Monday, February 28, 2011
This resulted in about a three hour drive to work for me this morning. You did in fact read that correctly, three hours. Due to rain.
The glaring example of how bad it is:
I passed a sign on route 495 South that said the exit for route 111 was in one mile. By the time I reached the actual exit I had seen two accidents that involved police and/or tow trucks, and three other cars spun off the road. That was just on the left side of the highway, I couldn't really see anything on the right.
I'm feeling like an elastic band that is stretched really tight and it's all the weather's fault. I think it's time to move to San Diego.
I have this vague notion of what that means. Basically she takes some medication that makes her feel terribly ill while killing off the cancer cells that make up the tumor. I don't know anything more specific than that, and most of me is afraid to find out.
If I get a chance today I will try to do a little research, but again... I'm kind of afraid to.
I think the drug in question is methotrexate. I'd read that name in a few places, and I think one of the doctors said that to my brother and sister.
I'm optimistic about the results, but I'm very afraid of the process.
Sunday, February 27, 2011
I got plenty of updates though. She was a little more confused than she had been on Friday. That's the bad news. The sort of good news is that she is scheduled to start chemotherapy on Monday. I say sort of good because they are finally treating her disease, which is wonderful, but at the same time... It's going to be awful.
Keep the positivity coming Mom's way.
I'm going to try to finish today, I've even just finished the guitars on crappy number 3, but I'm not holding my breath.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Jen woke up sick today after having less than four hours of sleep in two of the last four nights. I'm getting sniffly and sneezy too.
We'll try again tomorrow.
They had been giving her an anti-anxiety drug called Atavan. Apparently my mother falls into a small percentage of people over a certain age who react badly to the drug.
They took her off of it and gave her something else and POW! My mother came back to us.
She's still very sick, and she still has a long road ahead, but what a relief!
She had a biopsy yesterday. It went well. In preparation for the expected results (which we won't see for 5-7 days) they started her on steroid treatments last night. They expect the steroids to start reducing the symptoms almost immediately.
Again, what a relief!
Friday, February 25, 2011
I spoke to John last evening and he said it was scheduled for 12:00. I spoke to Dad last night and he said 10:30. I don't know if it was changed or if there was a misunderstanding or if one refers to the operation and the other refers to the pre-operation.
I don't care.
It happens today. John also told me that they may start the first part of the treatment today even before the results come back from pathology. The first thing they'll do (if everything I've read on the Internet is correct... and everything on the Internet is true and honest and genuine... right?) give her steroids.
Bring it on. I want my mother to have enough steroids to let her hit clean up in the major leagues. This is the step in the therapy that is supposed to more or less eliminate the memory and confusion symptoms. I hope it works as quickly as they've lead us to believe. The kids really want to see her, but we're hoping she clears up a little before we bring them along.
I left work yesterday because I thought things were happening in the hospital. They weren't. I also had to run an errand for the kids' father. They are going on a cruise in a couple of months and the kids need passports, and the passport application needs a copy of our marriage license to show why Jen's name changed. I took care of that. I ended up being home in time to go with Jen to pick up the kids at their after school/school vacation program.
The kids saw Jen and me having a really rough time on Wednesday night. I didn't want them to see us getting so upset, but they did. My step son made presents for us in arts and crafts. My step daughter made us a hang-in-their-its-going-to-be-all-right card. I almost lost my shit and turned into a blubbering puddle of tears of happiness. They saw us being upset and went way out of their way to do something nice to cheer us up. They are the best two kids on the planet Earth. Bar none. I knew it all along, but they just dotted the i's and crossed the t's yesterday. It never ceases to amaze me that those two kids have taken me into their family the way they have. I am just a big tubba schlub but for some reason they seem to actually like me. I couldn't possibly be any happier. It's just amazing to me. I love them so much.
Anyway... what was I talking about before I was once again overwhelmed by how much I love my family and how ridiculously lucky I am?
Mom had a pretty good night last night. She was medicated pretty heavily and that might be the reason, but she was all right with Dad and John leaving at the end of visiting hours. There were no phone calls and no crying and no instances of the tumor taking over and being mean. Lisa and Mary also managed to get to the hospital for a while yesterday. Jen and I are planning to go tonight after work. We're going to have to drive in separately, which sucks, but we'll both be there.
I've been saying this since Monday morning, but hopefully soon we'll have some hard facts to work with.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
We've been doing some speculating on what the diagnosis will be. The doctors we've talked to are all mostly sure what they are going to tell us, they just need to do the tests to confirm what they are already pretty sure of.
That link is to a page that discusses treatments for the kind of tumor we are pretty sure my mother has.
Dad and John spent the day with her. Just before visiting hours ended they were told she would be going in for another CT scan. They got to stay until that was finished, but it didn't take long. They were also told that her diet was being changed and that she was on a no-food-after-midnight plan. That's good. That means that she should be having her biopsy today. Finally.
She had much more help through out the day and night too. She had what the hospital calls "sitters" assigned to her. Their job is to stay in the room with her and get her help when she needs it... and in this case, tell her she can't get out of bed when she tries to "go to the kitchen" or "go to her other bed upstairs" or when she sees some one in the hallway who passed away years ago.
On Monday, during a clear moment, she asked John to please make sure some one stays with Dad while she's in the hospital. We're trying but its going to be nearly impossible. I stayed with him last night, John the night before. I did not handle being away from my family very well, even though it was one friggin' night. I felt like the worst son and worst husband ever. I don't know if I can do it again, and I sure as hell can't ask my brother to handle it himself. He has already done 100 times more for my parents than any of us since this whole ordeal began. I only get to see my step kids two days this week. I didn't see them between Monday morning and last night, but I never see them between Monday morning and Wednesday night. John didn't see his kids during that stretch either, but he should have. We're just not going to be able to make it work. A night here and there, maybe, but this could stretch on indefinitely.
I feel like such an asshole.
They better do that damn biopsy today, and the lab and the pathologist had better fast track it and finally get us some real information.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Over the last week or two my mother has been having memory issues. Part of it is forgetfulness, part is remembering things that didn't happen. There was also some confusion involved. She did a few things that made absolutely no sense to anyone but her and then after a while wouldn't remember it. Later she'd try to do the exact same nonsensical thing.
She had called her doctor and booked an appointment. The doctor had some tests she wanted performed. It was supposed to all be happening over the next couple of weeks.
On Monday morning she was having dizzy spells. Dad called her doctor, who wasn't available. He then called the doctor who is covering for her, who ironically is my doctor. She told Dad to get her to Saints Memorial in Lowell.
They checked into the ER and had a CT scan. The ER doctor told them it was a brain tumor and immediately shipped them via ambulance to Mass General in Boston.
Based on the doctor in Lowell's statements they had a Neurosurgeon see her when she got into an ER bay in Boston. He gave her an exam and checked the CT films. I don't believe he was confident enough in what he saw to completely agree with the first doctor, so he ordered an MRI and asked to have a Neurologist examine her.
They brought her to the Imagining department and put her into the MRI machine and she had a panic attack. I don't believe that had anything to do with the situation. I think that only had to do with how nasty an experience an MRI can be.
They moved her to the ER department's observation floor and put her in a room. They let a little time pass and gave her some anti-anxiety medication and then went back to Imaging to try again. We were told that she had a tough time again, and that she kept moving inside the machine, but after a few tries they thought they had some images that might be usable.
So here's the time frame for the day so far. They went to the hospital at about 6:00am. John was with them then. They checked into Mass General at about noon. Jen and I got there shortly after that, and John got there shortly after us. I think the first MRI was at 4:00 or so. Lisa and Ken and Aunt Nancy arrived before the first MRI. The second MRI was, I think, sometime after 6:00. She got back to the Observation room at some time between 7:00 and 8:00 I think. Jen and I had left to go back to Lowell and get Dad's car and bring it to his house. We also had been lead to believe that the Hospital was expecting her to be an outpatient and we needed to swap our little car for our van so that we could drive them home. We got back to the room before 10:00.
The Neurologist arrived at about 1:00am. He gave her more or less the same exam that the Neurosurgeon had given when they first arrived in Boston, but it was longer and a little more detailed. She did perfectly well on all of the physical things, and she did pretty well on the memory things as well. So much so that the doctor was under the impression that her confusion was actually getting better.
It was not. It was much, much worse. When asked by the other doctors, Dad said that there might have been two or three episodes a day. By the time the Neurologist arrived it was pretty much constant. She couldn't remember where she was, or why she was there. She kept trying to get out of bed to leave. Occasionally she'd remember some of what was going on, but for the most part she was just confused.
Talk of outpatient procedures more or less ended when we told the doctor how she had declined over the course of the day. He mentioned two procedures that he wanted to have done before he could make a diagnosis. He also said that the entire Neurology team at the hospital would be seeing her and working on the case. I have since dubbed them "The Dream Team." Sometimes I just can't not be a smart ass.
He said that his best guess was that the diagnosis would be Lymphoma. He told us that it sounded crazy, but we should actually be hoping for that. Lymphoma would be the most treatable of all the possible diagnosis that he was considering. Personally, when he said "treatable" I heard "curable" and I need to stop doing that. As much as I want them to be, those two words are not synonyms.
Anyway, Jen and I left the hospital shortly after 2:00am. Lisa, Ken, and Nancy had left earlier. Lisa has a 3 week old baby to feed. She feels bad about not being able to spend more time at the hospital, but we all understand. The baby needs her. If she can get to the hospital now and then that's great, but if she can't then that's fine too. The baby comes first. She knows all of this. She just has to stop worrying about it. Easier said than done, but we all understand. Got that, big sister? You are doing the right thing.
So John and Dad stayed with her the first night. The Observation Ward (is Ward the correct term?) did not adhere to any visiting hours schedule and had no problem with them staying the night. She had a rough time of it. She'd sleep for a while and then wake up really confused and try to get out of bed to go home, or to the kitchen, or to some other place. She got agitated and upset when Dad and John would try to tell her what was going on.
On Tuesday morning she had the first of the two procedures we were told about. It was a Lumbar Puncture. I guess it's similar to a spinal tap. They warned her it would be painful, and she was nervous, but she did fine. Later The Dream Team visited with her and more or less restated what the doctor had said at 1:00am that morning. Probably Lymphoma, and that is the most treatable of all of the possible diagnosis.
Jen and I were both at work. We had talked about it and felt that if they did a biopsy we would drop what we were doing and go to the hospital. Fortunately we both work for very understanding people.
At around 2:00pm I got a call from Lisa. She told me that The Dream Team had been discussing the biopsy, and that it was going to happen. I took that to mean the biopsy had been ordered and scheduled. I told Jen and we dropped what we were doing and went to the hospital. On the way I talked to John, who sounded 95% asleep after his grueling 32 hours or so, and he corrected me. We went in anyway. Mary was on the way to the hospital to relieve John and Dad so they could go back to my parents' house and get some much needed sleep. When Jen and I got there we could help Mary.
Just before we got there she was moved from the ER Observation room to the Neurology Department. The Neurology Department told us that they are pretty strict about visiting hours. We would probably be kicked out of the room by 8:00pm. One of the nurses in Observation had warned us about this after the Neurologist had been in to examine Mom in the wee hours of Tuesday. We had done a lot of work preparing Mom for this. She had to stay, but we couldn't stay with her.
At about 7:00 last night that some how connected in her head and she got really upset. She was beside herself. She was furious with the whole family for betraying her and screwing her over and leaving her in the nut house. We just sat there and took it. I kept explaining the situation to her and she'd get mad, but then seem to get it for a few seconds, and then get mad again. The nurse let us stay a little while longer (thank you) and gave her some anti-anxiety meds (thank you) and eventually she seemed to run out of gas and she started drifting toward sleep. By then she had forgotten most of what she was upset about.
When we left, the nurse was in the room with her. By the time we made it to the parking garage Mom had gotten mad again, found the phone, and called Dad to let him know how upset she was. By the time we got to the highway she had calmed down and called Dad again and everything was all right. It's almost like there is a clear difference between when Mom is talking to us and when the tumor is talking to us. We just have to learn to see that difference real time and not get upset when we're hearing the tumor. I am positive that that is overly simplistic horse shit spewed out by a moron who took an intro to psychology class at a community college, but I don't care. I'm sticking with that line of thought, and if you don't like it you can screw.
John was staying with Dad last night and we got a bunch of text messages around 4:00am. She had woken up confused and called home a few times. The nurse had asked the doctor on duty for some help. I'm pretty sure she was asking for permission to up the anti-anxiety dosage. She told us that she'd do that if she felt it was necessary.
Visiting hours today are supposed to start at 1:00. I think. That's what the Observation nurse told us late Monday night. The overnight nurse told us that they were pretty loose with when they would let people in. They said most procedures are done in the morning so it was busy, and there was a shift change in there to deal with as well, but they'd still let visitors in early. Dad and John were planning to be there by around 11:00 or so. Hopefully when they get there they will have some good news. I really want that biopsy to happen. That is the procedure that will have the best chance of giving the clearest answers. However, we were told to expect that it might not happen until tomorrow. We should have a diagnosis by the end of the week, but that seems so very far away.
Okay. That's the situation. I wrote it down here because I was hoping it would make me feel a little better. It did... a little... a tiny bit. Also, I know that most if not all of the people who read this stupid blog already know what's going on so I figured it wouldn't hurt to spew it all out. I'll probably go back to being less than specific from now on.
Until then though, if you can spare some happy thoughts or some good vibes or some prayers or some positive energy or some specifically aligned candles or some rubbing of a statue's belly or a kiss on a blarney stone or anything that might help turn the universe in our favor, then I would be much obliged.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
I don't care.
We got there just after noon. we left just after 2:00am. We had most of the vague information we had confirmed in theory, but nothing concrete came out of any of it. There's a procedure about to happen right now that is going to be painful. I'm worried about everything and everyone.
We got to bed at around 3:00am and woke up at 7:00am. Everyone is exhausted and, like I said, we don't have any really solid information yet beyond the fact that something is wrong.
It was an extremely stressful day, and it just seemed to keep getting worse. My father and my brother stayed the night and I think they had a really rough time.
It could be days still before the speculation turns into fact.
Keep the positive thoughts coming. If you know what I'm talking about then you know why. If you don't, then just trust me and send happy thoughts our way.
ps: The procedure they did was painful but it went well. May that please be the first in a long line of pieces of good news.
Monday, February 21, 2011
I love my wife tremendously. She is extraordinary and I can't believe how lucky I am.
I'm not sure how, but I know this is George W Bush's fault.
Just a friendly reminder from that bitch Mother Nature that Spring is still a month away.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Saturday, February 19, 2011
I have one song completely recorded.
I am about to say something else that I haven't been able to say in all the Februarys past that I tried the RPM challenge.
I have two songs completely recorded.
I did the electric guitars, lead and rhythm, for both crappy number 1 and crappy number 2. I suppose now that they have lyrics they should probably get proper names, but I probably won't do that until I upload them to alonetone.
I could probably start working on the electric guitars for crappy number 3, but my finger tips are getting stubborn. It took many retakes to get the leads for crappy number 2 to a point where they sucked, but not so bad that I couldn't keep them.
Seven songs need guitars, and then I start my crappy mixing job.
Nine days and 57 minutes left.
Again... I said I wasn't going to do this, but here I am doing it again.
It came in handy yesterday when I was trying to listen to rough mixes while trying to write lyrics and I didn't have the mp3 files on my macbook.
So it was a good thing last time. It's pointless this time, but what can you do?
And that, friends, is pretty much all I've got.
I wanted them to go after Brad Richards. If he gets traded and then wins the cup for someone other than the Bruins I'm gonna be pissed.
Friday, February 18, 2011
Well... at least not since I stopped playing regularly. Lets say that today was the most successful RPM challenge day I've ever had.
There is a lead vocal on all 9 tracks, including the five sections of the crappy 10 minute suite type thingie.
As it stands right now, drums are done, bass is done, 6 string acoustic is done, 12 string acoustic is done, vocals are done.
It's going to redefine crap. The vocals suck, the acoustic guitars sound like shit, the bass is sloppy, and the drums are overly simple. The electric rhythm and lead guitar will probably be passable at best, mostly because that's what I actually do, ya know?
I could very well finish on time this year.
I could very well have an album's worth of crappy demo-quality recordings of crappy songs before March 1st.
Who woulda thunk?
Thursday, February 17, 2011
I have a theory.
For each of the three losses, radio announcer Dave Gaucher was away on a bereavement leave. His replacement was Ryan Johnston.
Ryan Johnston was the radio play by play announcer for the Lowell Lock Monsters and Lowell Devils on WCAP 980am in Lowell, MA. I find it an interesting coincidence that the play by play guy for a team that was often so pathetic they couldn't give their tickets away would be the announcer for the only three game losing streak of the Bruins season to this point.
Tonight, Dave Gaucher (am I spelling that right?) is back.
The Bruins have a 6-2 lead over the Islanders in the 2nd period.
Could it be that Ryan Johnston was the jinx that caused the otherwise good team known as the Boston Bruins to go into a three game suck mode?
I'm not saying he was the reason... I'm just saying it's an interesting coincidence. That's all.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
When I play bass I get the pain immediately and much worse and it lingers much longer.
And yet I manage to forget this every single year.
Crappy numbers 1,2, and 9 have final bass parts. They are all sloppy and bad and have mistakes, but that's all I have in me today.
Monday, February 14, 2011
It puts me over the 35 minute minimum. I can't decide if I want to start recording bass parts tomorrow or if I want to try and tempt fate with one more song. I want 10 songs, but I am leaning toward cutting myself off right here. What I really need to do is find my damn tuner. I tune the guitar with the Pod, but I don't want to run my bass through that thing at all. I have a little Boss chromatic tuner but it's buried somewhere.
Tentatively the plan for tomorrow is: Dig out the tuner. Start recording bass parts.
There, the decision has been made.
(for now... until I decide to change my mind, probably five minutes from now.)
We had a quiet, restful weekend together and it was beautiful. We basically bought each other Macintosh computers as Valentines gifts, and hung around the house telling each other how much we love each other and being silly and mushy and romantic.
It was pretty much perfect.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Saturday, February 12, 2011
This is my first post on my new Macintosh. I haven't been a Mac user since I finished school in 2004. I used to work in a computer science department lab, putting on a radio show of all things. My machine in the lab was a Mac. I think it was running OS9... I think. I seem to remember the first Mac OS that was written on top of Linux being released at about the time I graduated.
Now I've got one of my own.
Wish me luck.