Dont pay the ransom

I’ve escaped

A week ago I had the good fortune to receive another visit from our local firefighters EMC unit. Very dizzy and couldn’t breath. The ER doctors determined that it was due to dangerously low levels of both white blood cell count and red cell blood count.I was admitted to the hospital and after five units of whole blood and a packet of platelets, I was discharged on the sixth day feeling just about same as when I was initially admitted.

Trying to rest and not do anything that will throw my counts out of whack, Just taking it easy for the time being.


Posted by on June 9, 2011 in Notes & Communiqués


Dragon Killers

An old friend whose won this battle and one who is just starting the fight.

I’ve been in communication with and those who have won their battle with cancer and one friend who, like me, is just beginning the arduous journey.

One of the first I reached out to was an old friend who had beaten lung cancer. Randy gave me some idea of what to expect along with a direct order to stay positive. Got a note from him today. He checks in with me from time to time to see how I’m doing and to make sure I’m not slacking on my attitude. Boo-rah!


A friend and classmate started her first chemo treatment for breast cancer last Tuesday. I wish her the easy time I had with my first sessions. There are plenty of tough times ahead but don’t get discouraged. Lean on your friends, Bonnie. They will keep you strong.


Posted by on May 28, 2011 in Notes & Communiqués



But not a very inspiring entry

I am grateful for the long morning today and the time late last night when I felt fine (relatively speaking). The rest of the time since my last post, has been pretty bad. I shall not dwell on this since my entries are supposed to be a catharsis for me and I don’t want to even think about it right now. Ugly.

I’m in rest mode until I can gather strength to bounce about with confidence. It will get better. I’ll get the scan results on the 21st and it will be good news. I’ve got to believe the chemo can’t cause this much devastation to my body without doing some really bad things to the cancer. I expect a positive report from the scans.


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Posted by on May 27, 2011 in Notes & Communiqués


Back on the Poison Trail

Ride hard CHEMOsabe

My unpaid chauffeur picked us up for my early session this morning. I was pretty much in control of my walking but nevertheless Maggie insisted that I use a wheelchair in view of my episodes over the weekend which I will not go into (suffice to say I had a very bad time).

Spoke with the good doctor, asked some questions, got some answers and then had the uneventful chemo treatment.

Had a good meat and three. T’was a fine outing.


Must mention the most extraordinary correspondence I received Friday from a best good friend of my best good friend. Won’t divulge the banter from the private emails we shared, but it was a delightful exchange. Her words made me laugh. She is definitely cut from the same mold as Gene – and I think me – only with more subtle analytical skills and wordsmithy polish. I plan to keep in touch with her. 

Well …  what that really means is that means I’ll badger her until she responds.


Posted by on May 23, 2011 in Notes & Communiqués


Whines and Other Rants

Return of the bad stuff

Big steroids that I despise
Throwing shadows on my eyes.
Leave us
Helpless, helpless, helpless.
apologies to Neil Young
Yeah, I know. I seem to be complaining more than usual lately. Don’t care, I’m going to tell these stories and then never again mention a bad day. (Ha).
Thursday my glucose meter read “HI” which is the step above 500, the last numerical reading. I was coughing up mucus (what a pretty picture, eh?). Eyes blurry and my muscles had completely given out again. I could not get out of bed. What a terrible feeling when you cannot even set up by yourself. Maggie was wonderful of course, taking care of me and telling me that it would pass. She called all my doctors and gave them the symptoms, asked the right questions, and got prescriptions for what may be pneumonia and a double secrete formula prescription wash for mouth sores.
Eventually (after using the piss cup Maggie once again had the foresight to buy) I was able to get to the bathroom with her assistance. In the evening, with her help using the walker she had brought up from the basement, I was able to make it to the living room to eat my dinner – a sumptuous mac and cheese dish.
Afterward, I was able to stand alone and (using the walker) return to my bed. It’s very strange. Like I’ve been tased for twelve hours. Today I’m a little wobbly – but moving on my own.
Have to tell this story. Maggie’s hair day at 2:00. She drops by the pharmacy to pick up the medications on the way via the drive through at 1:45. The pharmacist assistant says the wrong thing to my wife – “It’s not ready”. This was the follow exchange according to my Maggie whom I’ve never known to exaggerate. 
Maggie: “What? It was called in at 8:20”. She knows this because the nurse told he when it was call in. 
PA: “We don’t open untill 9:00”
Maggie: “Voice mail – VOICE MAIL!. Doesn’t somebody check voice mail for prescriptions”
The pharmacist then came over to the window.
Pharmacist: ” I just got the voice mail for your prescription 45 minutes ago.
Maggie: Bullsh*t. you got it at 8:20 am. You just listen to it 45 minutes ago. You know my husbands’ condition. And the new prescription is for pneumonia. I’m tired of this sh*t. I’ll come back later.
She drove away to her hair appointment. At the stop sign she slammed on brakes, backed up, found a handicap spot and went into the store. She lumbered (bad knees) to the back where the pharmacy is located and sat down and stared at the pharmacist.
Pharmacist: “I’ll fill Mr. Graham’s order right now”. 
Maggie: “Good”. Should have been already filled – I’m really pissed off”.
Mag turned to the woman, with two teenage boys also waiting for prescription fills.
Maggie: “Please pardon my French”.
Woman: Glancing at the pharmacist “Believe me, I understand completely”.
PA: At pay up time, (remember the mouthwash). “This is $57 dollars – it’s not covered by your insurance”.
Maggie:”Like I give a sh*t”. Looking at the pharmacist, “Someone should take a long look at what we paid through insurance and out-of-pocket for last year and this year if that’s what influences good service. We both go into the Medicare “gap”. I’m there now and he will be there shortly. Two in the gap before the middle of the year? Do the math.That’s how much money you make off us … and I’m fed up with bad service”. The pharmacist smiled sweetly and told her ” I’m praying for Mr. Graham” as if this would make up for her ineptitude.
We discussed what happens when she returned home. I got a big laugh. We have decided to move our prescriptions to a smaller independent pharmacy just down the road. They’re not open Sundays but they do deliver.
They will be thrilled to have our business, I’m sure. If this was Las Vegas, we’d be whales.
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Posted by on May 20, 2011 in Notes & Communiqués


Out of My Throat

Last visit to the Thoracic Surgeon 

Maggie drove the interstate like a pro… well, a white-knuckled pro. Dropped in a Tia restaurant for lunch (it’s the little hole-in-th-wall wall where we’ve met for lunch, Mikey). Good stuff. My TS office is just on down the street.. 

Final consultation will be: Walk in, he looks at the scar and says “yes, everything fine” and then bills my insurance a bundle. I know he drill. However, first off I ask if he has time for a couple of questions and comments before the cursory examination.

II asked if I will always have this weak raspy voice or will it get better in the future.

Doc: “Well, that’s really hard to tell. I might get a better but again it might not. Hard to tell” 

Me: “Spoken like a true highly skilled medical professional. I know that you are professional and highly skilled and very good at what you do because if you were not you would not still be a doctor. Right?”

Doc: “Well, yes I suppose that’s right.”

Me: “You know, before I retired I was a highly skilled professional and very good at what I did as well – and being a professional, one expects those with whom one deals to value honesty in dealing with others. When you visited me in the ICU – a place you must admit that I should never have ended up …” My best askance look and a pause for comment. It came.

Doc: “Well there are certain situations when the staff recommends ICU …”

Me – interrupting. “Even if everything went well? That’s what you told me in your brief visit to the ICU. If you recall I was having a terrible time and when you stood in the doorway and proclaimed “everything went well” and I replied “Oh, really?”, instead of being honest about what really happened, you, in what I could only take as reaction of what you felt was an incredulous remark, said “Yes, it went fine”, spun around and left. I just wanted to let you know how I felt about that. You could have explained exactly what had happened to land me in ICU gasping for breath – even if it was not your doing. It was as obvious to you as it was to me that “everything did not go fine. I would have appreciated some sort of explanation instead. I felt your response was arrogant and unprofessional.”

Doc:.”What I was referring to was my procedure (medianoscopy) which did go well. The damage was obviously done in the preparatory work to open the passage way. I don’t enter the OR until the anesthesiologist has put you under.”  Pointing a silent finger to the gas passers. Not my fault.

He fumbled with my chart flipping through the pathology results as if there was a magical entry that would satisfy me.. Enough spanking – don’t enjoy seeing people squirm. I told him that I now understand the damage was from the prep work so I apologize for thinking it was his procedure … but that he still could have cleared that up during his visit. I thanked him for allowing me to speak my mind, and he in turn thanked me for bringing my displeasure on how he handled he situation to his attention. Shook hands. Ciao.

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Posted by on May 18, 2011 in Notes & Communiqués


Graduation Day

Last CyberKnife Treatment

In the big cool room
We danced till two
And there I gave my tumor to you
We’ll remember always
Graduation day

apologies to songwriters Sherman/Sherman 

Greg’s my wingman today for the final shiv from the robot. We’ll do lunch and then the deed. Can’t tell you how much I.m looking forward to ending this phase simply because of the inconvenience of distance. The rest of my fight will hopefully be at the nearby clinic (or associated hospital) that’s only about 15-20 minutes away.


We got an early start and had lunch in the direction of the CyberKnife center. I had suggested the start time a bit too early to make it a seamless transition to the appointment time (about two hours – okay, I’m obviously not too good with time/distance calculations, but Greg does not drive the same speed as my wife). We made the most of it by chatting in his car in the parking lot till close to the time to go in. Nice day. Windows down. Good conversations with a good friend. Was enjoyable.   

Treatment completed. Dr. K. gave me the schedule of my withdrawal from the steroids which will take eighteen days. His office call before I got home and already had the follow-up MRI scheduled for June 20th and results consultation on he 21st. I expect to see nothing but positive results.

My “Lean on Me” Buddy O’the Day, Greg had a good question – the answer I had suspected but had never inquired about. Did the workings of the treatments overlap – and was the effect of the first treatment still active. Dr. K told us that the first session is indeed still actively working. Good – got a lot of anti-dragon venom in there working overtime.

They gave me the my mask. Odd looking thing. Maybe I’ll put it on for a photo and post it on the site.

Tomorrow, one final “away game” on Acton Road for the final consultation with the thoracic surgeon. My guess is that it will be nothing more than “Yes, Mr. Graham everything went great and yes you will always speak in that weak raspy voice and yes I had to leave you with a larger than normal crooked scar and yes it is not unusual for the procedure to put some patients in the ICU gasping for breath”. And that’s all history. So be it. Minor stuff.

Starting back on chemo next Monday. Action. Moving on.


Posted by on May 17, 2011 in Notes & Communiqués