The Dawn of a New Day

During my recent lung infection event, in consideration of others, I went on a self-imposed quarantine, remembering the disgusting sound of a hacking, loaded, incessant cough in a fine dining restaurant. I took plenty of rest and did only the minimum work required of me, like taking to the trash bin bags of yucky germy tissue papers. Waking up cough-free the other morning, I proudly declared: Today is the day. No more Ms Nice Guy in isolation.  Society, here I come to whoop it up again. It starts today!

At 7:00a.m., spring restored in my steps, I sashayed from the bedroom to the Great Room and sat down on my favorite dining chair, the one near the chair of my roommate, my backpack. I tested my blood glucose. Perfect. The numbers have been perfect since I stopped taking Poksceva one week earlier. What a relief it was to have no Metformin and hyperglycemia kicking me around any more.

Sipping hot peppermint tea between nibbles of soft-bite mini almond biscotti, I decided to ratchet up the celebration of the brand new day with a healthy, hearty breakfast: six fresh grape tomatoes for my dose of lycopene, three points of New Zealand rack of lamb for protein, fresh blueberries, sweet cherries, and apple slices for vitamins and potassium. For carbs, instead of a baked potato, I had a bag of baked crunchy Cheetos. Hey, gotta have a little junk food. Life is the pits without occasional junk food.

While savoring the gourmet meal in solitude, all sorts of thoughts cascaded into my mind. It happens when one blog ends and a new one begins.  One cancer treatment ends and a new one begins. So much is unknown in the new ones, although one constant remains. In life, cancer or no cancer, conking out sooner or later is an absolute certainty.

I have been without cancer treatment since I stopped taking Poksceva and not starting on Tagrisso.  A representative of the specialty pharmacy that sells Tagrisso had informed me that my co-pay would be $3,274.38 for one month supply. I told her, I’ll pass. And choose to literally pass. My personal wealth can be best used in the perpetuation of my DNA, as in sending my grandson to the Ivy League college of his choice, should there be a bidding war over him. She had scrambled to try to get the manufacturer to take care of my co-pay.  Consequently Dr Brevity received forms to fill out and I had to produce proof of income. Who knows how long before the good doctor gets to my paperwork and if my proof of income qualifies for assistance.  There are no guarantees. My newly reactivated tumor is a ticking time bomb.

A telephone call interrupted the swirl of thoughts in my head.  It was the specialty pharmacy’s representative. She said a foundation – Healthwell Foundation – wants to assist me. She asked a few personal questions, then for my permission to allow her to fill out the application form on my behalf. After it is approved, she said, usually within 48 hours, she’ll ship my supply of Tagrisso pills. How did I get such an incredible deal?

Drum roll please…..A new day has dawned!

A Postcard From the Pits

The news about Feisty Heifer – that would be me – was grossly exaggerated: that she was last seen blog post in hand, riding a broom that was careening to the Pearly Gates. Truth of the matter was, the last of my mystery ailments 2016 series just had to get in on the action. Some unknown nasty bacteria decided to occupy my lungs on my way back from NM to CA after Christmas. It sure stopped cold my first foray as a cougar. This cub and I had planned on crashing a full-regalia New Year’s Eve Party in our retirement resort. It happens when a couple thinks the whole world waits for them to buy tickets the day before the event. What was he thinking!

My poor lungs! The Milky Way has occupied them for nearly five years now. In December 2015, after the Tokyo/Shanghai trip a bacterial infection battered the lungs some more. This past December, a new host of inflammatory characters pummeled them yet again.  And that in spite of  pneumonia and flu shots in November.

For another first time in my life, I faced sickness alone, which had never occurred to me as a distinct possibility.  There had always been somebody hovering around me, asking how do you feel? Can I get you something? Or ordering me around to Go to Urgent Care, Go to ER, Take Ibuprofen!

I faced seven days of antibiotics, which generally makes me feel crappy.  I got to thinking, Who will help me? Who will nag me? The answer was unequivocal: me, moi, and no other. My present lifestyle is a choice of mine and the consequence is that I have a monopoly on the caregiving action.

When this last bacterial infection made me feel really, really bad on the second day, a burst of creativity in the caregiving department washed over me. I thought I’ve got a serious ailment here – inflamed lungs filled with crud that caused hissy-fit coughing,  sounding like a bongo drum. I considered having my cabbie cohort  to drive me to the ER and get me some tender loving care from the young handsome ER doctors of Southern Orange County. But coughing alone, no matter how bad, is not ER material. It has to be accompanied by other life-threatening symptoms like nausea, excruciating pain, shortness of breath, chest tightening, high fever.  I had none of those.  In fact, my appetite seemed to have perked up. What’s the matter with me! So out with creativity. The only thing I could do was wait out the antibiotic to do its job.

But I have to hand it to my poor lungs. You’d think that considering myriads of obstacles thrown on them by the Milky Way, plus bacteria-caused inflammations that block the airways two years in a row, there would be shortness of breath qualifying me for a trip to the ER.  Maybe my lungs have more extra airways than the poor ordinary mortals who are deprived of the cancer experience.

Meanwhile, a new experience awaits. Today it’s official. The progression under CO-1686 is for real, in accordance with the RECIST standards for solid tumors.  I was on the ill-fated Magic Pill just three months short of three years.  Goodbye Poksceva. Goodbye diabetes. Goodbye Metformin.  Goodbye suspense. Goodbye My CO-1686 blog.  HELLO TAGRISSO!

The mucus machine has whirred down. I think I’ll crawl out from under the biggest rock in the pits.  I’ll blow the dust off me and do a little happy dance.