Friday, October 19, 2018

Oh, Crap

     Yesterday was my appointment with my Oncologist.  The news was bad.  My PSA score increased from 4.3 to 8.4.  It appears that there is some of my cancer that has figured a way around the Zytiga that I've been taking.  So now, in 2 weeks (while continuing with my current medications), I'll be going through a whole battery of scans to see where the cancer is now and at what strength.  So, if you see an aura around me on November first, it won't be my glowing personality but the nuclear cocktail I had to drink.  On the 2nd, We'll meet with my doctor again, and most likely, I'll start a round of chemotherapy.  Not what I was looking for.
     Its nice to be rid of the Zytiga and its $2883 monthly co-pay, but along with that, I'll probably lose my hair.  So much for my new beard.
     I sure hope this will work.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Cancer hurts

This is the story about my struggle with prostate cancer.  The PSA test is helpful in diagnosing prostate cancer.  A normal, non cancerous PSA score is 0.  Anything above 0 might indicate the possibility of cancer.  In the spring of 2011, at a routine check up, my PSA score for prostate cancer was 1.4.  My doctor suggested I go see a Urologist but I never got around to it.  Two years later, quite by accident, I had my PSA taken and it was 11.4.  I then went to see a Urologist, two years late, had 14 biopsies on my prostate and all 14 tested positive for cancer.
So, in February 2013, I marked off sick from the railroad and started my treatment.  I started with 41 radiation treatments.  Since prostate cancer is fueled by testosterone, I underwent 3 years of hormone treatment that reduced my testosterone to castration levels.  After my last hormone shot in 2016, all my numbers looked great and we were hopeful that the cancer was eliminated.  As that last 3 month shot wore off, my testosterone levels started to rise.  (Normal levels for testosterone is 270 to 400)  By my December 2016 appointment with my Urologist, my PSA was 0.9 and my testosterone was still less than 200.  We were ecstatic hearing this news.
My next Urologist appointment was in August 2017.  My testosterone was over 300 buy my PSA was 10.4.  Here we go again.  My Urologist referred me to an excellent Oncologist.  We waited a month to make sure it wasn't an anomaly and in that time the PSA increased to 15.8.  I had numerous scans and tests and it turned out that my prostate cancer was Stage 4 and metastasized in the bone, lymph node and saliva gland in my left jaw, and in the bone in both hips, my backbone and ninth rib.  The biopsies all came back positive for prostate cancer.
So, I began getting hormone (Lupron) shots but that wasn't enough this time.  Testosterone is also produced by the adrenal gland and by the cancer itself.  So I began taking 4 Zytiga tablets a day along with a couple other drugs.  It takes care of that other testosterone.
My doctor told me that this treatment will someday quit working.  If and when that happens, we will have to try something else, like chemotherapy.  Three months ago, when I had my 3 month check up, my PSA was up from 1.6 to 4.6.  It scared me to death.  I went through a number of scans and tests again.  I had changed my diet by eliminating dairy, white potatoes, white rice and white flour.  I had read that these help feed hormonal cancers like prostate.  My doctor had me return to my normal diet and a week later my PSA  was 4.3 but my testosterone was still under 3 and my scans showed an improvement over 2016.  I have my next three month check up and shots next week and I'm very nervous about what my treatments will be now.
Of all the pain and discomfort that I have experienced, nothing compares to the stress.  Prostate cancer is stressful.  Stage 4 metastatic prostate cancer is extremely hard to cope with.  Every time you feel a new pain, you think the cancer has spread.  A friend of mine, my Tuesday night golf partner developed prostate cancer after I did.  His metastasized into the bone and while he was being treated for that, they found a mass on his lung and he passed away two weeks later.  When mine metastasized, that was all I could think of.  The month after my cancer returned and I got the final results were horribly stressful.  Now that I'm on Medicare, its stressful in a different way.  Even though I enrolled into the best Part D prescription plan there is, the co-pay for my Zytiga tables went from $1.67 to $2883 a month.
So, my life is lived in 3 month increments.  The last two weeks before my appointment, I'm scared to death I'll receive bad news.  I'm dealing with it the best I can.
So far, I've been fortunate that I haven't needed chemotherapy yet.  That's where it really gets scary.  I can't begin to understand what one goes through, the harsh chemicals, hair loss and horrible side effects.
My family and I pray that I don't have that fight. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Now, where was I?

All of the posts I've written in the last two years, yet didn't post start the same way. I give a lame excuse why I haven't written anything in two years. They basically fall into two categories. About half of them were political rants. They were entertaining, informative and totally correct. But, rants are rants and even though my political rants are real knee slappers, I usually let them gather dust in my journal. The second category is me trying to figure out if I'll retire when I'm eligible to do so on September 1, 2013 and what I'll do with myself if I do. Since I can retire with a marvelous pension at age 60 and the rest of you poor schlumps will probably have to work til you're 70, they came out as a tad boastful. Albeit in a witty and entertaining fashion.

When I first started writing this blog in 2008, I picked all the low hanging fruit pretty early. Other than political rants (Hey ladies! Those Republican bozos don't like you!) or retirement (Is it against the law to buy your first fishing pole after you turn 60?) I'm pumping a dry well. Writer's block, Texas tea. I've always thought that when that day came, I could always come up with something. I'm the guy who could get C's on essay tests in college without ever attending class or buying the book. My so-called line of bullshit was stretched pretty thin that first year. Go back and read some of that (crap) finely written prose. I still get Google hits on Dumbo and various similes.

Like everyone else, I felt I knew how things were going to turn out as I got older. I see myself as a fairly intelligent guy. I graduated college in the middle of the pack without really trying. As I look back on things, I realize that I was wrong pretty much all across the board. In some ways that's a good thing and in others, not so much.

Thirty years ago, I figured that when I got to be the age I am at now, I would be riding a caboose, just like my dad. Well, soon after dad retired, they replaced the cabooses with blinking red lights and there's no hiding for dear ol' Max.

Being somewhat of a loner who was basically scared of women, I had always figured I'd grow old alone and die alone. Instead, I met Jenny, we fell in love and I have a marvelous family that I adore. Jen has showed me how truly great life can be and its my sincerest wish that Shane finds someone like her someday.

When it comes to science and technology, I figured that it would come gradually but I never imagined anything like it is now. After all, it took nearly 20 years to get color TV. When I was at Purdue in the fall of 1971, I took a computer class. The school's computer took up the entire basement of the building it was in and was considered the state of the art. When you wrote a program, you had to type up a punch card for each line of code. One of the ways they would "wow" the new students would be to run a program that had a stack of cards two feet high. There was a plotter that plotted the line of an equation on a graph. The program was a whole ton of equations and when the computer plotted all of them, it turned out to be a picture of an elephant. From the time the TA fed the cards into the card reader and the graph was plotted, it took 30 minutes! Right now, the cell phone in my bag has much, much more computing power than that monster computer.

We used to laugh at mom who would just use her computer for playing solitaire, but that's me now! In the mid 70's, I once wrote a 2000 line program on mom's Commodore 64 computer to do payroll for Railroad Inn. Now, I need to call a help desk to figure out how to hit "enter" on a laptop running the railroad crew management program. I thought I'd always be cutting edge, like in 1971, but I ended up computer challenged. I don't play solitaire, though. My game is Minesweeper. My best ever time on expert is 94 seconds. Jenny thinks that I'm the only person in the world still playing Minesweeper. Like usual, she's probably right! I also love Facebook. It has allowed me to get acquainted with relatives I didn't really know, like Lisa Ley and Marsha Cook (Can't wait til this summer!). They're such sweethearts. I'm starting to tough base with old Army buddies like Andy Kovach and Steve Gipson and am able to follow the life and times of old school buddies and cousins who live far away. In five years, there will be something bigger and better coming along and when Jenny or Shane tell me about it, I'll enjoy it too.

Those of you who have read this blog in years past know that Jen and I have a fuzzy buddy in New Jersey. You know New Jersey and its governor, Chris Krispy Kreme. Fuzzy lives just down the road from Stephanie Plum and spends his time bailing out the Jersey economy in Atlantic City. It seems that retirement woke him up and since I've last posted, he and his long, long time best girl, Barb have gotten married. So, here's my blog congrats and I hope you two have many, many more years together.

Finally, since I've posted last, my daughter Shannon gave birth to my second granddaughter on 09-09-09. Her and Mike named her Taylor Maxine McClure and she's just as cute as her sister Jaden without the red hair. Having a baby named after me is the single greatest honor I've ever received. Shannon and Mike's tribute to me still has me walking on air.

Hopefully, I'll post a little more often than before. That'll stimulate the blogdom.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Call me Max +

The other day I got an e-mail about a guy who was always happy. His premise was that you voluntarily set your mood when you get up every day. You can choose to be happy and you will be a refreshing breath of fresh air to everyone around you. Or, you can choose to be a grouch and be a miserable pain in the ass to everyone. Of course, there's a neutral middle ground that the majority of people inhabit but like politics, only the fringes seem to get noticed and commented on.

Being someone who has always welcomed new ideas and new thinking, of course I've adopted this mentality as my own! I will be Mr. Happy! When you see someone grin, you'll think "I wonder what Max is doing?" Yes, when that old geezer in front of you in church farts a real gut wrencher, you'll think of me and remind him about having a timely colonoscopy. I hope to infuse life around me with an uplifting positive and yes, happy attitude.

Those of you who know me, know that I don't make these life altering decisions lightly. Before I quit smoking, I took 35 years to prepare. Before successfully turning my weight dilemma around, I studied it for 20 or so years. Yes, for me to come out and announce a life altering decision like this is truly monumental, if not newsworthy.

One of the reasons that I am becoming "Mr. Happy" is to throw off the "Mad Max" tag that Mel Gibson laid on me and all other Maxes in the world. If I'm ever gonna shake that "Mad Max" crap then I must become someone diametrically opposite of a mad guy. In the past when someone referred to me as "Mad Max", I'd say "No, that's happy Max!" But it never worked. Soon, when they see me, the last thing they'll think of is "Mad Max".

To replace that "Mad Max" tag, though, I need a gimmick that will make it memorable. Something like Prince did in the 90's. That won't quite work for me. I would probably be known then as "That Bozo formerly known as Mad Max!" I'm thinking of altering my name sorta like Max +. My motto could be "That Max, what a positive person!" My only dilemma is whether there should be a space between Max and the plus sign or not.

So, when I got up today (Friday) I was ready to become Mr. Happy Guy! After shaking hands with my little brother, I went to my bag to get my morning cereal (I'm at the work hotel in Chicago) and imagine my surprise when I noticed that I had forgotten to pack my usual Grape Nut Flakes. I just went down to the lobby where they have the continental breakfast set up and got me a bowl of "Honey Bunches of Crap" and a banana to slice on top of it. I'm happy for the dietetic change of pace. Come 10:30 and I took some half frozen chili out of my cooler and put it in my little 2 cup crock pot and head off for my 5 mile walk around Midway Airport.

As I walk for the next hour and a half, I greet everyone I meet with a smile and a kind word. In Chicago, not too many people, or at least those who go out walking, running or biking around the airport are very happy. As a matter of fact, there were a couple of old cankers, after receiving my happy greeting, I thought were gonna squat and crap right there on the sidewalk! Being new to this, I don't know "happy" in Spanish so I'm at a loss for greetings to our Mexican friends other than "hola". There are many more Hispanic walkers around the airport than any other ethnic group. I don't know why, nor do I care. That's only important to the grumblers, not us happy types.

When I got to the hotel and went to my room, of course, the magnetic key card didn't work in my door. So, I had to go all the way back to the lobby so the desk clerk could reswipe it. I didn't complain. I saw it as a chance to get a little more walking in! I get in my room, all sweaty, smell the chili (which is perfect) and realize that I forgot to pack clean clothes and I just sweat out my shirt. Am I po'd? Nah. Air it out for a couple hours and it'll be fine. Some of the guys I work with do it all the time! See, I'm fitting in more and more!

I know many of you are asking why I'm going for happy when its so much easier to be grouchy. Its not easy to grin when you break your little toe on a table leg but letting a stream of cuss words fly is a snap. As someone who has always gravitated toward the easy side when making choices, this is a departure from habit. There are a couple reasons. Even though a Pollyanna can get a bit tedious for people around him, its a much better environment for your family than dealing with a bitchy sourpuss. When you're happy, everyone around you is too. When you have a stick up your ass, that stick hits everyone on the head! (Not a pretty sight, huh Fuzzy?)

The other reason is purely selfish. One thing I've noticed about health is that pleasant, happy people rarely have premature heart attacks. Most of my co-workers who've had heart attacks before they retired were bitchers and complainers. A bad attitude results in bad health and a positive attitude leads to a positive healthy being. That might be a load of crap but what if it isn't?

Also, with this new attitude, its a good thing I'm a liberal Democrat. One thing I've noticed lately is the Right Wingers are not a happy bunch. They are spewing hatred and lies about everyone and everything that doesn't agree to their narrow minded stereotypical view of life and such misery can't be healthy for the body, the spirit or for relationships. To them I just smile and say "Vaya con dios, mus muchachos!" Yeah, "Go with God" because unless you lighten up, you'll be seeing him sooner than you think!!

Now, being a happy fellow is nice but unless you do it right, you come out looking like a dork. I'll definitely have to change some of my stock one liners. When someone says "How ya doin'?" I usually say "I'm doing, I just don't know how yet." To "Have a good day" I always say either "I'll try but I won't make any guarantees" or "I'll be sure to make the heroic effort, you can count on it". I've just always figured that as long as people greet me with the same old tired lines, I'll reciprocate with an old tired line of my own. And you never know. If the person hasn't ever heard them before, they will enjoy the witty retort. As the years go by, that possibility diminishes quite a bit. To replace those answers with a "happy" one will take an enormous effort on my part. After all, those other answers were crafted during 56 years of life. To come up with an equally witty, yet happy reply may be too much to ask for. Sadly, I don't have my greatest inspiration to look to for answers. Yeah, if anyone could come up with a great bullshit line on short notice, it was my dad. He was the master of the one liner. The only other person who could help me is my son, Shane. His line of bull has shown flashes of his grandpa that makes my skin get cold! I'll mine that fervid brain of his when he comes home tomorrow for Easter.

To the "How ya doin'" I could say "I'm so happy I could just fart." But farting in public is on my personal improvement agenda and talking about it makes 'em sneak out even more often. Well, eliminating a gassy, bloated feeling would make me a happier guy. How about when someone says "Have a good day" I just turn around and blow a tird whistle. Now THAT would make me happy!

So whether I'm "Happy Max" or "Max +" I don't care. To quote the guy in the e-mail "I couldn't be happier unless I was TWINS!"

Friday, February 19, 2010

"Mr. President, the Beauty and the Beast!"

Now that Jenny has made a recent blog entry, the pressure has been on my shoulders to produce. Since I'm no social trend setter or fashion icon, I can't impress you with my flair or style. Since I'm a guy, I don't usually carry a camera with me. Therefore, I'd make a crappy family historian. I'll leave that up to Jenny and Shannon. Besides, they're really, really good at it. Unlike Jenny and Shannon also, I'm not very crafty so I'm pretty useless when it comes to blogging about my creations. What's left is what I do best. I'll write about something I'm pretty much clueless about and make you believe that I'm an inspired genius. Its a standard formula that I've used ever since Jenny signed me up for AARP and I wrote that inspired entry about aging.

First off, a shout out to Bob. A good friend of ours got himself buggered up in a traffic accident a while back. Yeah, my fuzzy buddy from Jersey was clocked on his way to Atlantic City. He was on his way , as Jersey people put it, to "pay his state taxes"! He's laid up at home, missing work and probably running poor Barb ragged. Being a faithful reader of this blog also brings his intelligence into question. Knowing that he'll read this, probably before anyone else does, I would like to let him know that Jen and I are thinking about him (and poor, poor Barb!) and wishing that he recovers nicely, finds himself a heartless shyster and sues that bozo back to the stone age! Good luck, Bob, with everything and we hope to see you guys some time this year!

Now, for the meat of this entry. I would like to have dinner (along with my entire family) with the Obamas. Preferably in the White House. But hey, I'd settle for waffle night at IHOP! I feel that I have a lot to offer the President in ideas and solutions to the major problems of the day. Primarily though, I would like to meet the Obama family personally because I believe they are extraordinary people, displaying extraordinary courage in rescuing America from the abyss. Other people are mad at him because he hasn't worked miracles but I'm not. I understand that you can't walk through a chicken coop without getting a little crap on your shoes. I've always said that you take a true measure of a person's character, not how they act when everything is going good, but how they react when things don't go right. In the hardest of times, through the toughest of circumstances, President Obama has been a solid and reliable leader who has expended tons of political capital to do what it takes to stave off a depression, get America back to work with health care for all. The Republicans in Congress have been shameful in their obstructionism and shilling for big business. How they could want to go back to the policies that drove America to the brink of collapse is beyond me. I would be happy if Dick Cheney (with the emphasis on Dick) would get a tonguectomy and go hunting with Mitch McConnell and John Behner, if you know what I mean!

You see, these guys aren't needed to solve the major problems facing America. I've got the answers. You name it, I've figured it out!

Editor's note: I've just written a scintillating and riveting three pages solving such problems as universal health care, job creation, high speed rail and fixing social security. I've read that America's attention span has shortened to resemble that of a gnat's so I won't bore you with the details. Suffice it to say, my arguments were as powerful as Dick Cheney's smile!

So, if there is anyone in Washington or elsewhere reading this, tell the President that there's a guy in Garrett he really needs to meet! If any of you are rich and powerful, drop my name. I'm sure Sasha and Malia would just adore Jaden and Taylor! Since I'm planning on planting a garden this year, I could get some useful tips from the First Lady. I could give the President a couple tips on quitting smoking too. Put us up in the Lincoln Bedroom and Jenny could fix pancakes in the morning!

I've always tried to judge people, not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. Using this criteria, the Obamas are some of America's finest. Even those tea bagger and birther bozos have to agree that America couldn't have a more respectful first family. In his place, I would've slipped and said "eat shit" to someone by the end of the second day. The fact that he hasn't said it yet puts him right up there by Jenny in the tolerance department.

Yes, I would be honored and privileged to be invited to the White House, any time, any day. That's not the hard part. The tough work would be getting time off work to go!!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Party at Shannon's!!

January 9th will be the anniversary of one of the red letter days of my life. It was the day, in 1982, that my little "honey bunny" was born. Yes, my little Shannon will be 28 years old this year and she is having a blog party all day long on the 9th. Everyone is invited and use this link to check it out for yourself. If its anything like her other creative endeavors, then we are all in for a treat!!!

Monday, December 28, 2009

No more blaming the cat!!

I really do my best blogging on a long slow train with hours to sit and think. As the last entry illustrates, some trains are really long and really slow! That's why this entry is so rare. I'm still at home, enjoying my yearly year-end vacation. I have been working alot lately around the house and there's nothing on my agenda today so I'm freed up for this little journey into blogdom.

Why an entry today after all this time? I realized that the new year is upon us and its resolution time! As all guys realize very early in any relationship, there's always room for improvement. In order to be the perfect gentleman, vibrant and healthy, witty and urbane, and couth and civil by the time I reach retirement, adjustments must be started now. Other than that pesky blowing off farts in public resolution, I've done pretty well with my last year's resolutions. Get off my ass and exercise, check! Lose that gut, check! The previous two resolutions, to be honest with you, are made every year by any of us who aren't in shape. Along with the the quit smoking resolution, they are, in my case especially, prefaced with the words "Yeah, right!" It is with extreme pride that my resolutions this year will not have to include "Yeah, right!"

There are other resolutions I've made every year since I've turned 18 that are bunnies. Accomplishing them helped alleviate the sting from blowing off the major ones. They included:
1. Pledge not to drive a Corvette over 125 miles an hour.
2. Vow to wear dress shoes when visiting the White House.
3. Be determined to evacuate for the hurricanes and not ride them out, and
4. Only ride non-Arabian horses!

So, typically, at the end of the year when asked if I kept my resolutions, I would say, between coughs and bites of pizza, that yes, I've met most of my goals. That's why you don't let others make your resolutions for you. A few years ago, I could hear Jen "Quit smoking. Go on a diet. Get some exercise for God's sake!" I would wonder "How fun would that be?" (Actually, I'm taking literary license here because Jen has never nagged me about smoking or my weight, to her everlasting credit. As it turned out, nagging wasn't needed! Hear that wives?) That's why I'm being proactive with resolutions on the 28th. If I wait and let Jen set the agenda, then there won't be any gimmes.

Of course, there are people out there who come up with some pretty lame resolutions to give the impression that there isn't much improvement needed, thank-you! Some like: "I resolve to wear each pair of underwear on its proscribed day. I like Friday's pair best and sometimes I just have to wear them on Wednesday! (Yeah, yeah, yellow in front and brown in back and shut up!) or ... "Even though I love its taste best, this year I'll switch from 'Crest with Watermelon' to 'Tartar Control Crest'!" (Keep smoking that meth, bozo, and you won't have to worry about tooth past anyway!) How about... "This year I'm going to support 3 poor kids in the Philipines instead of only one." (How about the 6 you fathered while you were there in the Navy?) Yeah, New Year's resolutions are a way for the self-righteous to shove their goody-goody persona in your face.

I don't do that! (Yeah, right!) My resolutions this year will have some meat on them. It won't be like a 400 pound, 50 year-old witch making a celibacy pledge or the doofus in a condo vowing to trade in his riding mower on a push one. No, mine will be meaningful, relevant and honest self-improvement. So, without further adieu, here's my 2010 New Year's resolutions:

1. I will treat Republicans like they treat President Obama.
2. I will change my public farting policy that allow farts that can't be heard to only farts that can't be smelled.
3. When someone starts on me about anything political, I'll smile and say "I'm proud to be an American!"
4. When someone starts on me about religion, I'll smile and say "... and may God bless you and God bless the United States of America!"
5. Candy, cookies and chips are the Devil's handiwork! Treat them that way and avoid them entirely!
6. Try to cut down on portion sizes. I eat entirely too much. If I didn't exercise, lord knows where I'd be.
7. When people say that global warming is caused by cow farts, say my usual "Bullshit" UNDER my breath.
8. Vow to close all the kitchen cupboard doors before I leave the kitchen. If that means quitting doing the dishes, well sometimes you have to take one for the team.
9. When my favorite sports team does the big choke, whine about it private, alone. Text whining is OK as long as the textee is probably whining too. and...
10, I'll try to quit making all those high crime and mob references about New Jersey. But Fuzzy, if New Jersey is the Garden State, what are they growing in Camden and Newark?

Ah, I feel like a better man already and I've still got 3 days of debauchery before these resolutions kick in!