Saturday, October 12, 2002

A Little Astronomy, Medical Meetings, But Some Bad News, Too.

Dave’s Great Adventure
Chapter 3, Verse 4
October 12, 2002
Things are looking good...

Hello again. It’s been about ten days since my last “verse” went out...the longest I think I’ve gone without putting out an update. The reason is that I’ve actually been quite busy since the last edition. I have been feeling quite well, overall, and have been very active, perhaps too active.

Last week I went to see the nose doc again. She showed me the CT scan films and told me what’s going on. It turns out that I have a partially obstructed right maxillary sinus and that’s causing my problems. She said it’s not a big deal, but that we could do surgery on it if I was interested. It wouldn’t be a big surgery, but still I’m not in the mood to have surgery at the present. In addition, she’s not too interested in operating on my sinuses when my white count is down in the 2,000 range. So we agreed that I’d keep treating myself with decongestants and intermittent antibiotics for now, and consider the surgery after I have finished my chemotherapy and my immune system is in better shape. So, Sudafed has become one of my major food groups as I try to keep the sinus from getting congested and causing pain, which then often triggers a migraine headache!

Last weekend I was feeling so normal that I went out to the prairie for “new moon.” New moon is, of course, when the moon is dark and that is the best time to do astronomy. So I drove the 110 miles (170 km) out to the Pawnee Grasslands, a federally protected area about thirty miles east of Fort Collins. Way out there, we are able to get away from the light pollution of Denver and its suburbs. I was able to put my telescope together without help, though it was a bit of a struggle. The tube (11 inch diameter) weighs about 46 pounds ( 20 kg) and I have to lift it off the ground and mount it on a four foot tripod. This is not generally a problem, but I’m somewhat weaker than usual these days. Nevertheless, I got it set up and calibrated and was able to look at a number of fascinating galaxies and nebulae during the course of the evening. There were no planets to see at this time of the year; they’ll be visible later in the Fall. I tired faster than usual (no surprise there) and took everything apart and left for home about 10:30, instead of my usual 1:00 AM or so.

The next morning I was tired and overslept, so we didn’t make it to church. I did get up in time to watch football. My guys were playing the previously undefeated San Diego Chargers and did a good job of keeping their offense in check, handing them their first defeat. I found that I was quite sore on Sunday; my muscles were protesting their abuse the previous night out on the prairie. Not only were my arms sore from manhandling the ‘scope around, but my neck and back were sore from all the stooping and bending I had done in looking into the eyepiece all night. When you do astronomy you assume some unusual postures during the course of the evening.

During this week I have been working and attending medical meetings. I have been needing to get some medical education meetings completed as I need them for my medical license. Our organization put on a very good all-day meeting last Tuesday on the subject of breast cancer. We had excellent lectures on the causes, detection and treatment of this disease. Unfortunately, at this meeting I learned that one of my colleagues is now terminally ill with breast cancer. I mentioned last July that a colleague who had had chemotherapy for breast cancer told me I might feel “fuzzy.” This colleague was actually working in my place in our clinic for several weeks last July through October to help while I was absent. We just found out that Laurel’s breast cancer has spread to her liver and lungs.

This is very sad. Laurel had married a little on the late side, and then was unable to have children. While going about treatments to try to get pregnant, she found she had the breast cancer. But she went through surgery and radiation and was thought to have been cured, so she adopted a little boy and girl. Then the cancer came back, and now it has spread beyond treatment. Very sad.

I worked in the clinic two days this week, Wednesday and Thursday, and was able to see a large number of patients. I was really tired at the end of the day each time, but it was nice once again to be with my partners and the staff in the clinic for a couple of days. I was even frisky enough for a while to get into a water gun fight with a couple of our nurses. But, I paid the price. I was very tired when I got home.

Friday I went, regrettably, to another medical meeting. I say regrettably because it was probably the worst medical meeting I’ve ever gone to. It was entitled “Journey Through the Circle of Life; A Perinatal Loss Conference.” With that title one would expect that it would be a conference studying the causes and prevention of pregnancy loss. But it was, instead, eight hours of “touchy-feely” lectures about what the various speakers thought about the topic. Very little data was presented. It was supposed to “raise our awareness” of the topic! Please! When you have nurses and docs at that type of conference, you can be absolutely certain that we are, indeed, “aware” of the problem. One lecturer suggested we all light candles at 7:00 PM this Thursday night to help raise our awareness. That kind of bullsh*t has no place at all at a “scientific” meeting. Oh well, I guess it beat working for the day.

We have been having an absolutely spectacular Fall here in the Rocky Mountain area. Our days have been sunny, in the 70s, and the mountains have been getting some snow. They look so beautiful and white against the bright blue skies. And all our famous aspen trees, the ones I curse at when they try to sprout in my grass, are now a brilliant yellow, adding to the beauty. We’ve had a few days of rain, not enough to break the drought, but every bit helps. It is actually a little late in the year for us not to have had any snow here in Denver. Generally we start in September some time. It will come soon enough, however.

I have mentioned several times that I frequent on-line auctions from time to time. Well, with my extra time on my hands I’ve decided to become an entrepreneur as well. I’m now selling (a very few) things on eBay! I have collected a number of old coins during my years of collecting and have a lot of extras. I decided to try to see if I can sell them. The answer is that you can sell anything on eBay. I started out small, auctioning off three coins and getting over $300. That doesn’t really mean I MADE $300 though. I lost $50 on one coin, made $40 on another and I forgot what I paid for the third one several years ago. But it‘s fun to do. If this goes well, I’ll sell some more after I’m over my next round of “fuzzies.” I’m not at all sure what the tax implications of all this are, however. I don’t want the IRS (steueramt) to come after me looking for unpaid taxes!

I think my brother Douglas, the professor out in Rock Hill, South Carolina, may be right after all. At least to some extent. I do seem to be getting fat. The weight I gained hasn’t all melted away like it’s supposed to during the past couple of weeks. I’m down to about 178 or so, but still about 4-5 pounds more than my usual weight. That means I’ll likely be over 190 when I get the next course of treatment! My hair is starting to fall out again; it’s been almost four weeks since the last round. It doesn’t fall out by the handful, like some people experience. It’s more like a dog shedding in the Summer. It just falls out faster than normal. You still can’t really tell by looking, except that the part in my hair is a bit thinner. You mostly can tell by feel. Kathy and I can tell, but most folks generally don’t run their fingers through my hair, so they don’t know. We’ll see what it looks like at the end. I’m only halfway through this stuff, you know.

Let me mention a couple of other things I got for my birthday. A couple of days after the date we received a registered letter from Germany containing coupons for flowers at any FTD/Teleflora shop. It had been sent by our dear friends, the Galla relatives. The accompanying card had five bears wishing me a great birthday, in German, of course. And they had written that the five “Galla bears” sent their greeting. Well, at the FTD shop, the clerk looked at the coupons and said she had she had worked there for 24 years or something, and had never seen such a coupon. So she called the central office in downtown Denver, and they weren’t sure what to do with them or how to exchange them. So she called someone in Dallas, or somewhere in Texas, and found out how to make the exchange. While she was doing all the phone calls we were looking at their displays and found what we thought was the perfect flower arrangement. They had a “Happy Bearday” basket with a stuffed bear in a “Happy Birthday“ shirt, so we opted for that as my gift. It was perfect.

And our friends the Henefelds, hearing about my need for spicy food, bought me a couple of different bottles of “Dave’s Gourmet Insanity Hot Sauce.” The instructions warn that
you should use the product only one drop at a time! They also picked up a T-shirt from the company with “Dave’s” on the back. To add to my collection of reading material, they presented me with a book of writings by Baxter Black, the “Cowboy Poet.” Now I have even more stuff to read at bedtime and to keep Kathy awake as I laugh while reading. Funny stories!

Last Tuesday morning, the day I went to the breast cancer meeting, we had to get up quite early as I had to be downtown before 8:00 AM. Kathy got up, too, to get breakfast, and was going down the stairs in the dark when she missed a step. She ended up on the floor with a badly sprained left ankle. I didn’t know about it until I came downstairs after my bath. She had a huge knot on the side of her ankle about the size of an egg! I had to leave shortly, so I ran up the stairs to find a wrap for her ankle, got it wrapped up securely, gave her some ibuprofen and we put ice on it. Then I had to leave my crippled wife all alone. I took the cell phone with me and called a couple of times during the day to make sure she was okay, and she was. She’s doing well now; her ankle is a bit sore and swollen, and has turned a lovely shade of blue and yellow with green “highlights” but is not bothering her too much at this point.

Since it’s now five days since I started this, and have been delayed in sending it out by the virus scare, I think I’ll just hit the send button and get it on its way. I’m doing day three of my fourth round of the chemo and I’ll tell you about how that’s going, and more, soon. Though, I might have to wait until I’m past my “fuzzies” which I think are already sneaking up on me.

Until later,