Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Starting to pack up shop ...

Tonight I took the dozens upon dozens of cards I received from all my friends and family while going through cancer down from my apartment walls. Not because I longer appreciate them - hardly. (They'll all be saved.) But because I thought it a nice first step, mostly symbolic, toward packing up and finally moving out of this apartment. I'm not moving immediately soon - heck, I haven't even starting looking for a new place (I'll be buying something) - I just wanted to get the ball rolling. I've been chomping at the bit to get out of here.

See, when I moved to Portland in November of 2007, I got this apartment with the plan that I'd be here only a year. Now, 40 months later, I'm finally able to leave. I was about to start looking when I got diagnosed last year, and I resigned myself to staying for another year. The last thing I needed to do when I getting hit with that news was to make a long-term financial commitment. I was much more focused on more immediate concerns - like staying ALIVE.

With my prognosis looking good, it's time to move on. Moving out of here also just ties in nicely with the way various aspects of my life are tying up - finishing up cancer treatment, Tahoe passing, etc. I'm really looking forward to new beginnings and feel more excited about the future than I've felt in a very long time, including long before getting diagnosed, and moving into a new place that I plan on really settling into is just what I need.


The irrigation continues to work for me. This is as good as it's ever going to get for me, or for anyone with a colostomy. And you know what - it's acceptable. If I say it's awesome or great, that's all relative to where I was right after surgery, when my self-perception was completely shot and I was adjusting to the whole thing. I'd love much more to have my body fully restored to it's pre-cancerous state, but that's not gonna happen in this life time, so this will have to do.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Got my one year colonoscopy in two weeks. I'd be lying if I weren't starting to get a little anxious about it.

Some good news though - my latest blood test shows my CEA levels are still normal (1 ng/mL).

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Irrigation, pt. 3

I never finished talking about my irrigation trials, did I? Well, I'm about two weeks into it and I think it's great. Of course, great is all relative. Is it great that I'm sitting on the can an hour each morning forcing my large intestine to spill its guts (so to speak)? No, not really. But getting ass cancer isn't great either, and you're grateful for the silver linings to the ass cancer clouds when you can find them.

But the investment of irrigation is well worth it. I ran out of my trial sample of irrigation sleeves (think a water slide for waste to ride down from my stoma to the toilet) the WOC (wound/ostomy/continence) nurses gave me after about a week and had to fall back to the old routine. I much more prefer irrigating. It is so nice having your stoma quiet all day long. For 23 hours out of the day, you'd never know you're any different.

And, as an extra bonus, I learned that when I ran out of sleeves, I went *two days* without needing a bag. If that's what my body can pull off on a regular basis, once it's been trained in the irrigation arts, that would be fan-freaking-tastic. I think that could actually make some stoma-less people jealous. Poop once every other day and that's it? Sign me up!


Awfully quiet around here with Tahoe. Tough to adjust to the absence of a companion who was so woven into the fabric of your everyday life.

Friday, April 15, 2011


My 14-yr. old labrador, Tahoe, passed away this morning. Ugh. What a terrible day. His health had been declining for quite some time, but this week things accelerated until this morning's end. But, he hung on to get me through cancer treatment, something I'll always be grateful for.

He was a great dog and I'm gonna miss the hell outta him.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

More Adventures in #2.

A little over 24 hours into it, and I think I'm going to like this irrigation thing. After yesterday morning's "cleansing," the stoma kept quiet for most of the day. A little bit of a gas, and a little bit of solids later in the day, but there really wasn't a whole lot. Nice. I enjoyed going through most of the day without any stoma activity. Made me feel more ... normal. Sure, it's an illusion - you're forcing your bowels to empty every morning, which isn't a visually or olfactory pleasant affair, but once that's done it seems like you're good for the rest of the day. Anything I can do to trick myself into forgetting about my condition for most of the day or to feeling like I did before I had cancer, I'm game.

Irrigation training session #2 went pretty well. I took over some of the steps, and it was pretty straightforward stuff. You fill up a big plastic bag of about a liter to a liter and a half of water, stick a little funnel in the stoma, open up a valve to let the water run from the bag into your large intestine, get all bloated up, and once you're "full," you pull the funnel out and ... well, I'll let your imagination fill in the details of what happens next. 45 minutes or so later, everything is out that's going to come out (you can kinda feel when things have all emptied out) and you go on your merry way.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Saw Natalie, my kick-ass ostomy nurse this morning for part one in a three-part series on training me to irrigate my large intestine. Basically, irrigation is giving yourself an enema every day. It clean out the large intestine well enough that you don't have to wear bags all day long. Well, more accurately put, you don't have to worry about swapping out bags during the day - you still have to wear a little something, a "cap," because there's still a little bit of mucus that naturally comes out that you don't want to get on your clothes.

It takes about 45 minutes to an hour to do, and it went fine. Curious to see whether I find the pros (no output means no accidents during the day) vs the cons (time spent doing this).

We'll see ...