oncologist said that it can easily be knocked out with Gamma Knife technology with no hospital stay, no side effects, and no trouble.

Meanwhile, as I predicted, the Week 1 treatment is hitting me harder this round. Just worked a couple of hours each on Monday and Tuesday. Last night, I couldn’t get to sleep until after 3 AM. The skin on my head and face is pretty raw, and I couldn’t seem to find a comfortable position. I intended to sleep late, but between the cat and my normal circadian rhythm, woke up at my normal time, then kind of dozed in and out for a couple of hours before getting up at 8:30AM and coming on into work. Will be nearly a full day (I didn’t get here until about 10AM after stopping for breakfast), as I have to hang around on this side of the world for my MRI, anyway. Might need to close the door and nap…should have brought my binky. My mouth is extremely sore…been having to use the expensive “Magic Mouthwash” w/lidacaine. I think that is also starting to get better, now. Difficult to say…because my voice, such as it is, has reverted to mostly a whisper.

But, I expect to be back on an upswing by this weekend, and will only get better after that. I need to set up a regular mild workout to start getting my stamina back. Getting winded from standing up and walking across the room is not something I want to have hanging around for long. My appetite is still pretty minimal, but I also expect that to start turning around later this week. Managing a full (for me) breakfast, but then only have appetite for a very small lunch and/or (usually “or”) dinner. Got some Udon noodle soup staring at me right now that I should start working on…no way I can go until after the MRI tonight without eating some more.

So that is the update for the week so far. Mostly good news and possibly entirely good news. I’d better get started on that soup before it gets too cold.

A Wreck (and a Wreck)

Driving home, Tuesday, driver behind me gave me a little bump from behind. No major damage, we were both able to drive away after swapping info. He wants to pay out of pocket and keep his insurance company out of it…OK by me, but I still got his D/L and insurance info as backup. Looks like he was wanting to change lanes and checked his mirror at the wrong time…when traffic stopped, he didn’t.

Repair estimate is nearly $1,200. Which is actually less than my first thought, but the bumper piece that would be very expensive is repairable without replacing. So, mostly paint and buff labor expense.

Now to the second wreck…which is me. Wednesday I helped set up a trade show booth in Dallas. My plan was to sit and point. Instead, I ended up doing a lot more physical stuff than I had planned. Plus, any time I gave any direction, I had to repeat myself 2 or 3 times, as only one person at a time could hear me, and had a crew of 6. Got pretty frustrated and very tired.

Thursday, I was still wiped out. I did come to work, but left early and napped for several hours before heading to bed.

Today, Friday, woke up feeling mostly OK. But, when I got to Starbucks and started trying to eat my breakfast, I got my very first bout of nausea. Didn’t eat much, and didn’t toss my cookies, but was worried about it for a bit. Came on into the office, as it is only 15 minutes away from the clinic and I have to go there to get my chemo pump disconnected, so no point in driving back home until after that is done. Think I’ll head there very shortly then head home. Not enough energy to be very productive.

Tomorrow, I had tentatively planned to assist with booth teardown. I’m pretty sure that ain’t gonna happen…hopefully everything will get packed back into the correct crates without me being there.

Throat Blog — Good News/Bad News

So, I’ve been (im)patiently waiting to get the read from the CT scan last Wednesday. Looks like I’ll have to wait until next Wednesday to get the actual reports. But, the doctor did review the reports and gave me a summary that boils down to: “Well, I’ve got some good news, and I’ve got some bad news. Which do you want to hear first?”

So, start with the good news. No new nodules since the last CT scan 3 months ago. And, more good news, the nodules that were there 3 months ago have not gotten bigger. Untreated, they would be expected to double in size about every 3 months.

Now, to kill Pollyanna, the bad news. The nodules that were there 3 months ago have not gotten smaller, either. So, while this regimen is working, it doesn’t seem to be working quite well enough. But, that assessment is real borderline. So, I’ll do a 5th round of the current set of chemo, then will get another CT and determine what to do from there. If still no shrinkage, will probably switch to Keytruda or Opdivo.

Not looking forward particularly to another Week 1. I’m just getting over the last Week 1. I did not really realize how out of shape I’ve gotten. Mostly, I walk or sit. My most strenuous two activities are carrying my laptop into and out of the house and office and walking up the stairs to the chemo lounge on Mondays. But, yesterday I needed to review some wall art at work. These are 3×6 foot prints on a plastic film that we use at trade shows. They might weigh 1/4 pound each. Need to roll out about a dozen. This activity involves squatting down, pushing the roll so that it unrolls, then standing up and sliding the prints apart. I had to sit down to catch my breath twice. I’ve never been in this bad of physical shape. I basically did nearly nothing and it wiped me out.

So, during this week 3 I’m going to try to do some work on the exercise bike, just to get some aerobic capacity back…or maybe just keep it from getting worse. I can’t commit to doing anything next Week 1 or 2, though. On the one hand, the rash and skin effects from the Week 1 chemo have gotten progressively better (I think there isn’t much sun-damaged skin left to burn off). But, on the other hand, the added fatigue gets worse and lasts longer each time. I would have never imagined that I would actually get tired of napping.

And, with that…I think I’ll grab a small lunch and take a nap.

Guitar Gathering 2018 — Friday Workout and Johnny Hiland

Friday morning, Steve treated us to another brain workout…this time all around scales. You can get all the basic material and more from his Major Scale Mastery videos (available from his Storefront). The scales he references are in the pdf material that comes with those videos.

Then the incredibly talented Johnny Hiland spent a little over an hour playing, teaching, demonstrating, and reminiscing about guitar. Some great takeaways from his master class:

  • Guitar Playing (and practicing) should be fun)
  • The most important part of the song is the melody (seems like a duh!, but I know players who get carried away with shredding the solo and completely lose the thread of the melody…).

That doesn’t begin to touch all the high points. Watch the video…you’ll be educated, entertained, and amazed.

Throat Blog — End of the Last Week 1

Ok, I made it through my last “Week 1” 3-drug combo week. As expected, I’m more fatigued than the previous three rounds. After the dehydration of the previous round, I’m making a real effort to stay hydrated and fed, but still going to get a full bag of hydration on Monday along with my Week 2 chemo.

Fatigue, though. Bleh. Headed home very early afternoon this week, and barely hit the couch before completely zonking for 3 or 4 hours. The only one enjoying that is the cat. Until he gets bored and starts grooming me. Tiny cat licks on the face. Must be time to get up and eat something. Oh, and drink another glass of water.

I can’t really complain of feeling bad. No nausea (but little appetite, either). No real weakness. Just hard to keep my eyes open after about 2pm. Skin on my face and head looks pretty bad, today, but should slowly heal up this week.

Big thing to look forward to this week (other than naps) is a CT scan on Wednesday. This should give a very good read on whether this chemo protocol has taken care of things. Considering how bad the rash has been, everyone really thinks that it should be doing a number on the tumors, as well (generally severity of rash is positively correlated to effect on the tumors).

I realized that I don’t currently have any followup appointment scheduled for an oncologist to actually tell me the results of the CT scan…and don’t want to have to wait 8 days for the lab to release the report to me. So, emailing the Dr’s office today to set up a follow-up (or at least ask him to send me the summary as soon as he gets it).

I also want to see about getting the raw CT scan data. I don’t have the chops to be able to read it as far as the tumors go, but I can make a 3D picture that images things like cartilage and bone…if you go back to an older post, you’ll see what I was able to do with a previous CT scan (oh, I’ll just make that image the featured image for that post…no need to look for the old post). It would be nice to know what the structure of my larynx looks like, now…it feels like there is more cartilage in the front, but I really don’t know for sure. CT imaging will show it clearly.

So, forcing myself to stay awake past noon. Been working on the last of my Nashville videos (uploading now, post about that should happen later this afternoon). Planning a new video shoot of a guitarist friend, but want to wait a few weeks so that I have the stamina to get it done.