Wednesday, December 30, 2009

the glasses saga continues

I called the eye doc's office on Monday. The woman I talked to didn't seem to know what to do after I explained what had happened. She said that I should bring the glasses by the office when I get a chance. I told her I couldn't do that because I am in Indianapolis. She said, "Well, you can bring them in when you get back from vacation." Ha! I explained to her that I wasn't on vacation. I live in Indy. Then, she didn't know what to do and would talk to "Linda". Linda called Tuesday. She apologized for the lack of communication. Apparently, the frame supply had my frames on backorder and they will be in-stock in a couple weeks. When they are ready, the glasses will be sent to me. Obviously, I was surprised since I had just gotten the other glasses and I asked her what I should do with these. She told me to just keep them as consideration for the inconvenience. Now, I will have to pairs of backup glasses. That's a lot of glasses when you consider I may only need them for maybe six months - or, until I need cataract surgery.

On a different note, all kids and dogs have now returned home. Quiet. No dog toys. No dog jumping on our bed in the morning. It is always nice to see the kids and we would love to see them more often. But, it is also nice to get our house back to ourselves.

This morning I stepped in the shower and was hit rudely with cold water. Our water heater clearly was not working. Jill called the plumber and they sent someone in the early afternoon. Turns out that we didn't need a new hot water heater. I have no idea how long a hot water heater lasts. But, the plumber said that he thinks he put it in and that it was "only" six years old. Apparently, the pilot light had gone out and is supposed to relight itself. Jill says he used a blow torch to light it. I never would have had the nerve to try that - much happier to have him do it. So, hopefully, all is back to normal.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

glasses story continues

My bad luck with vision continues. The next chapter of the story is that I rec'd my new glasses in the mail today. Guess what? After breaking the first pair when trying to fit them, this time they aren't the frames that I picked. They aren't bad frames but I will now need to call their office Monday to see what the heck happened. The good thing is that I can see with the glasses. My vision is not as sharp as it used to be a few months ago. But, I can see well enough to pass my next driving test - which may have been a problem before the glasses.


The holidays are about over - at least the busy part of them. Brett & Arielle arrived on Tuesday after driving Monday and Tuesday. This was our first opportunity to spend much time with Barkley - their bassett, beagle, lab, and whatever mix. He is pretty energetic and spoiled. He likes lots of attention.

On Thursday night (Xmas eve) we did our traditional evening meal of finger foods. As always, a very fun meal; but, lots of work getting everything ready. Meatballs, shrimp, pigs in a blanket (wrapped wieners), veggie tray.

Julie arrived on Friday. She had kennel duty at school on Thursday and spent the evening with Michael and his parents. Turned out that her area (St Louis) didn't get weather as bad as further north and her drive was uneventful. We had a few minor incidents when Penny (Julie's beagle) and Barkley met for the first time. Things mostly calmed down eventually.

We cooked a prime rib roast for the first time. Turned out very delicious. Didn't realize how easy it is to make really good prime rib. Usual sides - double-baked potatoes, sweet corn (from the summer), asparagus, hot rolls. We usually open presents on Xmas eve; but, waited until Xmas day when Julie got here. Always lots of fun taking turns as we open the presents. I now have a pair of jeans that fits me without being pinched up with a belt.'s time to just sit back and relax for the next couple days.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Nothing really new

Figure that I better write something so some don't wonder where I am. Still working on getting used to wearing glasses again. 7 or 8 years since I had lazik and have only worn reading glasses since then. A little different wearing glasses most of the time. It sure is nice, however, to see well again. Eyes are still watering and it looks like I am stuck with that - at least, for a while.

Don't really notice much difference since I had tubes put in my ears other than, obviously, I don't feel the contant sensation of fluid in my ears. I can't tell much difference in terms of hearing.

Still having some "stomach" issues. Don't have much appetite; but, I eat because I know I must. About the only meal that doesn't bother me is breakfast - Cheerios every day. Weight has been stable - I think. I've taken Zantac, Tums and ginger - none have helped. This problem came on about the time I started the Alimta. I am hoping maybe it will clear up now that I've have the last chemo. Maybe time will solve this issue.

Huge snow storm on the East Coast this weekend. Some areas may get more than 20". I sure am glad we have only had a little snow so far. Hoping things get cleaned up by the time Brett and Arielle plan to drive to Indy for Xmas. It has been chilly and the cold bothers me much more that in the past. At least I can layer and that mostly works for me. I've lost around 60 lbs - so I can pretty easily wear layers without them fitting tight like they did when I was heavier.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dad's 80th birthday party

Yesterday, Jill and I went to Bettendorf, IA to attend my dad's 80th birthday party. I think there were maybe 50 people at the party - brothers, sister, an uncle, nieces, and many more - of course, my stepmom who planned and pulled off the entire party. Spent time catching up with a few people that I haven't seen in years. I am very glad we were able to make it.

Friday, December 11, 2009


Well...there's good news and funny news about when I picked up my glasses. First, the good news. I can see 20/20. I will admit that I had my doubts. I imagined coming back to Joliet to get the glasses and still not being able to see well. I was wrong. My vision is quite good.

I do need to take off the glasses to read; but, I knew that would be the case. But, I didn't want to pay for bifocals when I might only use the glasses for 6 months.

Now, the funny part - they broke my new frames while trying to fit them to my face. My right ear is much lower than my left and the frames need to be bent to fit my oddity. Well...they broke the frame that holds the lens. Can't be fixed and they ordered a new pair.

In the meantime, they found another set of frames in-stock that fit the lenses. Now, they will send the new glasses to me in Indy - using the broken frames as a guide. And, I can keep the makeshift glasses as a backup. They also gave me a pair of "fitovers" since the temps don't have the magnetic sunglasses of my new frames. The fitovers are a real fashion statement!

But, at least I have glasses to use and I can now see. We drive to Iowa (Quad Cities) tomorrow for my Dad's 80th birthday party - less than 3 hours since we are starting in Joliet. We'll come back to Joliet tomorrow night and head back to Indy Sunday morning - hopefully, early enough to get home to watch the Colts.

Take care and be well. - JimA

Sent via Blackberry. Please excuse short answers and typos.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Cab Ride

Thanks to Marla Parr for sharing this with me.

“The Cab Ride”
I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes I walked to the door and knocked. 'Just a minute', answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.
After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90's stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940's movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.
'Would you carry my bag out to the car?' she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb.
She kept thanking me for my kindness. 'It's nothing', I told her. 'I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated'. 'Oh, you're such a good boy', she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address and then asked, Could you drive through downtown?'
'It's not the shortest way,' I answered quickly. 'Oh, I don't mind,' she said. 'I'm in no hurry. I'm on my way to a hospice'.
I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. 'I don't have any family left, she continued in a soft voice. The doctor says I don't have very long.' I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.
'What route would you like me to take?' I asked. For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.
Sometimes she'd ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing. As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, 'I'm tired. Let's go now'.
We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her. I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.
'How much do I owe you?' she asked, reaching into her purse.
'Nothing,' I said.
'You have to make a living,' she answered.
'There are other passengers,' I responded.
Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.
'You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,' she said.

'Thank you'.

I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.
I didn't pick up any more passengers on that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?
On a quick review, I don't think that I have done anything more important in my life. We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware- beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

You won't get any big surprises if you send this to people. But, you might help make the world a little kinder and more compassionate by sending it on, and reminding us that often it is the random acts of kindness that most benefit all of us.
Thank you, my friend...
Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we are here we might as well dance.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Catch up from after Thanksgiving

Looks like to need to  catch up a little on my blogging. Eye exam on Friday after Thanksgiving went well. Learned that my opthalmologist here in Indy screwed up by leaving out a few things. First, Dr Aras Zlioba says my eyes are both developing cataracts. But, they are not bad enough to do surgery - that may be another 6 months or so. This is a side effect of the brain radiation - one that we knew was likely. Examination indicates there is no cause/effect from the brain lesions. Apparently, my cataract development has been just a little faster than normal. It usually takes something like 1 1/2 years to 2 years for the cataracts to develop. However, it turns out that my vision can be corrected to 20/20. It is as simple as getting glasses - imagine that. I won't be able to use them once I get cataract surgery; but, they will correct my vision until then. I got a call today that the glasses are ready; but, I won't be picking them up until Dec 11 when we will be headed to Joliet anyway.

Then, this past Tuesday, I saw an ENT about my ears - Dr Michael Moore. He inserted tubes in both ears the same day. I had lots of fluid in the left ear - along with quite a bit of hearing loss. Right ear was much better; but, he put in the tube as a preventative anyway - something about negative pressure inside the ear that would likely result in fluid buildup. I go back for the ENT to check on progress in mid-February. Right now, I have been putting in ear drops twice a day to prevent infection - last day today. Need to keep water out of my ears and let the tubes do their job of draining fluid.

Then, on Wednesday, I got my last Alimta infusion. So...I'll be done with chemo for a little while - maybe months. The NIH wants to wait for confirmation of whether my lungs are in remission. Dr E seems to think that the Alimta may have been successful. I will get a chest CTs with and without contrast in mid-Feb to confirm. If I am in remission, then the NIH will wait before putting me on the test chemo - and that's a good thing. No reason to take the new drug to get me into remission if I am already in remission. The last time I was in remission, it lasted 18 months before progressing (Aug, 2007 to Feb, 2009). Dr E has told me that successive remissions are usually shorter than previous remissions - but we'll keep our fingers crossed. If he confirms that I am in remission (for the lungs), then I will get CTs every couple months and go on the NIH test chemo once the lung cancer begins to progress again. Hopefully, that will be quite a while.

Nothing new on the brain lesions. I get my next MRI in mid-Feb - it's gonna be a busy mid-Feb. With the eyes and ears both being side effects of the brain radiation, it seems that I am still not experiencing any symptoms from the actual brain lesions yet. All 13 are pretty small and, as I indicated earlier, the 3 largest lesions have actually reduced in size. Again, we monitor and get occasional MRIs and watch for symptoms. Dr H will figure out a course of action whenever the lesions grow, cause symptoms or when new lesions develop. Until then, no news is good news.

So...I think that catches things up through today.