Monday, December 31, 2012

Doctor visit today

We called the clinic first thing this morning and got an appointment at 11:30 with Dr. Bliss.  The first stop is always the scale and we learned that Marshall has lost almost 10 pounds in the past 6 days because he has had no appetite whatsoever.

The doctor took some x-rays and determined that the constipation is not being caused by any bowel obstruction.  It's just constipation caused by oxycodone.

So Marshall was given instructions to drink a half bottle of mag citrate (the stuff you get before a colonoscopy), drink a quart of water with it, and then 4 hours later do it again.  So he drank his first half-bottle with a bunch of water and now he's napping for a while.  Hopefully by tonight he'll be on his way to getting that problem settled and he can bring in the New Year on a brand new feel-good note.

Dr. Bliss said he would call this evening to see how things were "going" (pun intended).

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Tough weekend....

Marshall is feeling slightly better than he did on Friday, but still very constipated and just not feeling good.  Tomorrow we're going to call the doctor here in town and try to get an appointment.

On a humorous note, here's a picture of Marshall taken at Christmas with his "oxycodone face" and his Yoda Christmas hat!  It's actually kind of clever because I was taking his picture and you can see me in the mirror behind Marshall.  How about that?
Christmas in Arkansas - 2012

Friday, December 28, 2012

5th radiation treatment done; we are now home

Marshall was sick all night last night, it was an awful night for him. He was so sick that if there was any pain, he didn't notice it.

This morning we got the 5th and final radiation treatment out of the way. The radiation department gave him a "graduation ceremony" in the waiting room. He got a certificate, along with a small glittery pom-pom, and everyone in the waiting room applauded and cheered. Too bad he felt too awful to get a kick out of this little celebration.

We talked to the on-call doctor about the nausea, constipation and general "icky" feeling. He looked at Marshall and said, "You know, you really don't look well." Well, duh.....

He suggested Marshall be very aggressive with laxatives and if he continued to have problems we should make an appointment with our primary care doctor. We also have enough anti-nausea pills to last for several weeks.

After the treatment we went back to the hotel and he tried to get a nap in before we hit the road for home.

We got home around 2:00 and it was so great to see our "boys." Marshall took a nap -- it was nice for him to be in his own bed -- and now he's watching TV and trying to relax, but he just feels yukky. The good thing is he is not feeling any pain, so that is excellent news.

I think we are on an upswing now, so stay tuned.....

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

4th radiation treatment under his belt

This morning we were at the hospital at 8:00AM for the 4th radiation treatment. Afterwards we talked to the on-call doctor about the pain and we filled him in on how Marshall was dealing with the pain (oxycodone, then 2 hours later Tylenol, then 2 hours later oxycodone, etc.).

The doctor told us that the oxycodone we were using was basically Tylenol so we were overdoing the Tylenol. She suggested that we continue the same timing schedule but substitute Ibuprofen for Tylenol. So we've been doing that all day today and he has felt a bit better, although constipation is now setting in because of the oxycodone. He slept most of the day today, which I guess he really needed.

When I went to Walgreens to get the Ibuprofen I also picked up a cane to help him not only walk, but to help him get up easier from a sitting position.

Tomorrow is the last of the radiation treatments and then we finally head home. I don't think we'll be able to take the car home tomorrow (we left it at a friend's house here in Denver) if Marshall is still on the regular oxycodone because it is making him a bit drowsy. But we're coming back on January 3rd for his next PSA test and visit with the oncologist and we can always get it then.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Pain won't go away

We made it back to Denver and are now resting at the Springhill Suites across from the Hospital. The weather was great for the whole drive (although bitterly cold!), even though the midwest was hit with some bad weather. We stayed ahead of it.

However, Marshall's pain never let up. It was an AWFUL trip for Marshall. He couldn't get comfortable and was in extreme pain for the entire trip. It was heartbreaking for me because there was nothing I could do. We used the oxycodone every four hours and the Extra Strength Tylenol in between times. And it still didn't work. I was so glad to get to the hotel where he could get in a bed and maybe relieve some of the pain.

So far he is still in pain, but feeling slightly better. Tomorrow morning at 8:20 we go for the fourth radiation treatment and we will discuss this pain with the radiation oncologist and see what he says.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

On our way back to Colorado

Well, we are now heading back to Colorado for the last two radiation treatments. The Christmas trip to Arkansas was awesome for me, but misery for Marshall. He was in excruciating pain the whole time and was in bed a lot. It was awful.

However, I had a great visit with my family and Marshall had an hour or two here and there where he felt good enough to at least come out on the deck and look at the river going by.

The weather couldn't have been better and my brother and son-in-law had fun fishing (and we all had fun eating the fish!). Here are a few photos:

Me and Marshall on our deck (see my son-in-law fishing in the background):

Tricia peeking behind a tree:

My brother on the deck of our cottage:

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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas in Arkansas

It's been a tough few days here in Arkansas. Marshall has had lots of pain and we have tried to stay ahead of the pain but we haven't been as successful as we would like. I located the nearest hospital just in case we needed a trip to the emergency room.

This morning we had a great brunch down at the lodge and then Marshall came back to the cottage and took a nap. The women went to Mountain Home and did some shopping while the guys watched football and Marshall was able to stay up and watch the game.

Then we came back and we cooked a great meal. Marshall got up late in the evening feeling a little better. So far we have avoided the emergency room!!

Here is a picture I took from the deck of our cottage and a picture of our precious 2-year-old great-niece (doesn't she look like the Capital One baby?). This is a GREAT place. More pictures will follow later.

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Friday, December 21, 2012

3rd Radiation Treatment

I got to Denver last night and picked Marshall up at our friends, Jim and Char's house (we left the Prius at their house and we are taking the truck to Arkansas -- thank you, Jim and Char).

Marshall was barely functioning when I picked him up. He had been nauseous all day after the radiation treatment and extremely fatigued. By the time we got to the hotel we weren't sure we would be able to go to Arkansas.

But we hugged a lot and Marshall got a fairly good night's sleep. This morning we went for the third radiation treatment at 7:40AM and we made sure to get anti-nausea medication today.

So Marshall felt good enough to head out to Arkansas and we are now at a hotel in Salina, Kansas -- almost halfway to our destination -- and by the time we got settled in the room, Marshall could barely walk and he was having really bad pain down his right leg. And his knee kept giving out.

He tried Tylenol and it didn't work, so he took an oxycodone and after an hour he started feeling better. Tomorrow before we leave Salina we are going to find a Walmart or a Walgreens and get him a knee brace so that he has more stability and doesn't fall.

Tomorrow evening we should be all settled in our wonderful riverside deluxe cottage and relaxing in front of a Christmas tree that my sister brings every year. Our cottage sits right on the White River -- and here's a picture I took from their website. I'll have better pictures next week. This place is awesome and oh-so-relaxing.

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

2nd Radiation Treatment

I heard from Marshall after this morning's radiation treatment -- he still has pain and now there's a bad pain in his knee.  So we hope that in a week or so the pain lets up.

But one of the side effects of radiation -- fatigue -- has shown up, so Marshall is totally zonked and at the hotel napping.

I am on my way to Denver now.

Day Three - Radiation and Snow Storm

On Wednesday I had planned to be with Marshall for his first actual radiation treatment, but southern Colorado had one heck of a snowstorm and I couldn't even make it down our lane.  this picture is taken from the window of the truck when I tried to get out and realized I couldn't.

Snow - December 19
A wonderful friend of ours, Catherine, volunteered to be with Marshall on Wednesday.  She went over and was there for him when he went in to get treatment and then she waited until he was done and made sure all was well.  (Thank you, Catherine, from the bottom of our hearts.)

The first treatment was uneventful -- Marshall says it was sort of like getting an x-ray -- but no pain has been alleviated yet.  Marshall had spent Tuesday night with his nephew, but on Wednesday he got a hotel room for the rest of the week.  The hotel is directly across the street from the hospital and makes things a whole lot easier.  (Thank you, Kevin and Angie, for taking care of him.)

Today he gets another radiation treatment -- he'll be by himself, but he'll be okay since he now knows what to expect.   I am getting things together to drive up to Denver to be with him and spend the night.  Tomorrow morning his treatment is at 7:40AM and then we will hit the road for Arkansas for Christmas.  Hopefully the pain will start to lessen during this trip.

Our neighbor Dave came over yesterday and plowed our road so that I won't have any difficulties getting out. And his wife Cathy brought over some Christmas goodies.  (Thank you, Dave and Cathy!!)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Day Two - Setting the radiation plan

Marshall met with the radiation oncologist this morning at 9:00. They did the simulated CT scan and marked the spots on his body where the radiation will be directed. The simulated CT scan required him to lay on a flat table and be still for quite a while so he left there with back pain again that lasted all through the evening.

His first radiation treatment is tomorrow at 2:00 and I plan to drive up to Denver to be there with him. However, the weather man is predicting a lot of snow and low visibility for tomorrow, so we may have to change that plan tomorrow. I know he wants me there with him so I hope the weather cooperates.

He will have another treatment Thursday and another on Friday. We are going to try to schedule the one on Friday to be in the morning so we can head out for our trip to Arkansas right after the treatment. We will leave my truck in Denver and pick it up on our way back next week.

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Depressing day -- radiation starting quickly

Our appointment with Dr. Kavanaugh (radiation oncologist) was at 2:30 today. (By the way, Dr. Kavanaugh had an uncanny resemblance to Elvis Costello!)

The first thing he did was to put Marshall's recent bone scan and CT scan on the screen and pointed out the many many places in the bones where there was cancer. We already knew these lesions were there, but had never really studied the scans. That was totally depressing.

However, the doctor continued talking and we moved on.

The doctor basically said that rather than try to do radiation on a large number of lesions, the best approach is to radiate the spots causing pain and worry about other lesions whenever they cause pain. Also, it is possible that the hormone therapy and the bone strengthening treatment are also working to reduce tumors and he didn't want to do unnecessary radiation unless and until the day comes when the hormone therapy isn't doing the job.

So for now, we are concentrating on the painful area of the lower spine and the right hip. Dr. Kavanaugh said there are two approaches. One would be to do one very strong radiation treatment. The second would be to spread it out and do 3 to 5 less strong radiation treatments. He thought the second approach was the way to go and I don't know whether he sensed our anxiety level or not, but he made the offer that we could get started on the radiation this week and finish it out next week after the holidays.

So Marshall has an appointment tomorrow at 9:00 to have what they called a "simulated" CT scan to (1) pinpoint the spots needing radiation; and (2) create a "cradle" for Marshall that, in addition to little tattoos, will make sure that each treatment is in exactly the correct spot. Then he will begin the radiation on Wednesday.

Marshall will drive up by himself tomorrow and stay with his great-nephew Kevin, who lives very close to the hospital. Then I will drive up on Wednesday to be with him for the first radiation treatment. I'll come back Wednesday night -- can't stay up in Denver because we don't have anyone to watch our boys.

We are scheduled to drive to Arkansas this weekend. We thought we'd leave Friday but now it looks like it might be Saturday. But we still plan to make the trip unless there are unexpected side effects. We have rented a house on the White River and there is a special fishing expedition waiting for Marshall in Arkansas with my brother and my son-in-law!

I will update this each day as we go through this new journey of radiation.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A couple of easy days

Yesterday Marshall felt fairly good so we took advantage of that and ran errands and then went to Canon City to visit Marketplace Shops (where we have our booth).  We went to our favorite Chinese restaurant for a late lunch and then home.  By the time we got home he was starting to get tired.

Today we stayed close to home.  Marshall felt pretty good most of the day, but took some Tylenol a few minutes ago, so I think the pain was creeping in again.  But at least he isn't in that awful pain that he had earlier this week.

It's been pretty cold this week so we've been using the wood burning stove and staying nice and cozy.

Monday, December 10, 2012


Marshall talked to Dr. Flaig (oncologist) today and Dr. Flaig now believes that Marshall's pain is caused by the cancer in the lower spine messing with the nerves so he thinks it's time for radiation.

So on Monday (12/17) we have a consult with the Radiation Department at the University of Colorado to decide how many radiation treatments he will need. Dr. Flaig believes he will need from 2 to 5 treatments, but we should know more on Monday.

Dr. Flaig says that they have a very high success rate with radiation pinpointing and killing the targeted cancer in the bone which then also kills those nerves and thus stops the pain. Marshall will have to have a special contraption designed just for him to enable precise targeting of the radiation.

Because of the Christmas holiday, these treatments won't be scheduled until after Christmas, so until then Marshall is going to have to figure out how to manage the pain through the holiday as well as our trip to Arkansas for Christmas. The doctors keep telling him to stay ahead of the pain by taking the Tylenol or painkiller of choice before the pain gets really bad rather than waiting till the pain is unbearable before taking medication. We'll have to work on that.

Today was a downer.

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Sunday, December 9, 2012


Well, first, Marshall had two of those pain injections, one on Friday and one on Saturday, and he is feeling better.  So that is good news.  (Oops, I spoke too soon -- the pain is back. Tomorrow we need to call the oncologist....I feel so helpless).

On a calming note, here's what our road looks like today:
Our first snow of the winter!  This is the half-mile lane to our house.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Pain is always in the wings

Well, we will have several really good days and then Mr. Pain decides we've had enough good days.

So the past two days Marshall has been in a lot of pain and unable to do much of anything. Today he went back to his primary care doctor and got another one of those aspirin-like injections and now he's feeling better. He'll get another injection tomorrow.

The primary care doctor thinks the pain is cancer-related but when we brought this up to the oncologist last month he said that if it was cancer related, it would not go away that easy. So we're going with the oncologist's opinion.

It seems to me that if an anti-inflammatory quiets the pain down, then it must be inflammation causing the pain and not cancer. But at any rate, Marshall is feeling much better and that's good.

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Monday, December 3, 2012

Regular checkup with primary care physician

Today was Marshall's regularly scheduled visit to his primary care physician (he sees Dr. Bliss after every visit to the Cancer Center just to keep the doctor current on Marshall's care).

The oncologist had told us to ask Dr. Bliss about this weird skin pain that Marshall has on his abdomen that won't go away (I originally tried to blame it on a possible case of shingles, but that has been ruled out).  Dr. Bliss was at a loss but thought it could possibly be a diabetic neuropathy thing due to the diabetes.  He prescribed a topical treatment -- I think he said it was a steroid treatment --that Marshall needs to try for two weeks to see if it helps.  If it doesn't help, we will try something else.

Marshall's arthritis has been acting up more than usual, but that's another side effect of the hormone therapy treatment he's getting.

We've been getting a short walk in every morning and some stretching, so all in all, things are really good!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Marshall was a motorcycle reindeer

First of all, the crafts fair was a HUGE hit for me.  My sterling silver jewelry sold out each day of the fair and I had to stay up Thursday night and Friday night to make more jewelry to replenish my table.  I was so tickled.

And today Santa Claus came to Westcliffe on a fire truck.  And his reindeer were motorcyclists with antlers on and carrying stuffed animals.  They rode through town (which is about two blocks long) and then dropped Santa off at "All Aboard Westcliffe" where the kids joined him to get their picture taken and give him their wish lists.  I couldn't get any pictures of the ride through town because I was riding behind Marshall.

After Santa was dropped off to see the children, the "reindeer" rode down to the Assisted Living Center and we visited each resident and gave them a stuffed animal.  They weren't really expecting us and it was a little bizarre because about 10 motorcycles roared up to the front door of the Assisted Living Center and all of us (with our antlers on) walked into rooms and sang Jingle Bells and gave the resident a stuffed animal and said Merry Christmas and moved on...but they all seemed truly delighted to see us and get their stuffed animal.

I got pictures of the motorcycles gathering for the ride (below) but I didn't really get any pictures at the senior center except for Marshall with a 22-year-old toothless poodle that belonged to one of the residents, very cute.
Marshall and Santa

The "reindeer" getting ready -- that's me next to Santa.

The "reindeer" getting into place so that Santa and his Fire Truck can get behind them. 
Look at "Rudolph" with her red nose -- it even had blinking lights.
 There were only 2 trikes in the group and they got to ride in the rear, so Marshall is in the very back.

 And here comes Santa!!

Marshall with 22-year-old poodle at Assisted Living Center. 
They both look good for their age, don't they?  :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Crafts Fair and Pet Food Distribution

Our Schedule this week is really full. Thank goodness Marshall's back pain has let up. We have been taking a little walk every morning and doing some stretches to help strengthen his muscles. Also doing some balance exercises. Things are going good.

This week is the Custer County Library Crafts Fair so I have been busy making jewelry to get ready for the show. We set up on Thursday.

Then Friday is the pet food distribution at the Care & Share.

Saturday the crafts fair ends and we break it all down (and hopefully count our profits!).

Marshall has gotten back on Facebook (after being off of it for several years) and he's been having fun catching up on family and friends.

And now it's very late and time to call it a night....

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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving at Rainbow Lutheran Camp

On Thanksgiving, Marshall still had some back pain but it had let up quite a bit so a few Tylenol was all he needed to get up and around and we headed out to the Rainbow Lutheran Camp for Thanksgiving dinner.  This camp is set way out in the woods in a gorgeous building with breathtaking views and every year they prepare a Thanksgiving dinner for close to 200 people at no charge.  They have a donation basket for people who can afford to donate.

The Lutheran Camp volunteers work all Wednesday night to prepare a full Thanksgiving meal (turkey, dressing, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, rolls, ham, yams and pumpkin pie).  And when the meal is over, everyone gets to pile up with leftovers to take home with them.  We've gone there for the past four years and it has become a tradition for us.

Here are some pictures to show you what an idyllic setting this is.  This has been a tough year but we have a lot to be thankful for.  We hope that all of you also had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Entrance to Rainbow Trail Lutheran Camp

Cabins at Lutheran Camp

Pavilion at Lutheran Camp
Dining Hall -- 30 minutes after I took this picture, every table was filled.
We arrived pretty early and Marshall met a guy from Virginia who
also used to be a truck driver -- they were swapping stories.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

PSA stayed the same

Well, the PSA today was 10.22 (last time it was 10.01). So basically it didn't move. Dr. Flaig said he was very pleased with that result. Marshall has only been on the Casodex for a month so Dr. Flaig said the fact that the PSA held steady and didn't go up is very encouraging for the continuing success of the Casodex. So while it was a bit disappointing to not see it go down, we still felt pretty good.

All of the other lab work looked good.

When we left the house this morning, Marshall had some back pain which got worse and worse as the day went on. By the time we got to the hospital, the pain was pretty excruciating. Dr. Flaig went over him and asked a bunch of questions and said he felt positive that the pain was not cancer related, it was simply back pain. So Marshall is on painkillers to try to control it.

Marshall asked if it could be related to inactivity and Dr. Flaig said it was possible, so they discussed a light exercise routine. He said Marshall could do some slow walking and he could do stretches, but absolutely nothing strenuous.

We also asked Dr. Flaig if the other weird pains Marshall has been having could be shingles and he said no.

After we left Dr. Flaig, Marshall got another Xgeva shot (bone strengthener) and we were done for the day. Next appointment is January 3rd.

And by the way, the traffic coming from Denver to Westcliffe was an absolute KILLER. I guess people left work early to get on the road for Thanksgiving. It was bumper to bumper for miles and miles. But we are home and we wish you all a wonderful and warm Thanksgiving.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tomorrow is next visit to Cancer Center

Tomorrow we go up to Anschutz for lab work (PSA test), Xgeva injection (bone strengthener) and visit with Dr. Flaig (oncologist).

Please pray for the PSA to have gone down demonstrably!

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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Relocated the motorcycle

Even though we bought this beautiful enclosed trailer to haul the bike off of our mountain to get to a spot where it can be unloaded in order to take a ride, this became more of an ordeal than we anticipated, and also made it hard to take a spontaneous ride on a beautiful day.

So today we rented a storage unit in town with electricity, heat, running water, and a bathroom (believe it or not -- how perfect is that!) and we took the bike down there and got it in the unit.  Now if a winter day dawns unusually beautiful and warm, Marshall can just drive into town and get the bike out within 20 minutes rather than the hour it was taking with the trailer.

The trailer will still be invaluable for hauling the bike to shows, but using it for a spur-of-the-moment ride just wasn't working.

He's still not feeling great and today was exhausting for him, so he is now resting.  But if the weather tomorrow is as awesome as it is today, he is looking forward to a nice ride tomorrow.  He is meeting a friend in Pueblo for lunch and hopefully he can ride the bike.

I signed up for a crafts fair at the end of November and I need to get busy making jewelry, so while he's out gallivanting on the bike, I can crank up the music and be creative (:-)  

PS:  Here's some interesting background on the storage unit we rented:  the prior "resident" of this unit was a taxidermist who did not believe in using chemicals, so he used beetles to "clean up" the animals (I think I understood this correctly).  This unit is where that "cleaning" was done.  Gross.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Could it be shingles?

Last night I posted a message on the "For Ladies Only" prostate cancer forum listing some of the weird symptoms and pains Marshall has been experiencing. I got four responses saying it sounded like shingles.

So I spent the night consulting with "Dr. Google," and I learned that it is possible to get shingles without getting a rash (and that is called zoster sine herpete). We are pretty sure that Marshall got the shingles vaccination last year, so I checked with "Dr. Google" on that and he said that if you get the vaccination, it is still possible to get a milder version of shingles. So far so good since if Marshall is getting shingles, it is definitely a milder version.

Shingles tends to show up during times of stress, and I think we can safely list cancer as a top cause of stress.

So then I checked symptoms of zoster sine herpete and here are the ones Marshall is experiencing:
pain on one side of the body that affects the spinal nerves
weird skin pain on right side of abdomen (tingling, sensitive to touch, burning)
stabbing pains in abdomen on right side (Marshall's are intermittent)
vertigo (the lightheadedness in the car Wednesday??)
loss of appetite
feeling dizzy or weak

So we are feeling way more comfortable that what is happening right now is not cancer-related, but we will check with the oncologist on Wednesday. Shingles isn't fun -- I had shingles about 28 years ago and I still remember the excruciating pain -- but better shingles pain than cancer pain!

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Lightheaded -- while driving !!!

We went to Pueblo today to get Marshall's iPhone set up and we stopped to get the mail before leaving Westcliffe. There was a magazine in the mail and I was reading it as we were heading out of town.

All of a sudden I realized Marshall was veering off of the road at a very strange spot. I looked at him and said, "What's going on?" And he said, "I don't know." He said he had gotten very lightheaded and didn't know why. So he pulled off the road (thank goodness he was able to do that). That was kind of scary. I drove the rest of the way to Pueblo and by the time we went just a few miles, he was feeling better. So now we have another question on our list for the oncologist -- does cancer cause lightheadedness?

He's also had a very weird tender/sensitive spot on his abdomen for no apparent reason. And it doesn't go away. Another question on our list.

But the rest of the day was fun. He got his phone set up and we went to lunch. I got to piddle around in Hobby Lobby while he sat in the car figuring out all the cool stuff his new phone can do. And then we came home.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A bit of pain in back and ribs

We spent yesterday at Eskridge Veterinarian Clinic in Canon City selling low-cost spay/neuter vouchers.  We were there three hours and only sold 6 vouchers, so that was disappointing.  We need to figure out better ways to get the word out.

Anyway, Marshall's back was hurting a bit so when we got home he rested the remainder of the evening.  This morning when he got up, he also had rib pain on the right side.  So he took some Tylenol and rested.  We went to town around noon to have lunch and pick up the mail and now we are back home again.

I did a little internet researching on some of the cancer forums and found a guy who had intermittent rib pain because he carried a trash can up a flight of stairs and since the muscles are so weak (because of the cancer and the hormone therapy), they pulled against the bones of the ribs and caused pain.  He said his pain lasted three days.  That kind of fit Marshall's situation since he did help carry the table and chairs we used yesterday at the clinic.

So we take it one day at a time.....

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Delightfully boring

I hope we keep being this boring. Marshall continues to feel good and has a good energy level. We've been running around doing all the things we normally do and it continues to be wonderful.

Tomorrow we are going to Canon City to sell low-cost spay/neuter vouchers at a veterinarian's office. The group we volunteer with -- Pet Project -- is big on promoting spaying and neutering.

Tuesday we will probably go to Pueblo for the day.

And I think winter has arrived. The temperatures for the next few days are going to be in the 20s.

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Sunday, November 4, 2012

5 days of feeling good

Marshall has been feeling really good the past five days, the various side effects died down and his energy level picked up. So we have spent the past five days running around doing "normal" things (going to breakfast, shopping in Pueblo, lunch with friends, errands, etc.)

He hasn't smoked since mid-September when the CT scan showed spots on the lungs. I am so proud of him ... and so relieved.

Marshall's grandson, TJ, is doing his paperwork to go into the Navy. That's kind of scary to me, but he really wants to do it. Here's a photo of him at his graduation with his mom (Tanya) and his brother (Brandon). The lady in the background is Marshall's ex-wife Charlene. (Catherine, if you are reading this, hasn't Brandon grown since that day 8 years ago when he wanted to be your boyfriend??)

And since I've posted a photo of TJ and Brandon, I should also include the granddaughter Alexis (she is going to be a real heartbreaker). This is a prom picture.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Still experiencing some side effects

Yesterday, Marshall was still experiencing fatigue and hot flashes. We went to town to get the motorcycle (we left it at a friend's business in town when we got back last week until we could secure it in the trailer good enough to endure the several miles of extreme "washboard" road leading to our house). So yesterday, Marshall and his friend Pat attached some 2x4's in the trailer so that the trike wouldn't move around in the trailer on the ride home. We went to lunch and then came home, unloaded the trike, and then Marshall rested.

Today he had an appointment with the ophthalmologist in Canon City and by the time we got home he was having pain and discomfort in his legs. A few Tylenol seemed to settle it down a bit but not enough to really do anything.

He's been keeping in touch with his daughter Tanya (in Richmond, Virginia) and while she was totally prepared for the possible problems of Hurricane Sandy (she had food, water and flashlights), Virginia only suffered high winds and minimal power outages. So she and the grandkids weathered it okay.

Tomorrow he has an appointment to get a haircut. He hasn't had to do that in many years. It will be a novel experience.

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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Side effects of Lupron injection

Well, those pesky side effects have shown up again after getting the Lupron injection on Thursday. Marshall has been having a lot of pain at the injection site, but each day it lessens.

And the fatigue came back. He had been feeling so much more energetic lately but the injection brought all the fatigue back. He says his legs feel like dead weights.

It's not as bad as it's been in the past, though, so that's a plus. Hopefully the fatigue will disappear quickly.

Other than that, he feels really good.

On Friday, we were at Care & Share for several hours to pass out pet food and he held up really well. Then last night we went to a neighbor's 50th anniversary party and had a really nice time. Today has been a laid back day.

Marshall's daughter lives in Richmond, Virginia, and we are anxiously watching Hurricane Sandy's path.

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Another cancer treatment under our belt

We left around 10:00 this morning and drove up to the Anschutz Cancer Center. The snow had stopped so we got up there without any weather issues.

We saw the nurse and all of Marshall's vitals checked out fine.

Then we had a brief visit with Dr. Flaig. We asked him to go over the bone scan and CT scan results with us again because we were a little confused about the purpose of the CT scan. He said that the CT scan was to check the soft tissues and the bone scan was to check the lesions in the bones. And the CT scan showed a few small nodules in the lungs which the radiologist indicated was probably related to smoking. We need to monitor those as we go along. (Marshall has now quit smoking!!)

He said the bone scan showed no change from the previous scan that was taken in April.

So Dr. Flaig said the bone scan is the more important test. And we are all happy that there was no change.

We also talked to Dr. Flaig about Marshall's pain issue last week. He said that since the injection of an anti-inflammatory got rid of the pain, he believed it has to be caused by something like a pulled muscle.  He said that if that had been cancer pain, it would not have gone away like that.  So that was good.

Marshall then got a flu shot and his Lupron injection. Then we went up to the lab and he got his Xgeva (bone strengthener) injection.

We left there around 5:00 and by then it was snowing and we went through some flurries on the way home. The roads have been opened again at the forest fire area and the fire is now 65 percent contained. Fourteen homes were destroyed. At least the wind died down and it snowed a little and both of those things helped with getting the fire under control.

We go back on November 21st for another Xgeva injection and a PSA test so we can see if the Casodex is doing what it is supposed to be doing.

Marshall has been feeling really good, his energy levels have been up and his frame of mind has been positive. Yay!

Tomorrow is pet food distribution day at the Care & Share Center.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wildfires and Snow

Tomorrow we head up to the University for Marshall's next treatment.  We'll have to take a detour to get out of here because the fire at Wetmore still has the roads closed.  It is now up to 1200 acres and 14 homes have burned.  They have evacuated the entire town of Wetmore and the fire is still not contained.  I sure hope they get it under control, it's so sad.

They predictions of snow for tomorrow are now calling for one to five inches.  We will be taking the truck with the 4-wheel drive just in case.

One of my friends here in Westcliffe -- only about 63 or 64 years old -- died yesterday in her sleep.  That is such a shock.  I still can't believe it.  My prayers go out to her family, both here and back in St. Louis.

And here is a picture of Marshall and two of the boys relaxing in their La-Z-Boy.  And Marshall's hair continues to grow....

Marshall, Okie and Coco

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Busy Day

Today we drove up to Colorado Springs to pick the motorcycle up -- and it appears that the satellite radio might actually be fixed this time. It will take a few more rides to be sure.

The weather was a little cold in the morning but it warmed up during the day, and Marshall felt good all day long!

On the way home, as we approached Wetmore, the road was closed because of a wildfire, so we had to backtrack and go another route about 20 miles out of our way. The fire is about 30 miles from our house and when we got home (finally) we checked the news and the fire has already burned about 800 acres. They are evacuating people and several structures have been destroyed. Don't know the cause of the fire yet. But it was incredibly windy today which doesn't help in fighting the fire.

Tomorrow should be a quiet day and then Thursday we head up to the University, hopefully in dry ... not snowy ... weather.

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Feeling Much Better

Good news. Marshall felt better and better all day Sunday and this morning (Monday) was better yet. He did not need any pain medication today.

As a matter of fact, we went to Pueblo to run errands and had a very nice day together.

Monday night I got on one of my favorite prostate cancer forums, For Ladies Only, and asked about Casodex side effects. Four out of 10 women reported back to me that when their husbands were on Casodex it threw their arthritis into overdrive, so it just seems to me that since the anti-inflammatory injections took the pain away (while the oxycodone didn't), the pain had to be joint inflammation pain (arthritis) as a result of the Casodex. That sounds reasonable, doesn't it? Don't you love the way I am forming medical opinions?

I'm writing this in the wee hours of the morning because it is so windy here in our mountains that it sounds like a hurricane outside. My dachshund, Coco, is terrified and is clinging to me, so since I'm awake and listening to the howling, as well as the deck furniture flying around, I might as well be on the computer.

Tomorrow (Tuesday), we are going to run more errands. Marshall's motorcycle is back at Harley to try to get the darn satellite radio to work and we are going to go up and get the bike and bring it home before the snow hits, which is supposed to happen on Thursday. And Thursday is also our next appointment up at the University Hospital for Marshall's next Lupron injection and Xgeva injection. Should be a fun trip.

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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Another injection, pain lessening

Today we went back to the doctor and Marshall got another injection of the anti-inflammation drug. He feels much better than he did a few days ago. Since tomorrow is Sunday and the clinic isn't open, we can't get him another injection, so by Monday the injection will have worn off and we'll know if this pain has died down. If we need another injection, we can go back in on Monday as well.

After we went to the clinic today we went out to breakfast, so he was definitely feeling better. :)

I have been doing tons and tons of internet searches these past few days and even though Dr. Flaig didn't think this back pain could be related to the Casodex, I found case after case of back pain being a side effect of Casodex. So we will talk to Dr. Flaig about that when we see him on Thursday.

On a different note, Marshall's West Virginia Mountaineers lost today and my St. Louis Cardinals are still in the playoffs for the National League Championship.

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Friday, October 19, 2012

Emergency doctor visit today

I heard from Dr. Flaig early this morning and he said that the back pain Marshall was experiencing was not what he would consider a normal side effect of the Casodex.  He suggested that we see our primary care physician.

I called the clinic first this morning and they scheduled Marshall for 10:40.  When we got there and they asked him to rate the pain he was feeling, he said, "Three times the highest number."  The doctor talked to him for a while and then sent him back for x-rays of the spine.

Then he showed us the x-rays and pointed out some cancer-related issues in the spine, some black spots that showed where the cancer was, things we already knew.  However, he didn't see anything that could cause pain.  He said the spine was in perfect alignment and looked normal.  So he guessed that there is a hairline fracture in the spine that isn't visible.

Marshall didn't want to take any more oxycodone, so Dr. Mohr ordered an injection of something that he said was "like aspirin."  He said it wasn't a narcotic and therefore didn't have the side effects of a narcotic, but that it helped most people with pain.  Marshall got one of those injections today and if he needs it he can go back every day (but Sunday) for another injection up until Thursday, the 25th, which is when we go back to the University Hospital for his next treatment of Lupron and Xgeva.

We will have questions for Dr. Flaig about how we treat a possible hairline fracture and whether or not the Xgeva (bone strengthener) will help in that regard.

As I am writing this, Marshall is still in pain but is feeling better.  We're both tired.  I predict it will be an early night.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Painful side effects of Casodex

Well, first of all, Google was nice enough to give me my blog back.  I have no idea what was going on, and I was never allowed to talk to an actual person, but the "Google robots" finally conceded that I was not perpetrating any fraudulent activity with this blog.

Now back to Marshall.  After the slight back pain on Friday from the first Casodex pill, Marshall felt pretty good on Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.  It was looking as though the Casodex was going to be a breeze.

But yesterday he had more back pain that built up a little during the day.  He took some Tylenol and it died down.  This morning when he got up he felt better but within 30 minutes the pain returned and steadily built up all day.  By mid-afternoon, the pain was a bit more than he could take, so he took an oxycodone.  That helped for about 2-1/2 hours.  Then the pain started spreading to his joints and he could barely get up out of a chair.  He held out until 10:00PM, took another pain pill and went to bed.

He is sure that this isn't bone pain, it is more muscle and joint pain.  I did a little bit of research on the internet (and plan to do more in a little bit) and learned that this kind of pain is a side effect of Casodex in about 30% of men who take it.  So far I haven't been able to learn how long these side effects last, but I will keep looking.  He won't be able to "tough this out" much longer.  And next Thursday he gets his next Lupron (hormone therapy) injection and Xgeva (bone strengthener) injection which will have their own temporary side effects.

I have a message in to the oncologist and hope to hear from him tomorrow with some advice.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Side effects of Casodex

Marshall's first Casodex pill was yesterday morning.  By last night he was feeling some very general low back pain.  Then the hot flashes set in with a vengeance.  And he had to get up to go to the bathroom every single hour.  So between the hot flashes and the bathroom trips, he got almost no sleep at all.  Today he was dragging.

I did a little research and all of these things are recognized non-threatening side effects of Casodex.  So we hope they tone down a little each day.  I also read that in some cases, the Casodex can cause liver damage, so there will be liver function tests in his future.

On Monday he will start taking the weekly large doses of Vitamin D2.  I just looked it up and there are no side effects.  Nice.

He was tired today but he was looking forward to the West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Texas Tech game.  Well, first of all, it wasn't broadcast in our area.  And, second, West Virginia lost badly.  Bummer.

On the other hand, my St. Louis Cardinals are kicking butt.  They have moved on to the playoffs for the National League Championship.  First game in that series is tomorrow night.

Dr. Flaig (the oncologist) posted the results of the hip x-rays on our personal hospital website today (these x-rays were taken on our way out of the hospital on Thursday) and I am happy to report that the doctor's note at the top reads: "Xrays of the legs looked OK without signs for serious bone involvement. T Flaig."  Yay!!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

One more thing on bone scan...

I forgot one thing in my report of the past two days' activities.

Dr. Flaig said that the bone scan showed a small spot on the lungs.  He said it did not concern him but that we would keep an eye on it.

Doctor visit and test results

Last night we had a great dinner with Kevin and Angie at Ruby Tuesdays.  Good food, good company.  Got back to hotel around 9:00 and relaxed.

This morning we got to the Anschutz Cancer Center at 9:30 and went straight to the lab for the blood draw.  Then we saw the doctor at 10:30.

The last few visits we've seen what it's like to be at a teaching hospital.  Last time -- in September -- we spent lots of time with a resident (Dr. Huo) and much less time with Dr. Flaig.  That was confusing because we didn't expect it so we didn't get the answers to questions we wanted (although we sent Dr. Flaig an email and he responded quickly).

So today we saw a Fellow (Dr. Sumey) and we were prepared to ask questions of both Dr. Sumey and Dr. Flaig and that part of the visit went smoothly this time.  Dr. Sumey addressed our questions and concerns for quite a while and then Dr. Flaig came in to talk about test results.  I will see if I can correctly relay what Dr. Flaig said.

He said the bone scan showed little or no change from the bone scan that was done back in April when Marshall was initially diagnosed.  That disappointed Marshall, but Dr. Flaig said he was pleased.  He said the CT scan showed slightly more activity in the hip area than previously.  And he asked how Marshall was feeling, whether there was any pain, etc.  Marshall told him that he hasn't had any pain to speak of and had a bit more energy than back in August and September, and he still had hot flashes.

So Dr. Flaig said that, first of all, in his opinion, the bone scan "trumps" the CT scan and since the bone scan showed no real change, he considered that a good thing.  And then when you take the bone scan along with the fact that Marshall has been feeling pretty good, he thought that indicated things were going along pretty good.  However, he thought Marshall should also get an x-ray today just to have one more comparison done at the same time as the other tests.  (We stopped at Radiology on our way out and Marshall had that x-ray done and we'll get that result tomorrow).

Then he told us that the PSA went up to 10.01.  That was disappointing, but Dr. Flaig said not to be disheartened.  He has added a new drug to the mix -- Casodex.  Casodex is a testosterone blocker.  Marshall will be taking a Casodex pill every day for the near future.  It is supposed to create a block that will stop testosterone from feeding the cancer.  So we will now be watching the testosterone level as well as the PSA level.  He said that after a certain period of time on Casodex, if it drives the PSA level down the way he expects, he will stop the Casodex and see how things go.  He told us about several patients who took the Casodex along with the Lupron and then stopped the Casodex when the PSA level got down to undetectable and those patients then went on to enjoy several years of "remission."  So that is our plan going forward.

Next, we talked about Marshall's dangerously low Vitamin D level.  Marshall had been taking Citracal and Dr. Flaig said Marshall should continue on that.  But he added another drug that will give a megadose of Vitamin D (50,000 Intl Units in one pill).  Marshall will take one of those every week for 12 weeks and we will measure the Vitamin D levels again.

So we left there feeling pretty good.  And Marshall's frame of mind stayed good.  He had one or two instances of the "demons" showing up.  But Marshall has a technique of forcing the demon in a box and when the demon closes the lid, Marshall moves on feeling better.

On the way home, we stopped at Harley to see if his motorcycle was ready (he had taken it in last week for its 5,000-mile tuneup and to try to get the satellite radio fixed).  The bike was ready so he got to ride it home and that was a good end to the day.  The satellite radio problem turned out to not be fixed so that will be another battleBut we are now home and all in all, it was a good day.  We go back on October 25 for his next Lupron shot and his next Xgeva shot.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Tests are done

We got up here today early enough to have a quick lunch and then arrive at the Radiology Department around noon.  They gave Marshall a liquid contrast to drink (for the CT scan) and they injected a contrast (for the bone scan).

The CT scan (which was of the hip area) was at 1:00.  The full body bone scan was at 2:20 and lasted about 40 minutes.  Then we checked in to our hotel.

Marshall has kept his good frame of mind all day today.  And he hasn't experienced much pain at all in quite a while, except for occasional twinges and a bad case of Restless Leg Syndrome that seems to hit every night.  And the hot flashes -- which had dropped off for a long while -- now seem to be coming back.

Tonight his nephew Kevin (and Kevin's fiance Angie) are coming by to go to dinner with us, which will be a nice diversion.

Tomorrow morning we need to be back at the hospital at 9:30 for the lab work (PSA test) and then we see the doctor at 10:30 to get all the results.

Our thanks to Dave and Cathy for watching our "kids" for us.  It is so much less stressful knowing the boys are in good hands.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tomorrow is "test" day

Tomorrow morning we leave early to head up to the University Hospital for several hours worth of tests (CT, bone scan) to see where things stand in comparison to the tests done in March/April.  We will be spending the night at a nearby hotel and then Thursday morning we go in for lab work (another PSA test) and then we see the oncologist for the results of all the tests.

Marshall was in a really good frame of mind today and is going to try to maintain that outlook through the next two days!  (But Donna, we will have your number with us in case he needs to talk....)

Send good thoughts our way -- I will report back on Friday.

And here is a link to a really good article that was in the USA Today on October 1st titled "Men Have More Options In Prostate Cancer Treatments."  It tells the story of a man who is in his 23rd year of fighting advanced prostate cancer and describes all of the new and successful treatments that are available today.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Home Safe and Sound

Well, it was a great trip.  Marshall just got back home this evening.  He had an absolutely wonderful time riding the trike both to and from Ft Walton Beach and he had little or no pain throughout the entire trip.  We both had a wonderful time (although I could have done without the palmetto bugs -- they are huge and scary).  Here are some pictures:

Marshall and his bike had a constant flow of admirers!

Another photo of the inside of a modern gunship.

A group picture taken in front of the gunship.

Memorial service at Hurlburt AFB remembering those who did not return from Viet Nam.

The official photographer for Hurlburt AFB came to the hotel and took pictures of the motorcycle and enlarged two of them into huge posters which were presented to Marshall at the Meet-and-Greet Friday night.  These are awesome!

This is the second poster which is a collage of all of the parts of the bike.

Sunset from our balcony.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Lightning in the Mountains

The day before I got home, there was a big lightning storm and -- once again -- our wireless router was fried. So we are waiting for a new one. I will update the blog in a few days when we are "connected" again. At least it doesn't look like any other household electronics got hit...

Marshall should be home in a few days. He has had to go through a lot of rain since leaving Ft Walton Beach and he's taking it slow.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday - Reunion Activities

Today we were up at dark-thirty so that we could get breakfast before our excursion to Hurlburt Air Force Base so that we could visit with today's version of the 18th SOS Squadron. The young men who "volunteered" to babysit us today were awesome. They sent two Air Force buses over to the hotel to pick us up and take us to the base.
They had set up a room where they could brief our guys on some of the new and exciting things going on with the latest aircraft and fire power. Next, they transported us over to the flight line where they had a C130 gunship ready for us to board and inspect and had personnel there to answer questions. You will see Marshall standing next to a REAL Gatling Gun.

After that, we watched an awesome historical video that they had taken several months to put together. Then they had a Q&A session and answered all questions our guys had.
When the Q&A was finished, they took us out to the patio where they prepared lunch for us (hot dogs, chips, soda and beer) and then we were transported to a park where lots of planes were on display. We had a short memorial for those who did not make it back from Viet Nam.
After being out in this heat all morning, we were all ready to get on the air conditioned buses and come back to the hotel.
Back at the hotel, the photographer from the base stopped by to take photos of Marshall's bike. And it's been great to see all the guys attending the reunion oohing and aahing over the bike and taking pictures of it.

Now a short rest before tonight's Meet & Greet.
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Thursday, September 27, 2012

MD Anderson Cancer Center -- Moon Shot

If you haven't seen it in the news, the largest cancer center in the United States -- MD Anderson -- has announced what they call their "Moon Shots" program, an all out war against cancer and a commitment to cure cancer in this next decade.  They are anticipating huge progress by the year 2014.

Check it out:  http://cancermoonshots.org/

Enjoying Florida

We have been having a great time. Last night I saw on the balcony for hours enjoying the ocean and the waves. And as you know, Marshall was down at the Hootch with his buddies, some cigars and Crown Royal, doing toasts.

Well, around midnight (I think), there was a knock on the door and when I opened it, I found Marshall being delivered to the door by two of his buddies. They were definitely "toasted."

Today has been laid back, more ocean time, lunch at Angler's, right on the water (see photos of us in front of restaurant).

And I forgot to mention that we rented a 2013 bright red Mustang. What a car. It's awesome and such fun to drive. But it's a 2-door and I truly don't think we could get anybody in the back seat if we tried. And it sits very low to the ground, so getting into the car is slow going. But still, it is FUN TO DRIVE!

Marshall's back is hurting a bit today, so he's going to take some Tylenol and rest a bit. Tomorrow is the official beginning of the military reunion, so there will be lots of activities.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Life is a "Beach"

We are relaxing in Florida. The ocean is so soothing and seeing this scene from our balcony is pretty darn nice.

Today the reunion group started to arrive and we spent some fun time "meeting and greeting" in the Hootch. I got a lot of my souvenir buying out of the way and then sat on the balcony watching the water with a glass of merlot. We have an end unit where there is always a beautiful breeze.

Marshall is down at the Hootch right now having his annual "cigar and Crown Royal" toast with the guys. I didn't even know he had that tradition until today. I learned something. From the size of the Crown Royal bottle, I think there just might be more than a toast involved!!!

Marshall has felt really good, and his Harley is getting a lot of positive attention. The hotel even asked if they could photograph it for their web page. I'll let you know if that happens.

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Marshall is in Fort Walton Beach, waiting for me...

He made it to Fort Walton Beach last night and got all settled in for a good night's rest.  He had a slight back pain but he thinks it's a muscle pain and not a bone pain.  I think anybody's muscles would be screaming a little after a 1400-mile ride on a motorcycle!

Today some of the men will start trickling in for the military reunion, so Marshall will be visiting and catching up with buddies.  They set up a room called the Hootch as a main gathering place throughout the reunion where there are refreshments, snacks, photos, t-shirts for sale, information about the events of the reunion, etc.

I am heading up to Denver today to get a hotel room near the airport and my flight to Florida leaves at 8:00 tomorrow morning.

I will post pictures if I can figure out how to upload pictures from the iPad to the internet (so far that ability has eluded me).  But for now, here's a picture of the hotel.  Our room will be one of the end rooms with the large balcony.  It is heavenly.

Sheraton Four Points

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Marshall is in Vicksburg, Mississippi

Marshall stopped for the night in Vicksburg, Mississippi.  He is really enjoying this trip and he has been pain-free.

People are still surrounding the trike everywhere he stops, taking pictures, etc.

And the big news story of today was an announcement by MD Anderson, the cancer center, that they are pulling out all stops to find a cure for several different cancers (advanced prostate cancer is one of them) within this decade, and to have better life-extending treatments in place by 2014.  They are calling it their "moon shot" program.  That is very exciting news.  I am anxious to hear more.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Marshall has made it to Dallas -- feeling good!

Day Two of Bike Ride to Ft. Walton Beach, Florida:  Marshall has made it to Dallas and is enjoying the heck out of his trip.  He has been pain free and having a blast.  The bike has been drawing attention and he's been passing out his Prostate Cancer Awareness brochures. 

And we "video" talk every night using FaceTime on our iPads, which is really cool.  We get to see each other and Marshall also gets to see Marlee, Coco and Okie.  It is a great feature of the iPad.

I met up with my friend Janel today and we went over to Canon City to visit the shop where we have a booth.  Things are going well there.  Then we went to lunch and then back home.

Now, back to my health issues for hopefully the last time.  Dr. Hickson had told me to massage the gland, especially when eating.  Last night after a little dinner I was massaging the gland when all heck broke loose in my mouth.  Scared the daylights out of me.  It felt like a volcano eruption (ha) and caused choking.  Then it was over.

I called Dr. Hickson this morning first thing and she said, "Well, I think you cured yourself." And I think I agree. She said that whatever was blocking the duct coming from the gland must have finally broken free.   I haven't had any pain or swelling today at all, even while eating.  So I am a very happy person today.  I kept the appointment on the books for the dilation procedure on October 18th just in case, but I believe I will be canceling it when the time comes. 

All in all, this has been a really good day!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

My appointment with ENT doctor

First, Marshall got off on his trip to Florida around 9:00 this morning and he is having a great time.  Every time he stops, he is surrounded by people admiring his bike, wanting to talk about it and taking pictures of it.  Very cool.  He stopped for the night near Amarillo, Texas.

After he left, I went to my new ENT doctor.  She says it is definitely a problem with the submandibular salivary gland.  She does not think there is a stone and she does not think the lymph nodes surrounding the gland are malignant.  But she does think that perhaps the salivary gland needs to be removed.  The side effects are a little scary (damage to a facial nerve causing numbness, damage to some large blood vessels, etc.), so she said she could try something else first.  She says she can dilate the duct that enters the gland and see if that releases some of the pressure and might resolve everything.  She also suggested massaging the gland at meals and drinking tons of water every day and applying a hot compress several times a day.  I go back on October 18th for the dilation procedure.  Ugh.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Getting ready for Florida

Today we ran around and did all the little things to get ready for Florida trip.  Took the trike to Harley for its 1000-mile checkup and then came home and started packing up for Marshall to leave tomorrow morning.

His back pain went away and he developed pain in the center of his chest that got progressively worse all day.  We are assuming that pain is also associated with the Xgeva injection. Took more Tylenol and the pain lessened.  Hopefully, tomorrow will be pain-free.

Dr. Flaig's nurse finally returned my call today, so I feel better about that.  Marshall now has his next appointments all set up on October 10 (for CT scan and full-body bone scan) and on October 11 for another PSA test and then an appointment with Dr. Flaig to get results of all the tests.  Another stressful two days.  But in the meantime, we have Florida!
Not to grasp at straws, but Marshall has had a hiatal hernia for years and tonight I did some research on hernias.  (Today, he had chest pain -- center of the chest -- and he was nauseous, hoarse, had hiccups, and no appetite).  Every one of these symptoms falls under hiatal hernia, for whatever it's worth.....

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Side effects of Xgeva injection

Marshall had a wonderful trip to Albuquerque and back.  He really enjoyed himself.  He needed that after the rough doctor visit on Thursday.  The psa rise was kind of depressing.

But over the weekend he started developing a little back pain that got worse as time went on and by yesterday it was really bothering him.  I sent the oncologist an email, but he has not responded, and neither has his nurse.  Not happy about that.

So I got online and into a few Message Boards and learned that quite a few men have back pain and some bone pain for the first week after an Xgeva injection.  That was reassuring.  They recommended Motrin or Tylenol or another painkiller, so Marshall took a few Extra Strength Tylenol and in a half hour he was feeling less pain.

Then tonight Marshall was nauseous.  Back to the Message Boards (or, as Tricia would say, back to "Dr. Google").  Nausea is another side effect of the Xgeva injection.  Hopefully this will all die down by the time he leaves on Thursday for his trip to Florida!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Marshall took off on his Harley for weekend

Yesterday Marshall woke up in a better frame of mind and decided we would go on our Florida trip (his annual military reunion), so we will schedule the next set of tests for early October.  Marshall even said that this little "setback" may have been a good thing because it is spurring him on to spend more time on things he wants to do (and actually doing them) rather than dwelling on the unknown.

So yesterday we took a long ride on the Harley, had a nice lunch, and came home.  And this morning he headed out to Albuquerque.  It's only about 350 miles away and he wants to see if he can manage 350 miles in a day so he can build his stamina a bit before he heads out to Florida on the Harley.  He had this bike painted to honor his time in Viet Nam and all of his buddies that come to the reunion are looking forward to seeing it.  By the way, I will be flying to Florida and I'll meet him there... :)

So he will leave for Florida on his bike around September 20th and I'll leave September 25th.  We have a hotel room on the beach and I am very much looking forward to this relaxing oceanside trip.
Unloaded trike from the trailer

And off he goes.....

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Kind of a bad day -- PSA went up.....

Today was our appointment with the oncologist for lab work and the Xgeva shot.

HERE'S WHAT THE DOCTOR SAID:  "Your PSA went up slightly from 3.9 to 6.6.  Please don't let this depress you -- I have had a lot of patients whose PSA bounced around for a period of time and then went down and stayed down for a year or more.  So we just need to watch it closely.  And I'd like to be proactive to be sure we stay on top of things so let's schedule another PSA test in several weeks.  We have to wait at least two weeks before we can do another one, so any time at your convenience after two weeks from today.  And let's also do a full-body bone scan and a CT scan so we can compare it to your past one, so if there's any change we'll see it quickly."  [At this point I mentioned we had a trip to Florida scheduled on September 20th...]  Dr. Flaig said, "By all means, take your trip and schedule these tests for when you get  back."  Dr. Flaig also mentioned other options and drugs and clinical trials that we can talk about later.  I asked about Zytiga and he said that that drug can only be used after chemotherapy so it does not apply to Marshall.


We went and got the Xgeva (bone strengthener) shot and headed home.

What a day......

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Vanity Plates

I got Marshall some vanity plates for the trike -- STNGER -- so here's a copy of the back of the bike with the new plates.  I have not yet been able to take any pictures that will do justice to this bike, but hopefully tomorrow.  You can see the gatling gun tailpipes and you can sort of see the AC119 gunship on the left fender firing on targets, and the survivor pictures on the right fender and the Eagle guarding the United States on the top trunk, but not good enough. 

Yesterday we bought a trailer for the bike so that he can get the bike from our house to town without ruining the paint job with rocks.  The trailer is pretty nice -- it has a skylight/vent in the top and lots of lights.  And since Marshall was riding the motorcycle back home, it was my job to pull the trailer back.  That was a little scary since I hadn't pulled a trailer in lots of years.  But it was easier than I was anticipating and we made it!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Early Photos of Motorcycle

Today was a VERY long day, so here are some early photos of the trike. These pictures don't do it justice.  Better ones will follow in the days to come.  The first five were taken at the Harley dealership; the last two were taken at Fred & Jana's.
Rear view shows the "gatling gun" tailpipes.

This is the rear end showing the eagle protecting the United States.  The right fender
shows the survivors of Stinger 41 posing in front of their aircraft.

From the side, shows the tank.

Fender showing map of VietNam.

Jana and Marshall in the back, Jeffrey in the driver's seat....

Jeffrey and Fred.