Monday, August 6, 2007

I Am Back, One

It's been a while since last I posted and as the words flow, I'll explain why. Before any of that, I thank those of you who "nudged" me to wakefulness during this several weeks slumber. You may never know how your simple question "What's up, Dickie?" made me feel important.

A month ago, I mentioned that my cancer numbers were discouraging, indicating that the drug treatment I was receiving wasn't working. My visits to two separate oncologists told me that I should stop the treatment and clear my system of the drugs. With a clear system and a blood test to prove it, I could then apply for what's known as a "clinical trial." A clinical trial is basically a live human test of a new drug for any purpose.

If a trial is successful, meaning the drug does what it's supposed to do, it's one step closer to FDA approval and sale to the the public through medical community. Of course, there are always risks with these trials among them death. In my case, the risks as described are worth whatever it takes to overcome this cancer.

The two drawbacks are that the window of application may close before my six week cleansing process is complete and the trial compares the new drug or treatment with conventional chemotherapy. Since a computer marries the method and the patient as a condition of the trial, neither the patient or the medical people know which treatment is being administered. I'm worried that I might miss out on the opportunity with the sign-up deadline looming before my body is cleansed. At the same time, I am opposed to chemotherapy on my fine specimen of a body. As I thought about the deadline, no continuing treatment and looming chemotherapy, I slowly went into a blue "funk."

I was depressed. I started losing interest in most everything. If a TV show started moving faster than I could keep up with, I changed channels. I changed channels a lot. In fact, TV became a constant companion. I stayed away from the news most of the time. I liked house make-overs, "American Chopper," "Deadliest Catch," "Good Eats" and my favorite "Take Home Chef." I watched the America's Cup and Le Tour De France at 2AM. I fell asleep many times with the TV on and it watching me. I was so dragged out because of my almost all-night TV that I napped during the day. I slept a lot though it was an hour here, two hours there.

I was too tired to cook are even prepare what might be good for me like salads or vegetables. I did buy lots of easy cooking things like pizzas or breaded chicken. McDonald's was a convenient stop for me though I did manage to avoid the heavy meats, most of the time. I cut up potatoes and roasted them. I found artichokes and steamed them. I read that tomatoes and broccoli were a great combination to defeat prostate cancer and loaded up on them. Then, the same publication said they had it wrong, there was no medical evidence of any prevention. As I continued toward a simpler diet that suited my declining preparation abilities, a new phenomenon came on me.

Almost immediately after I finished a big salad or a any meal for that matter, I was hungry. I couldn't figure this out although someone did suggest I might have an ulcer. When I looked up ulcer symptoms, hunger wasn't one of them. Stranger still, these hunger pangs started occurring while I was eating, maybe half-way through the meal. I tried different foods even resorting to McDonald's, Korean and Chinese foods and even Zippie's and nothing changed. I always got hungry. The only answer I got was from my acupuncturist, who said I had too much "heat" in my stomach. That didn't change much, not even my understanding of what was happening.

I thought I might have some sort of stomach acid problem through a self-diagnosis and administered my first-aid. I mixed some baking soda and water, drinking that. Surprisingly, the hunger pangs went away, almost immediately. Whenever I began to feel these pangs, I drank my concoction and felt relieved. I began to depend on this solution to the extant that if I was hungry at all, I drank. I didn't have to go anywhere or cook anything. If I woke up hungry at night, I drank. When I watched TV for miracle appetite-loss cures, I thought I had something worth advertising. But, there was a downside to this miracle--distress in the lower tract, if you know what I mean. Suffice it to say, that what went down as food came out with much greater vigor than I was used to, so fast that several times I wondered if it wasn't a good idea to just go ahead and sleep on the toilet seat instead of sprinting to it at night. "Just In Time" is not just a manufacturing term, I can tell you from experience.

Surprisingly, the food I most wanted to avoid--Mickey D's, Kal-Bi, Lemon Chicken--comforted me the longest, something I still puzzle over. One would think that all that salt and MSG couldn't possibly have anything to do with satisfying an appetite. Perhaps it was the bulk of each of these meals: the bread in the Crispy Chicken sandwiches or all the rice in the others that lined my stomach. I still don't know for sure but I think I have an inkling. Years ago, someone said if I felt hungry after a meal, it was because I was not getting enough fruits and vegetables. The adventure continues as I add a plethora of fruits and wait for the results. I'll keep you informed.

Through this past month, I've been undergoing acupuncture and massage and the results have been remarkable. For one thing, a hip pain that had me limping for almost a year disappeared almost completely. After about five massages, it reappeared with a vengeance, this time involving the entire leg with pain shooting from my thigh to my toes. I lived on Ibuprofen. I had started a gentle excessive program during the month as I was no longer limping but, that came to a screeching halt since I could bare roll over in bed. I was so disappointed with this turn of events because I was looking forward to slipping on my shoes, hat and sunglasses and going for a morning stroll around Nanakuli. I was feeling stronger, lighter and my unswollen ankles were proudly showing veins and tendons. Now, I was back on my butt, or rather my back, feeling sorry for myself. That was a feeling that gripped me the entire month to which I'll get shortly.

The acupuncture has affected me in ways I never thought. I did feel very tired after my sessions which was explained as normal since acupuncture releases a lot of energy and I wasn't used to that. I might be in bed the entire next day, recovering. One effect was on my diabetic "neuropothy." These are pains in various part of the body caused by nerve endings firing off at will. These pains were typically in my thighs, knees, calves, shins, toes--in short all over my legs. But, they found other places, too, like a finger or an elbow or the side of my head. In the past, I found relief by drinking copious amounts of water along with taking non-prescription pain killers. The pain was usually intense and brief, a lot like someone using pliers deep in my body. Other times, it was like hitting my funny bone only the action was in my finger or toe. Sometimes, the pain throbbed and lasted for 24 hours. In any case, acupuncture seemed to have an affect on this as the frequency and intensity subsided almost immediately. It hasn't gone away completely but we're on the right track, I think.

Another effect was on my diabetes. Right after I started these treatments, my blood sugar started changing for the better, so much so that my insulin injections were giving me trouble. I discovered the change when I woke up in the morning with my blood sugar so low that I had to find candy, maple syrup, anything sugary to allow me to function. I was near fainting. My insulin was driving the blood sugar too low. What was happening was that the acupuncture worked on my pancreas which released my own insulin and that, combined with the shots, had my body using up all available blood sugar to satisfy the insulin. My primary doctor reduced my daily level of insulin and changed my injection time to mid-evenings. I continued to check my blood sugar and found to my amazement that when I forgot to take my shot, my blood sugar levels were normal anyway. I began experimenting by not taking the injection at all to see what would happen; nothing did. My sugar levels normalized. I can only attribute this to the acupuncture. My diet is just as screwy as before. My exercise is off and on. All hail acupuncture!

More, next time...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

On On! Keep up the good fight, my friend, and keep a smile on your face. We'll be in HI in November and hope to see all of you.
Dave B.