Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Miscellaneous Information

I have several e-mail addresses. None of them are very reliable but the best is doyleshoover@yahoo.com

I've completed the second series of radiation treatments.

A radiation treatment involves laying on a movable table on an X-ray machine while the technicians push & pull on your body until an intersecting pair of lasers are aligned with dots that have been tattoo'd on your torso during your first visit, when the location of your tumor is determined through a series of X-rays.

Once your body has been calibrated to the X-ray machine, the typical treatment involves TWO sub-critical bursts of X-ray's, aimed so that the critical amount of energy is achieved ONLY where the two beams of X-rays intersect.

An X-ray treatment may take as little as ten minutes, although twice that is more the norm.

Today I commenced the next scheduled sequence of chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy is a Nine Dollar word for treating a medical problem with drugs... or chemicals. In the case of chemotherapy as applied to CANCER, chemotherapy typically refers to intravenous injections of a quart or more at a time. In the broadest sense the chemicals drip-drip-dripping out of their plastic baggie and into your arm are POISONS. The dosage is carefully calibrated so as to kill the cancer without doing too much damage to the patient, although there's usually some. In some cases the chemicals cause your hair to fall out, the generation of spurious pains, nausea of monumental proportions and even changes to your personality triggered by chemical imbalances.

There are solutions for each of these problems, mostly in the form of other drugs and chemicals, such as an anti-nausea drug, a pain-killer and so forth. These drugs don't prevent the chemotherapy problems, they simply reduce their effects to a level we can live with, on the assumption that once our chemotherapy is completed and we can stop taking the chemicals, the problems they have precipitated will cease.

That means the trick is to get through your course of chemotherapy as comfortably as possible. Alas, we humans are so variable in our make-up that it takes some degree of experimentation on the part of the physician to arrive at the proper dosage of these counter-chemotherapy drugs that we may find the happy medium before conclusion of the chemotherapy, which can run for a number of months in some cases. How do we know that? By keeping track of our blood chemistry.

Blood samples are drawn every seven to ten days and fed into automated blood analysis machines. The results are printed-out on a report similar to a spread sheet, showing the measured amount of a particular chemical followed by a footnote showing the normal range for that particular chemical. For example, the normal range of White Blood Cells (as per cubic microLiter of blood) is 4.6 to 10.2, meaning a measured WBC level of 9.3 would be acceptable, while comparison to past blood tests would tell us if the trend is rising, falling or steady. This procedure is applied to more than two dozen chemicals or characteristics that reflect normal blood.


Once your blood chemistry reaches -- and maintains -- a stable state for a period of eight to ten weeks it indicates the causitive element -- the tumor or what-have-you -- is no longer active. Not cured, simply inactive. But that means your chemotherapy has been effective, and that you may chose to reduce your blood tests to once a month or an even longer period. This is not as risky as it may appear since you would still be performing a daily measurement of your Basic Vital Signs, such as your weight, blood pressure, pulse rate and body temperature. If your tumor becomes active it will usually cause a change in your Basic Vital Signs, giving you plenty of warning --- more than enough to schedule additional blood tests.


I'm sitting in the kitchen, where I've homesteaded a corner near the back door... and immediately adjacent to a small bathroom. I am wearing clean, freshly laundered new clothes that very comfortable although their size (LARGE) would not have fit me a year ago.

Oddly enough, some of the new clothing is NOT from China ! ! The baseball cap is from MEXICO and one of my new shirts is from Bangladesh, which makes me something of a world traveler without having to leave home. (Or rather, without having to leave Wal-Mart :-)