My Favorite Songs From 1993

Posted: December 13, 2017 in Rankings

In 1993 I finished high school and started at the University of Guelph. I turned 19 that April, legal drinking age in Ontario. I was still into Classic Rock, with a lot of Tragically Hip on the playlist. But I was also exposed to Alternative/Grunge and was starting to appreciate it. By the time 1995 began, I was completely into that music. But it was a transition that took a couple of years and I never did lose my love of classic rock. While I got into the Hip album of 1993 (Fully Completely), and Kravitz and Pearl Jam…many of the Alternative songs from that year I got into in ’94. Including ‘Shine’, which to this day is still one of my favorite songs of all time.

 

Unlike most rankings, I haven’t been simply tossing these up in a numerical order. Because we can all agree that on some days, some songs kick more ass than other songs. A song that is ranked 14th today could very well rank 1st tomorrow – if it suddenly comes on the radio during the perfect moment and I start singing along. So I group them instead of presenting a hard-and-fast order:

Awesome
Great
Pretty Good
Not Bad
…with some inter-group splitting.

 

Awesome – 1 Shine Collective Soul
Awesome – 1 Believe Lenny Kravitz
Awesome – 1 All Apologies Nirvana
Awesome – 1 Pennyroyal Tea Nirvana
Awesome – 1 Daughter Pearl Jam
Awesome – 1 Cherub Rock Smashing Pumpkins
Awesome – 1 Pigeon Camera The Tragically Hip
Awesome – 1 Mary Jane’s Last Dance Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
Awesome – 9 Low Cracker
Awesome – 9 Laid James
Awesome – 9 Are You Gonna Go My Way Lenny Kravitz
Awesome – 9 Dumb Nirvana
Awesome – 9 Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town Pearl Jam
Awesome – 9 Creep Radiohead
Great – 15 The Sign Ace of Base
Great – 15 Mr. Jones Counting Crows
Great – 15 Come Undone Duran Duran
Great – 15 Ordinary World Duran Duran
Great – 15 Linger The Cranberries
Great – 15 Courage (For Hugh MacLennan) The Tragically Hip
Great – 15 We’ll Go To The Tragically Hip
Great – 15 At the Hundredth Meridian The Tragically Hip
Great – 15 Can’t Help Falling In Love UB40
Great – 24 All That She Wants Ace of Base
Great – 24 Heart-Shaped Box Nirvana
Great – 24 Soul to Squeeze Red Hot Chili Peppers
Great – 24 Disarm Smashing Pumpkins
Great – 24 Today Smashing Pumpkins
Great – 29 Two Steps Behind Def Leppard
Great – 29 Hey Jealousy Gin Blossoms
Great – 29 Come to My Window Melissa Etheridge
Great – 29 I’m the Only One Melissa Etheridge
Great – 29 Rape Me Nirvana
Great – 29 Glorified G Pearl Jam
Great – 29 Dissident Pearl Jam
Great – 29 All I Wanna Do Sheryl Crow
Great – 29 Dreams The Cranberries
Great – 29 She Don’t Use Jelly The Flaming Lips
Great – 29 Eldorado The Tragically Hip
Pretty Good – 40 More 13 Engines
Pretty Good – 40 Amazing Aerosmith
Pretty Good – 40 Crazy Aerosmith
Pretty Good – 40 Cryin’ Aerosmith
Pretty Good – 40 Asshole Dennis Leary
Pretty Good – 40 Sister Lenny Kravitz
Pretty Good – 40 Rearviewmirror Pearl Jam
Pretty Good – 40 Cannonball The Breeders
Pretty Good – 40 The River The Tea Party
Pretty Good – 40 Looking For a Place To Happen The Tragically Hip
Pretty Good – 40 Lionized The Tragically Hip
Pretty Good – 40 Fully Completely The Tragically Hip
Pretty Good – 40 Fifty Mission Cap The Tragically Hip
Pretty Good – 40 Sober Tool
Pretty Good – 54 Livin’ On The Edge Aerosmith
Pretty Good – 54 Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm Crash Test Dummies
Pretty Good – 54 Heaven Help Lenny Kravitz
Pretty Good – 54 My Love Lenny Kravitz
Pretty Good – 54 Animal Pearl Jam
Pretty Good – 54 Strong Enough Sheryl Crow
Pretty Good – 54 Numb U2
Pretty Good – 61 Found Out About You Gin Blossoms
Pretty Good – 61 Will You Remember Me Jann Arden
Pretty Good – 61 Go Pearl Jam
Pretty Good – 61 Rats Pearl Jam
Pretty Good – 61 Indifference Pearl Jam
Pretty Good – 61 Shoop Salt-N-Pepa
Pretty Good – 61 Whatta Man Salt-N-Pepa
Pretty Good – 61 Who Do You Think You Are Sass Jordan
Pretty Good – 61 Oh Carolina Shaggy
Pretty Good – 61 Rocket Smashing Pumpkins
Pretty Good – 61 Love Doesn’t Live Here Anymore Sven Gali
Not Bad – 72 Keep Ya Head Up 2Pac
Not Bad – 72 5 Days In May Blue Rodeo
Not Bad – 72 Round Here Counting Crows
Not Bad – 72 The Wherewithal The Tragically Hip
Not Bad – 76 No Apologies Alanis Morissette
Not Bad – 76 What a Good Boy Barenaked Ladies
Not Bad – 76 The River Of Dreams Billy Joel
Not Bad – 76 Rain King Counting Crows
Not Bad – 76 Mr. Vain Culture Beat
Not Bad – 76 Man on a Mission Hemingway Corner
Not Bad – 76 That’s The Way Love Goes Janet Jackson
Not Bad – 76 Lost In Your Eyes Jeff Healey Band
Not Bad – 76 Long May You Run Neil Young
Not Bad – 76 W.M.A. Pearl Jam
Not Bad – 76 Leash Pearl Jam
Not Bad – 76 Gin And Juice Snoop Dogg
Not Bad – 88 Harvest Moon Neil Young
Not Bad – 88 Prairie Town Randy Bachman
Not Bad – 88 Nobody’s Hero Rush
Not Bad – 88 Goin’ Back Again Sass Jordan
Not Bad – 88 Informer Snow
Not Bad – 88 It’s Probably Me Sting
Not Bad – 88 Whoomp! There It Is Tag Team
Not Bad – 88 Rise Again The Rankin Family
Not Bad – 88 Another Night The Real McCoy
Not Bad – 88 Breathe Again Toni Braxton
Not Bad – 88 Bedrock Anthem Weird Al Yankovic

 

1990       1991      1992      1993

1960s          1970s          1980s          1990s

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The Good…

I got the results back from my bone marrow biopsy. Blast count was at or below 1%, which is excellent (and expected). I don’t have cancer right now.

 

The Bad…

I developed a fever and over this past week you can add a sore throat to that too. The former is concerning because my body is clearly unable to fight it on its own. We’ve later determined that it’s related to the swollen lymph node in my neck. The latter is concerning because it hurts like hell, peaking at Day +78. It impacts not only my desire to do things (like get off the sofa), but also my outlook on life and this battle.

As of Day +80, the fever is gone and sore throat is mostly gone. Likely due to the increase in anti-viral meds and the addition of new anti-biotics. On Tuesday, Day +76, I went to emergency at Toronto General Hospital. I was already there for a CT scan (looking at the lymph node and all lymph nodes in my abdomen) so I just to emerg from there. The ear/neck/throat people looked at the lymph node and told me they wanted another biopsy on it and do a full work-up. From what they’ve seen, it’s a cyst in my neck under my jaw with several lymph nodes attached to it. I suspect I’ll finally get some action on it next week and that it will be gone in 15-20 days. Maybe I can start Day +100 with the same positivity that I had in the first 50 days (but have since lost).

 

The Ugly…

My Day +30 Chimerism test showed that 97.9% of my cells are from my donor and that’s great. The goal is to have that above 95.0% so mission accomplished. However, my Day +60 Chimerism test saw this number drop to 87.3%. My cells are elbowing out the donor’s. Dr. Santosh doesn’t see it that way, though he’s admittedly concerned. But that’s how I see it. What he wants to see is the Day +90 test results before he’ll consider it a trend. He suggests that it’s possible that it goes back up a little. One of things that he would do in response would be to get some lymphcites from the donor, presumably so the donor’s white blood cells can get in there and fight. At any rate, Santosh believes that there are plenty of things that can be done if a trend is indeed spotted. But I can’t say that the news from this Day +60 test wasn’t a blow to me. Added to the fact that I received the news while feeling like shit, and I wasn’t in a good way.

As I write this today on Day +80 I feel better physically and – no surprise – my outlook has improved too. That’s why they call it a “cancer fight” I guess, instead of a “cancer walk in the park”.

 

 

The Journey to Day +100

Posted: November 7, 2017 in The Battle Against MDS

Today is Day +69

Between my last update (Day +30) to today, my progress has been moving forward in leaps and bounces. To wit:

  • I gradually eased my workouts up to 40 minutes on the treadmill and eased the speed up slightly and incline up slightly. As well, I increased the length of time I held 10-pound dumbbells while on the treadmill to over 15 minutes. Also did 42 situps before starting. Key is to start low and add a minute and one situp each day.
  • Eating is normal
  • Weight gain up to 207, so five pounds since release
  • Released from the blood transfusion unit weekly visits, and would start at the regular transplant clinic.
  • Discussed removing my Hickman line
  • Breathing finally felt normal. Deep breaths had felt slightly burning…almost like a heartburn.
  • Chimerism results came back and it says that 97.9% of my blood cells are from the donor. The target was to get above 95%.
  • Hair alert! Getting localized growth on my chin and moustache. A shame I can’t grow a full beard yet, but maybe I can pretend it’s 2002 and just grow a goatee

 

Of concern:

  • Still have some redness around the Hickman line
  • Super light pigmentation under armpits and around groin

 

The Big Bump in the Road

No sooner had all this moved forward when…my lymph node swelled up quickly and painfully. On Day +60, the node under my jaw on the right side towards my ear started to swell. By Day +61 it had swelled up considerably. No other nodes did this. It was painful enough to disrupt my sleep.

Since I was going in on Day +62 for a bone marrow biopsy (hopefully my last?) anyway, we waited until then for the doctor to take a look. Doc put me on antibiotics and said I could take Advil to help with the pain. Antibiotics did nothing. The node has hardened. And now they have me on new antibiotics that are sent through my Hickman line and require me to walk around with a bag and pump. Looks like it’s viral though, and Dr. Santosh figured it could be similar to the virus that leads to mononucleosis.

Anyway, workouts have stopped. It’s been nine days since my last workout. I feel soft. I feel like recovery has been paused. And I don’t like that because I like to push forward. But all I can do is wait. The wait could be a few weeks.

On Thursday, Day +71, I ‘could’ get the results of my bone marrow biopsy from last week. It should say that I don’t have cancer. And as long as my blood counts remain normal going forward – I will never have a bone marrow biopsy again. Last week’s was my seventh, and I’d say it was the second easiest. Just grit your teeth and bare it, don’t give the doc a reason to hesitate – he/she needs to just get in there quickly and get it done.

 

Anyway. Will update when I have something to update.

Dobber

My favorite songs from 1992

Posted: October 25, 2017 in Rankings

As I reviewed this year it became clear that in terms of music, this was a ho-hum year. I was 18 years old and by this point I was well into Classic Rock and only just getting started with Alternative Rock and Grunge. Only a couple of dozen songs I’d consider as “Great” or “Awesome” with the bulk of the songs merely “Not Bad”. And of those great songs, many of them I got into in future years. Alice in Chains I didn’t get into for another five years. I did like STP, The Black Crowes and of course The Hip right away but even Soul Asylum and Rage took me a couple of years to appreciate. And Nirvana’s Sliver I didn’t get introduced to for another decade. Clearly, 1992 was still heavily Classic Rock when it comes to my personal history of music. You can also see some of the local “Buck and Doe” music here, with several country music entries.

Unlike most rankings, I haven’t been simply tossing these up in a numerical order. Because I know better than anybody that on some days, some songs kick more ass than other songs. A song that is ranked 14th today could very well rank 1st tomorrow, if it suddenly comes on the radio during the perfect moment and I start singing along. You understand. So I group them instead of presenting a hard-and-fast order:

Awesome
Great
Pretty Good
Not Bad
…with inter-group splitting.

 

Awesome – 1 Down In A Hole Alice in Chains
Awesome – 1 Plush Stone Temple Pilots
Awesome – 1 Locked in the Trunk of a Car The Tragically Hip
Awesome – 4 What’s Up 4 Non Blondes
Awesome – 4 Rooster Alice in Chains
Awesome – 4 Lost Together Blue Rodeo
Awesome – 4 Just Another Day Jon Secada
Awesome – 4 Yellow Ledbetter Pearl Jam
Awesome – 4 Everybody Hurts R.E.M.
Awesome – 4 Killing in the Name Rage Against the Machine
Awesome – 4 Creep Stone Temple Pilots
Awesome – 4 Remedy The Black Crowes
Awesome – 4 Wheat Kings The Tragically Hip
Great – 14 Bed Of Roses Bon Jovi
Great – 14 Tears In Heaven Eric Clapton
Great – 14 Nightswimming R.E.M.
Great – 14 Runaway Train Soul Asylum
Great – 14 Rain Down On Me Blue Rodeo
Great – 14 Layla (Unplugged) Eric Clapton
Great – 14 Sliver Nirvana
Great – 14 State of Love and Trust Pearl Jam
Great – 22 Brother Alice in Chains
Great – 22 Enid Barenaked Ladies
Great – 22 If I Had $1000000 Barenaked Ladies
Great – 22 So What’cha Want Beastie Boys
Great – 22 No Rain Blind Melon
Great – 22 Drive R.E.M.
Great – 22 Nearly Lost You Screaming Trees
Great – 22 Hotel Illness The Black Crowes
Pretty Good – 30 Nice to Luv You 54-40
Pretty Good – 30 She-La 54-40
Pretty Good – 30 Angry Chair Alice in Chains
Pretty Good – 30 Brian Wilson Barenaked Ladies
Pretty Good – 30 Black Or White Michael Jackson
Pretty Good – 30 Man On the Moon R.E.M.
Pretty Good – 30 Wake Up Rage Against the Machine
Pretty Good – 30 Dead & Bloated Stone Temple Pilots
Pretty Good – 30 Lovers in a Dangerous Time Barenaked Ladies
Pretty Good – 30 Bad Luck Blue Eyes The Black Crowes
Pretty Good – 40 Would? Alice in Chains
Pretty Good – 40 Try Not To Breathe R.E.M.
Pretty Good – 40 Sex Type Thing Stone Temple Pilots
Pretty Good – 40 Thorn In My Pride The Black Crowes
Pretty Good – 40 No Regrets Tom Cochrane
Not Bad – 45 I’m In A Hurry (And Don’t Know Why) Alabama
Not Bad – 45 Achy Breaky Heart Billy Ray Cyrus
Not Bad – 45 Mr. Wendal Arrested Development
Not Bad – 45 People Everyday Arrested Development
Not Bad – 45 Tennessee Arrested Development
Not Bad – 45 Pass the Mic Beastie Boys
Not Bad – 45 Human Touch Bruce Springsteen
Not Bad – 45 Teen Angst (What the World Needs Now) Cracker
Not Bad – 45 How Do You Talk To An Angel Jamie Walters
Not Bad – 45 America Kim Mitchell
Not Bad – 45 Make You a Believer Sass Jordan
Not Bad – 45 I Want to Believe Sass Jordan
Not Bad – 45 Wicked Garden Stone Temple Pilots
Not Bad – 45 My Morning Song The Black Crowes
Not Bad – 45 Time Will Tell The Black Crowes
Not Bad – 45 Rump Shaker Wreckx N Effect
Not Bad – 45 Scenario A Tribe Called Quest
Not Bad – 45 Let’s Get Rocked Def Leppard
Not Bad – 45 Free Your Mind En Vogue
Not Bad – 45 Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangsta Geto Boys
Not Bad – 45 Beautiful Girl INXS
Not Bad – 45 Aneurysm Nirvana
Not Bad – 45 Digging In The Dirt Peter Gabriel
Not Bad – 45 The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite R.E.M.
Not Bad – 45 Bullet In The Head Rage Against the Machine
Not Bad – 45 Black Gold Soul Asylum
Not Bad – 45 Where The River Goes Stone Temple Pilots
Not Bad – 45 Sinking Like a Sunset Tom Cochrane
Not Bad – 73 Song Instead of a Kiss Alannah Myles
Not Bad – 73 Baby Doll Big House
Not Bad – 73 Change Blind Melon
Not Bad – 73 End of the Road Boyz II Men
Not Bad – 73 Great Big Love Bruce Cockburn
Not Bad – 73 Would I Lie To You Charles & Eddie
Not Bad – 73 Nuthin’ But A G Thang Dr. Dre
Not Bad – 73 What Is Love Haddaway
Not Bad – 73 Jump Around House of Pain
Not Bad – 73 Bad Girl Madonna
Not Bad – 73 Rain Madonna
Not Bad – 73 This Used To Be My Playground Madonna
Not Bad – 73 Harvest Moon Neil Young
Not Bad – 73 Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough Patty Smyth and Don Henley
Not Bad – 73 Steam Peter Gabriel
Not Bad – 73 Monty Got A Raw Deal R.E.M.
Not Bad – 73 Go Back to Your Woods Robbie Robertson
Not Bad – 73 You Don’t Have to Remind Me Sass Jordan
Not Bad – 73 Rhythm Is A Dancer Snap!
Not Bad – 73 Sting Me The Black Crowes
Not Bad – 73 Black Moon Creeping The Black Crowes
Not Bad – 73 No Speak No Slave The Black Crowes
Not Bad – 73 Sometimes Salvation The Black Crowes
Not Bad – 73 Friday I’m In Love The Cure
Not Bad – 73 Washed Away Tom Cochrane
Not Bad – 73 Crucify Tori Amos
Not Bad – 73 Smells Like Nirvana Weird Al Yankovic
Not Bad – 73 I Will Always Love You Whitney Houston

 

1990       1991

1960s          1970s          1980s          1990s

As I approach the four-year anniversary of cutting the cable (i.e. canceling my satellite subscription), I started musing about what it would take to bring me back.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m completely happy with status quo. I have the NHL Centre Ice package, and anything else I need I simply stream it. The kids are happy with Netflix and don’t seem to be in need of anything more, and ditto for my wife. It would appear that, on this issue, I’m in the driver’s seat.

So what would it take?

The Big 2 Canadian companies will fight to the death for status quo. They’ll try to change the laws.  Even at the expense of free speech. As long as it makes money. They’ll fight any new laws that try to make things just a tiny bit fair for consumers.

Since my main wish – of just wanting the greed to stop – will never come true, I’ve come up with an alternative list of things.

  1. I don’t want “deals”. I don’t want $50 a month for a year and then regular price ($75 a month? More?) to kick in after that. I just want a fair number. I’d rather pay $65 per month right from the get-go and lasting forever, than get a deal in that first year. Stop it. It’s not done overseas and no, Canadians don’t like it. They agree to it because you don’t give them an option. And your stupid ‘closing’ sales pitch of “well, you can just call after that first year and get them to extend the deal” is annoying bullshit. Compete with each other based on your regular price, rather than requiring consumers to hire a math major to decipher how these “deals” will shake out.
  2. Let me pick and pay for each channel. Charge me $6 for the most popular channels (per month) and $2 for the least popular, with everything else falling in between. I would come back. And I know thousands would also come back. I would probably pick out 15 channels that I’d pay for (and likely add more as time goes by). You’d be getting $60 per month from me – and that’s $60 more than you’re getting now.

Right now, ‘apparently’, Network providers have to offer a basic package and then after that we can pick for each channel after that. But take a look at how it’s presented!

https://residential.rogers.com/ontario/tv

Wow.

“Take our Popular Package” right now and get this list of channels. Or…

“Take our Better Bundle” right now and get this list of channels.

Oh, and by the way…you can get the basic package and pick your channels…but for details on that you have to call this number.

Just…wow. Still trying to stick to the old dinosaur way of doing business and pigeonhole consumers into your stupid packages. The ones where TSN is in one package, and Sportsnet is in another…and therefore getting both costs double. Where getting TSN requires you to also get the Ballet Network and getting Sportsnet means you must get the Cooking Channel. And if you want to pick by the channel, as per the new law…then you have to actually call us so we can talk you out of it. Likely by offering you a deal*.

(*deal expires in one year)

Keep playing your games, Rogers and Bell. And I’ll hang onto my money. It’s here for you when you want it. Just simply wake up to 2017. Change your business model. You have thousands, no – hundreds of thousands – of consumers waiting to sign up, and probably for about the same money you’d get from them anyway. All you have to do is let the 60- and 70-year old dinosaurs who are running the company under the old dynamic with their old-fashioned 1995 ideas to retire into the sunset and let the 30- and 40-year-olds who are aware that it’s 2017 to take things over.

We can stream now. You can’t stop it. And fighting it is an unending and costly battle. We can choose our shows and choose our time to watch them. Not ‘some’ shows with strings attached (such as having ‘other’ shows forced on us). But any show, any time.

So let us pick the channels. No “basic” package to start. No “access” fees. No “introductory price”. Nothing else. Just pick the channels. Yes, the less-popular channels will die. That’s capitalism.

Capitalism. You’re seeing it at work here as you lose more and more subscribers each month. How long will you fight it? Keep your head in the sand, grandma and grandpa.

http://www.businessinsider.com/cable-tv-subscriber-losses-q2-chart-2017-6

http://fortune.com/2017/06/15/netflix-more-subscribers-than-cable/

http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/cord-cutting-convergence-group-1.4075486

 

The wrong way to deal with the above news (see links): “Hey, let’s offer better bundles!” or… “Hey, let’s call our competitor’s subscribers and offer them an introductory deal!” or… “Hey, let’s see if we can change the CRTC law to help prevent streaming!” or… “Hey, let’s see if we can get the law involved and fight piracy!”

Wake up, grandma and grandpa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Discharged! (Part 2)

Posted: September 29, 2017 in The Battle Against MDS

On Day +17 the doctor lifted isolation. Of course, on Day +15 my wife was sick and we couldn’t risk her bringing the kids to the hospital to see me (outside of my wing, of course, since the kids aren’t allowed in that wing of the hospital). But she was better the next day, and we gave it another day to be sure it was completely gone and not contagious, she brought the kids to the hospital on Day +18, a Sunday. We had a great reunion! Amazing hugs. And a really fun time in the 14th floor lounge that we pretty much had to ourselves.

On Day +19 I was discharged from the hospital. It had to be some sort of record because I was informed by the 15th floor doctor that I could be in there for six weeks. And even when I checked in I was told 26-40 days. In all it was 24 days.

I was lucky (knock on wood). So far (knock on wood) I have been at the happy end of every window they gave me. I had an 80% chance of a fever a couple of days after the transplant (didn’t happen). The blood counts would start to rise between Day +14 and Day +21 (it was Day +14). I would get mouth sores (oral mucositis) between Day +7 and Day +10 and it would last until the counts started going up (I got it Day +10 thanks to frequent frequent mouth rinsing). Only once out of about 100 temperature measures did I reach the 37 degree mark, peaking briefly at 37.5. Otherwise it was always 36.xx degrees even to this day. I never lost my appetite (though with the mucositis I was unable to eat – I still wanted to). I never vomited. I was told I would lose my hair between Day +11 and Day +18. It started Day +18 and I never did lose my eyebrows.

 

So what’s ahead?

Right now I’m going to the hospital twice per week for blood checks. So far so good. They even reduced my magnesium to three pills per day and the cyclosporine to four per day. I asked again about my three-year survival rate, but an updated one based on my current date. Doc just said to take it milestone by milestone. Milestones are: Day +30, Day +60, Day +100, Day +180 and 1-year.

My three biggest risks, as I see it, are (in order):

  1. Infection. I was told about a guy last year who was fine until the six-month mark, then he caught an infection and was dead in a couple of weeks. I can fight most infections (more, as time goes by) with the help of the hospital. But not all of them. Right now my immunity is strong for bacteria, but still very week for viruses and fungi. My immunity is like an infant. So I need all my shots again (gradually). After a year, I’ll be mostly out of the woods for this risk. Though anything can happen.
  2. Cancer, the return. This one, if it happens, mostly likely happens 4-6 months after the transplant but is a risk all the way up three years and beyond. Though the longer it goes, the better the odds that it won’t return. Fighting it again – I could go through the same process, or I could do clinical trials. Depends on when it returns. The longer it takes to return, the more likely I would just do the same process (hey, if it bought me five years…then doing it again to buy me another five sounds good).
  3. Graft vs. Host disease. I need this, to some extent. I need some minor battle between my cells and my donor’s. But it can’t be too much. Too much would lead to side effects ranging from rashes to serious infection. Too little could lead to the cancer coming back. So I guess this kind of relates to 1 and 2 above.

I also have some rules that I need to follow/things that I must give up for now:

  1. Driving. Just until I’m done with the cyclosporine (about two months).
  2. Drinking. After I’m done going to the hospital twice per week and I’m down to once per week, I will allow myself a beer or two on a Saturday night. But for now I can’t mess with the blood counts (specifically liver).
  3. Raw food. Again, just for a couple of months. No dipping eggs. No medium-rare steak. Those are the two things I miss the most.

Well, that’s my update. It’s great to be home and see the kids and hang with the wife. It’s great to be back at work, too.

 

I’m offended! Fire him or I’ll…

Posted: September 13, 2017 in Rant

Why is society’s first reaction to political incorrectness/brain fart always “Fire him (or her)! Or I’ll stop buying your product/watching your show/supporting your cause!”? You do realize that there are other options and punishments available, right?

Do people stop and think about what firing a person means? Loss of livelihood, stress in a marriage, loss of income – often impacting future earning in future work, depression, or even loss of life itself. Do angry people understand this? A person says something that is horribly offensive. Unforgivable. Completely off-base. But 99 times out of 100 would never say such a thing. He or she, for one micro-second, thought it would be a funny joke. Or misspoke. Or perhaps he or she even truly felt that way (racist, sexist, homophobic, etc). Does that one statement, sometimes only offensive if you truly dig into the details and twist it a certain way but usually is pretty obvious, warrant the loss of their job? One statement out of 10,000 statements carried out over a five, 10 or 20-year career (or longer) offends and – “oh you gotta fire that guy. Fire him!”?

Let me ask you this. Would a two-week suspension plus several months of weekly sensitivity training address the problem? Or do we need to go straight to firing?

We all know someone who has been fired. How did it impact that person? Do you know someone who has been fired since turning 30 (when the life path is often somewhat established)? I do. I know someone close to me who was fired from a job that they dearly loved in a sector that they wanted to stay in for life. This person was fired based on a angry, absolutely fuming person who insisted on the firing or their business will be taken elsewhere.

What resulted was a downward spiral unlike anything I’ve ever seen. After weeks of dwelling in worsening depression, there was a suicide attempt. Two months later there was another one. There was a full year of trying to find a job in the same field with no job to be had. Slim pickings in that sector in that particular year. So a job in another sector was taken. For less money. Suddenly rent was a struggle.

Doesn’t make it any easier to come out of that depression, does it? I won’t continue listing the events that happened because you get the idea – one bad thing resulted in another, which impacted another, etc. This person is happy now with a good job in yet another sector and everything is great. But essentially three years of this person’s life was filled with misery, or 10% of this person’s time on this Earth – gone. And it could have literally been gone – for good – had either suicide attempt worked.

All because a person went straight to “fire” instead of “suspend” or “written up” or even “give me a discount”! Just – fire this person, or else.

Why do we do that?

I’ve often mused about this over the years and lately it’s starting to really bother me. Recently a Georgia cop told a terribly offensive joke. Really stupid statement. “We only kill black people” he said to a Caucasian woman who was terrified at being pulled over. I don’t guess to be in the cop’s mind, but I’m pretty certain he didn’t honestly believe that he and other cops only kill black people. He made a tasteless joke to calm a woman down and if he has any good in him at all then he regretted it as soon as he said it. Obviously a person in authority, or any person, absolutely should not imply killing of any sort let alone singling out one race like that. Especially in the current racial climate in that particular area. This officer was on the job for 28 years and had no record of saying racist comments. Is it possible for us to chalk this up to a very nasty, regrettable brain fart? Or we must go straight to firing?

Citizens and media alike were clamoring for him to be fired and when the Chief announced that he would be, the “black community leaders…applauded (the Chief’s) commitment”. So…that was the only route to go in order for you to “applaud” the action?

He’s in his late 40’s. Is he married? Kids? Just what would be destroyed here? (Note: the officer retired, so he technically didn’t get fired, but that veers from my point). Could it lead to straining the marriage? Kid’s college fund? One stupid sentence, a bad joke. And that’s the punishment that fits?

Let me offer an alternative. Three week’s of unpaid suspension. The entire staff of policemen at that location attend a sensitivity class. The officer himself must attend this class weekly for two months. Ten hours of community service helping under-privileged black children. Would the “black community leaders” applaud this? Or a man’s life must possibly be destroyed instead?

Today was the straw that broke the camel’s back. ESPN and Jemelle Hill. Hill is the co-host of one of their Sports Center programs, but on her Twitter she doesn’t just Tweet about sports. She tweeted about Donald Trump:

“Trump is the most ignorant, offensive president of my lifetime. His rise is a direct result of white supremacy. Period.”

“He has surrounded himself with white supremacists — no they are not “alt right” — and you want me to believe he isn’t a white supremacist?”

“He is unqualified and unfit to be president. He is not a leader. And if he were not white, he never would have been elected”

All the Trump-backers came out in droves. The White House Press Secretary called this a “fireable offense”. The right-leaning users on Twitter were frothing at the mouth: “fire her or I’ll never watch ESPN SC again”.

Are the statements appropriate on Hill’s Twitter account? Given that she built her 600K+ followers as a result of the media company she works for (had she been a lawyer, would she have an audience of 600K to hear her political opinion?) I would say that it’s not. She should have a personal Twitter account for those things. Just like I have this blog for my personal rants, rather than rant on DobberHockey.

Should she be fired? Should you threaten removing your business if she’s not? Let’s see…you and 100,000 others pressure ESPN to fire her and they do. Do you feel better? The sad thing is – you probably would feel better. And then within 24 hours you would forget about it.

Meanwhile, she’s unemployed. No income, and likely no chance of landing something in that field for at least a year because any hiring would result in the angry Internet people raising a stink. So then perhaps she finds something local. Like city news on the local TV channel or perhaps radio. Meanwhile there’s stress, anxiety, and her personal situation. Does she have a boyfriend? Is it serious? Does this anxiety gradually end that?

Would something more fitting be, I don’t know, ESPN have her remove the Tweets? Could the haters say “ESPN – have her remove the offending Tweets or I won’t watch SC again” instead of “ESPN – fire her or I won’t watch SC again”?

In today’s world, with social media prevalent as it is, people get heard. The problem is, within an hour 100,000 people can be heard. And they’re angry. And that means there is a lot of pressure to comply. With that in mind, knowing that the company just might do it, can we stop with the knee-jerk “FIRE HIM”? Calm down. Think about what firing means. And instead insist on discipline, not firing.

 

 

I checked back into the hospital on Thursday, August 24th but I was able to get back out and have dinner with my wife and kids. Chemo started on August 25th on what is called Day -5. However, the chemo was very tame and so I was able to have a day pass Friday. Ditto for Saturday.

Saturday I went to watch my daughter’s final baseball game and I barely made it in time. I should have been late – and stopped off to buy sunscreen. Oops. And then I raced from there to the soccer field where my other daughter played her last soccer game. Needless to say I got sunburnt. Not good (or smart) when you’re getting radiation in three days.

The chemo after that was too much to get a day pass (Sunday/Monday). On Tuesday I got radiation. Neither were big deals. I felt nauseous, but didn’t vomit.

Wednesday I got my donor’s stem cells:

stem cells

Kind of anti-climatic, right? Just a bag of lighter-colored blood. And it took about 45 minutes to give to me through the Hickman line.

After that it was several days of slowly dropping blood counts. I didn’t need my first blood transfusion until Day +5. My temperature remained below 37 degrees through today (Day +12).

On the night of Day +9 I had the worst pain felt in either hospital stay. Oral Mucositis.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mucositis

It was centered around my throat/back of my mouth and not even a double dose of morphine and a numbing rinse could help it. Kept me up for four hours. I finally slept and when I awakened, the mucositis seemed to move away from the throat and throughout the mouth. This was actually better. The pain lessened a lot and could be mostly handled by morphine and the oral mucositis rinse.

Unless I ate.

I think I delayed getting this affliction by a day or two thanks to excellent oral care. I was rinsing every two hours with mouthwash (no alcohol) and brushing frequently. But everyone gets mucositis if they have this chemo (apparently) so I got it around midnight of Day +9 (so pretty much Day +10).

Once it moved to my mouth, the steady pain was manageable. But if I ate, the pain was beyond control. I quickly discovered that I can only handle bland food and ideally wouldn’t have to chew.

Here on Day +12 I’ve discovered a couple of good foods for this. The instant oatmeal, if made extra creamy/soft, can just be swallowed. And mashed potatoes with gravy – make this extra creamy as well. Both of these things are actually decent tasting, and what’s more they are filling. Unlike soup, which I can also manage but leaves me hungry again an hour later. Top all this off with ice cream.

One other thing I’ve been experiencing is a drop in magnesium. So I’ve been getting this through the IV every day since Day +5. This one sucks because an hour into it my face gets ridiculously hot. Word of advice – get this over at least three hours, not two. Today I’m trying four hours, to see if I can stop the ‘hot face’ from happening.

That’s it for this update. I hope my blood counts start rising in three days (Day +14), but likely five or six days. When that happens, the mouth issue goes away.

 

 

 

 

Discharged (Part 1)

Posted: August 23, 2017 in The Battle Against MDS

After 35 days in the hospital I was finally discharged. The bone marrow took that long to wake up, and in fact hadn’t really awakened at all. But the doctor determined that enough signs were there to indicate that a “wake up” was happening soon and he felt that I needed to be home for at least a few days before going back in for my stem cell transplant. So he cut me loose, despite my neutraphyls being just .08 and white blood cells at .04. My hemoglobins were at 78 and because I was being sent home he gave me a blood transfusion (normally we get these if hemoglobin gets below 75).

I love being at home. Sleep in my own bed, rest on my own couch, grab my own meals from my own kitchen (or get my wife to!). However, the stay at home was tainted. On Wednesday (I was released the Thursday) I received the best bone marrow biopsy I ever got. Followed by a lumbar puncture (LP) that also wasn’t bad. HOWEVER. The LP resulted in terrible pain in my neck that forced me to lie prone and flat in my bed for Wednesday. I was told that this would last 24 hours and that coffee and lots of liquid would help. Thursday, however, was the same thing. I could hardly hold my head up. I had no strength in my neck and there was enough pain to give me a headache. I got home at five o’clock and took two Robaxacal. That helped immensely. In fact, it cured me for Thursday night, I was almost 100%.

However, I awakened Friday with the pain back and the Robaxacel didn’t do anything to help. So I went to the chiropractor who has gotten me out of several jams in the past. And you know what? He helped. Again I was nearly 100% and my Friday was saved. HOWEVER. Saturday the pain was back again. I went straight to the chiropractor and this time what he did didn’t help at all. I went home and tried Robaxacel and Tylenol. No dice. Nothing worked. I had to lie prone for the day and drank lots of water.

Sunday it felt a little better, but holding my head up for more than 20 minutes was a chore. Monday it was better still. So I finally sat at my computer and did some work. I was able to work for 30 minutes, then lie down for 20 minutes, back and forth over and over. Not ideal, but I did what had to be done.

On Tuesday it was better still, and this time I could hold my head up for an hour. My wife and I went to the hospital for a scheduled blood check and sure enough all my counts went up a lot. I was again told to have coffee, it would help with the neck pain. So I had one, and it did help. Now today, Wednesday, my neck feels good. At the computer for two hours and still fine. Drinking coffee now. So I get to ‘really’ enjoy my family for one day. Tomorrow I check back in for what will be about 45 days.

It’s scary, I won’t lie to you. More chemo, plus radiation to boot. Then the stem cell transplant on the 30th. Then recovery and hope.

Two positives – One is that, although not necessary, my donor’s blood type is the same as mine. So that helps a bit, gives a bit of an advantage. Second, the last round of chemo got my blast count (the cancer) down below 5%. It needed to get below 10% for the transplant to proceed and the lower the better. So I feel good about this.

 

Infection

Posted: August 3, 2017 in The Battle Against MDS

Day 1 is considered the first day that I get chemo. So they don’t count the first two days I was here. Today is Day 20.

Chemo lasted five days, as I already outlined, with the first three being the really hardcore, powerful stuff. By Day 7 I started to feel better (that’s a relative term, to be clear). I could function and had a ‘bit’ of an appetite.  On Day 9 I went home to see my kids, wife and dog. I got a four hour pass. I was only able to lie on the couch, but at least I was home.

Each day I felt a little better and on Thursday, Day 13, I felt absolutely fabulous. I asked the doctor for a pass that would allow to go home – and spend the night there. At first Dr. Andre was hesitant, and rightfully so. I may be feeling okay, but in the background the chemo was now fully working its brutality. My counts were all low, but the key is the neutraphyls, which were at zero. Dr. Andre decided to allow it, but told me to wear a mask on the drive (air circulation in the car).

As I was driven home, I started to feel a headache coming on. By the time I got home I had to lie down, and the headache was hurting a lot. I was home by around five, and went to bed before nine. I didn’t get to really talk or hug my kids the way I wanted to. I woke up a lot throughout the night and felt the fever coming on. By six in the morning, we checked my temperature and it was at one hundred.

My wife rushed me to the hospital and I went straight to my bed. Then it was three days of hell. Antibiotics, antivirals, blood transfusions, sweats, chills, even another vomit session.

I came out of that one just a shattered, shell of human being. As if five guys had just kicked the shit out of me in a parking lot for an hour and then walked away, leaving me in a fetal position. Or a better description is I did a triathalon without any training and without stretching beforehand – how I would feel the next day. My muscles were toast.

My mind was back and my spirit was back, but physically I was spent. This was July 31, a Monday. Day 17.

It was also the day before I release my 12th annual Fantasy Hockey Guide. The infection had taken me out for three days. Three days in which I had planned to a bit of work on the guide here, a bit of work on the guide there. Now, instead of a light, casual schedule, I had several hours of work to do – and about two hours of energy to do it.

For the first time in history, I had to release the guide on August 1st without the teams being 100% completed. Vancouver, Vegas, Washington and Winnipeg each had a bit of work yet to be done on it.

On Tuesday, I took it off from work. It was a struggle to walk. My calf muscles were shot. They were chewed. They had no strength and couldn’t hold me standing for more than thirty seconds. This made going pee every couple of hours a lot of fun. They gave me muscle relaxants, which did help.

Wednesday was more of the same, except my appetite was 100% back. I actually ate most of a huge panzarotti. I didn’t plan to take it off work, but I did. Again.

So now we’re at Thursday. Day 20.

I’m told that on Day 21 my bone marrow wakes up and starts producing blood counts again and that over the weekend I can expect my counts to actually start rising on their own. But for today, at least, my counts are down. Hemoglobin is at 71, so I need blood. Platelets are at 9, so I need platelets. I’ll get those today. then tomorrow the counts will be fine…and then on Saturday, ideally, the counts will go – up. Wouldn’t that be nice?

My stem cell transplant coordinator was in to see me today. They are hoping to do the stem cell transplant on August 30, which means I would get readmitted to hospital on August 24 for pre-treatment. I will be discharged from my current stay here sometime between August 9 and August 14.