Monthly Archives

March 2015


New Health Update

It’s been a long time since I wrote in my blog. I have been in my hospital room ocusor 18 days. Yesterday, I received great news, that my numbers were good enough for me to go home. It is both exciting and scary.

I have amazing nurses and doctors to thank for taking such good care of me. I feel loved at the hospital. But I also feel like a person that has been in jail and is now being released into society. As much as I hate being cooped up, it becomes very familiar. Suddenly, the real world seems overwhelming. But I’ve been very eager to just smell fresh air. Even people in jail get an hour of fresh air a day.

Here is a list of what I experienced over the past 18 days:

  • Shared a room for 4 days. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, but when people are sick, trust me, you don’t want to share a room or bathroom. You don’t sleep.
  • Got a rash all over my chest
  • Had a fever (bigger deal when you have Cancer). Judging by the x-rays, they thought it was mild pneumonia. Took antibiotics for a week.
  • 5 blood transfusions
  • 2 platelet transfusions
  • 1 allergic reaction to the platelet transfusion. Broke out in major hives all over body. Had to take two rounds of Benadryl through my IV.
  • 2 Chest x rays
  • Major mouth sores where I couldn’t open my mouth for 3 days. Couldn’t eat or drink.
  • Extreme lower back spasms from having Neupogen shots in my belly each day.
  • IBS

Yes, this all sounds very dramatic, but it has been quite the run. There is probably more that I can’t remember. There are so many “scary” things constantly taking place. It can drive you nuts if you worry about everything. The entire time, I was just thinking about not thinking too much. I would constantly remind myself to only think about the things in my control. Anything out of my control, I had to have the discipline of mind to push it out of the way.

There simply is no reason to worry about anything that is out of our control. What will happen will happen. The more stuff that we go through in a small period of time, the harder it is to stay cool and calm. But we just have too.

By refocusing my energy on what I could control, I was able to maintain my sanity. I would focus on small things, like drinking a lot of water, taking walks in the hallway, listening to classical music (thanks to Norm’s advice), and trying to eat as much as possible.

I have successfully finished round 1A, 1B, and 1C, which I just completed. 1C is the big one. You typically have to stay in your hospital room for 18-21 days straight. Next up is h2A, 2B and 2C. Then 3B. Each round takes a little over a month. So there are about four and a half intense months left. After that it is maintenance, which is no picnic, but is all outpatient. This means that if all goes well, I won’t have to stay in the hospital during treatment. So I just cleared a huge hurdle, getting through these first three rounds.

I am now at my new house that April and I are renting in University City. I love it. April has done an amazing job getting it all set up. But I do feel an adjustment period. At the hospital, if something feels a little funny, I just push a button and a nurse is there within a minute. Here at the house, I feel unplugged. I don’t have filtered air. I have to be much more cautious/paranoid. I have to watch out for sick people, flying dust, dirt that has fungus, etc. At the moment it is difficult to relax. I’m sure in a few days I will settle in.

Ultimately I am so glad to be out of the hospital. It was so great to sleep on my Tempurpedic bed. It was nice to see birds, walk on carpet, go to the refrigerator, pee in a regular toilet, and sit on a couch. Over the next twelve days, I will get to recover. Hopefully gain some strength back. My son Brandon will be in town next Thursday, and I am super happy about that.

Before I left the hospital, the doctors asked what I was most looking forward to. I said that I was very excited to garden with Brandon at my new house. The doctors immediately shut that one down, and said that gardening is out for my entire three-year program. It is too dangerous because of the fungus. I’m not going to lie. I was bummed.

I decided to make a list of all the things that I can’t do for three years. Gardening is officially on that list now, along with being at Padre games, traveling outside of San Diego, eating at restaurants, swimming in the ocean, going to movies, hugging all my friends, eating Chipotle, lifting weights, and making babies. This list will continue to grow. Then, three years from now, I am going to do everything on that list. I may even take a year off of work, and spend my time accomplishing all of these things. So get ready for some hugs!


My All-Inclusive Resort

Monday, I had a bone marrow biopsy, which I will describe in detail. It isn’t horrible but it definitely isn’t my favorite. For those that get the heebie jeebies, you may want to skip this paragraph.

To perform a bone marrow biopsy, they have you lay on your stomach. They put a long needle in your backbone, near your hip. Although the needle is intended to numb the area, it first needs to reach the bone, which takes some effort. Once the needle is in position, they take another tool that I can best describe as an apple core peeler. They kind of wind and twist their way until they reach the bone, then ask me to blow out air as they extract bone marrow fluid. This part feels like a sudden horse kick from a Clydesdale. A couple of spontaneous profanities flow instantly from my mouth.

After being relieved that it was done, they said, “just two more times.”

When it was really over, I felt slightly abused. But within a half hour or so, it was like it never happened. Just a story to write in my blog. I only describe this because I really want to make sure I always remember the journey. When you feel great, it is easy to forget. But remembering helps to keep you humble.

Last night, I checked in to the hospital for round 1C of my Chemo treatment. This round of chemo is intense. I will be in the hospital for three weeks and have an 80+ percent chance of having nasty sores in my mouth, fevers, strong temporary neurological brain spacing (forgetting the date, names, etc), a very upset stomach and other unknowns. But it is what it is. There are a million ways to look at the same thing. I can run in fear and say “I don’t want to go through this,” or fantasize in my head about all of the ‘what ifs’…. But that just won’t change anything. It will only give major anxiety.

Looking at it another way, I can choose to be excited. When I do get through this next round, It will be one major step closer to my victory. And when I go home, it will be to the house that April and I just rented near the hospital. It has a big backyard, so I am going to do a lot of reading on gardening, and will have a killer garden full of fruits and veggies. I must continue to focus on the positives for my sanity.

I decided to give this hospital thing an alternative mental spin. Let’s start over just for fun. Here it goes :)

Last night, I checked into my all-inclusive resort. It’s absolutely amazing! It is all you can eat and drink, and they bring breakfast, lunch and dinner right to your room. They really wait on you hand and foot. No matter how much you eat, you will probably lose quite a bit of weight on their special Chemo diet that you can only get here. If you need to pee, they don’t make you get up to go to the bathroom. No way… They just give you a plastic container by your bed and say “Use that, I am happy to empty it for you, just page me anytime.” All of the beds recline and incline at a push of a button.

At this all-inclusive, there is always someone checking out your body. The staff may even have you pull your pants down so they can feel your balls for a few minutes. Surprisingly, your wife will actually appreciate it, and maybe even thank them for the extra care. To top it off, get this… It’s all free. Thats right, your insurance company is happy to cover this trip for you as long as you have coverage. They even say that you can go back every couple of weeks. What a place!! Amazing!!


Health Update

This Sunday, I will be going back into the hospital for another round of chemo. This is a big one, and I’m sure will be full of drama. So they are making a movie starring Brad Pitt as my lookalike actor. I hope you enjoy the movie poster, above ;) Thank you to my producer Billy for putting this together. Ha!

I have been feeling great this past week. This is the most energy that I have had since getting diagnosed. I even got to go into the office the other day to see the team. It was so great to go back and hang for a couple of hours. I wanted to wait until I was healthy enough. It is nice to know that I can recover after getting zapped.

It is still the simple things that I really appreciate. Instead of laying down, I can sit up and watch TV. I can pour myself orange juice – until recently, I needed help with that. I cooked myself a burrito the other day. Right now, I am sitting at my desk, rather than laying flat and trying to type with one finger. It has been really nice. I took all these things for granted before.

This next chemo will be one of the biggest that I will undergo throughout this process. I will be confined to my hospital room for about three weeks. The people that come in and out will need sanitary jackets and masks. They will be constantly monitoring my levels to make sure that I am ok.

There are a lot of potential side effects that come with this next dose. There is a high probability of high fevers, mouth sores, liver and kidney issues, etc… So am I nervous? Yes. Am I excited? Yes. I am excited get past these next three weeks. I am ready to fight through the challenges that I am sure to face. I know my body will once again be very weak, but I am now much more optimistic. I have seen firsthand how hard the body works to heal itself.

I also want to put a very good word out to my neighbor Bob. I have known him since I was born. At one point, he was my baseball coach. He is a great person, with love and support from his wife Diane and two sons. He just underwent a Quintuple bypass surgery. I didn’t even know it went up that high. His surgery was successful, but for all those out there who pray, I ask you to put out a prayer for my friend and neighbor for a quick and healthy recovery.

If you don’t see a blog post for a couple weeks, please know that I am fine and just fighting through the next round. I wish you all a very happy rest of the week.



Tonight I’m Nineteen Again

A couple nights ago, I sat down for dinner, and began to feel nauseous. I couldn’t eat my food. My family was looking at me with their normal concern. I excused myself from the table, took some nausea medicine, and decided to lie down for thirty minutes so the medicine could kick in.

As I lay down, I started to feel sorry for myself, but quickly decided that was a waste of time. I put on Pandora instead, and played the Greg Laswell station. As the songs played, I went down memory lane. Chapters started again opening up in my head that had been closed for so long.

I started thinking about how different life was for me at nineteen. I was amazed at all the details that rushed back into my brain. I suddenly remembered who I was at that time, and how I felt and thought. I missed that guy a bit.

Nineteen was a time before having a kid, experiencing love, having a “real job,” becoming an adult, and having huge responsibilities. I’m not saying it was a better time of life. It isn’t a time where I say to myself, “man, I wish it was then instead of now.” I love my family, my job and my life. It isn’t about that at all. It is just a time of life that has been hidden in my mind for a long time. Years have rolled by and it has sat temporarily forgotten.

At nineteen, I was in Junior College, working at 1-Hour Moto Foto in Pacific Beach. That was pretty much it. I wasn’t yet thinking of marriage or children. I wasn’t building a corporation yet. I didn’t have people that depended on me. I had virtually no responsibilities other than paying my rent: $375 a month for my half. I was sharing a one-bedroom place with a friend of mine, and each week we would trade off possession of the only bed. The other person would sleep on the couch, which we bought at the swap meet for twenty dollars (yes it was gross).

At the time, I had goals, but they didn’t define me so much. I really was living life and enjoying it. During that time, it was all about my friendships. Every weekend was spent with friends, just enjoying each other’s company. We would have bonfires on Fiesta Island, and hang out at each other’s crappy apartments, where everything was second hand. We would go to Java Joe’s (coffee shop in OB) to listen to music, and I would play chess with Wolpoff (my best buddy).

About once a month, we would head down to Puerto Nuevo in Mexico. We would first go to this boat-shaped restaurant overlooking a cliff, and indulge in guacamole and chips while drinking a bucket of Cerveza. We would then go to a place called Lobster Camp, and enjoy the ocean views while eating lobster for under ten bucks.

Back at my apartment, friends would basically just show up. If nothing else was going on, we would go to the beach or barbecue. Plans would somehow form.

That summer, I decided it would be fun to take off to Japan. So I saved up enough for a flight and some entertainment and just left. In Japan, I traveled all over the place for a couple months by myself. There was very little preparation. I left my Moto Foto job, and said “see you in a couple months.” It was that easy.

I realize and understand that life has to change. The reality is that we have more responsibilities now. We have families to look after, and bills to pay. We have retirement to plan for, and kids’ college to save for. At nineteen, I didn’t really know what “being and adult” meant.

When I graduated college in 2000, I changed in a good way, and maybe also not the best way. I completely abandoned all balance. I dove into my company. For the next 10-plus years I worked 100-hour weeks. I was on a mission.

Now, just hearing that I worked 100-hour weeks and understanding what that meant are two very different things. Six to seven days a week, I worked from when I woke up until 2:00 am. It didn’t feel like work because I truly loved it. I still love it. But time and life moved fast. I didn’t see friends as much, and those relationships didn’t stay as strong. I didn’t see my family as much. I became one-dimensional.

When I was doing something other than my work, I was there but not always present. I was thinking about my next project or what I had to accomplish. The good part of this is that I got a lot done. Maybe that is what it takes to get to the next level. But it has now been fifteen years since I started True, and feels like it happened in a blink.

When I have beaten and survived this Cancer, my goal is to have balance and be present. I really want to bring back some elements of the nineteen-year version of myself. I was fun and carefree. I want to maintain and grow my friendships. I don’t want to live for my work. I want to work to live. I want my company to support my family and would love to see it continue to grow organically. But I want to enjoy the people around me much more.

I want to leave my responsibilities a little more, and just play a bit. I want to not just focus on getting somewhere, but be exactly where I’m at. I want to continue taking time to reflect.

I used to have the philosophy that looking back was a waste of time. I believed that the past was in the past for a reason, and concentrated on moving forward. I have changed my mind on this philosophy. Reflecting keeps you in touch with your core, and helps you move forward in the right direction. Looking back helps you remember who you were, and helps you understand what makes you truly happy.