Jason TNT

Jason TNT

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Final Blog Entry

I’ve got good news and better news.  The good news is that I’m permanently going home to Orlando!  Yesterday, we received word from Dr. Alsina that all my counts are looking great and it’s time for me to continue my recovery at home.  Nobody thought that we’d be going home to Orlando so soon, so it’s nice to hear that my body has bounced back quicker than expected.  Here’s a photo of Dr. Alsina pushing me out the door on behalf of all the staff at Moffitt who we suspect were getting tired of me hanging around.
The better news is that this is my last blog entry and you will no longer be subject to my ramblings.  Now is the right time to end the blog for a number of reasons:
·         There will be no hospital visits anymore and there’s not much exciting about my life when there’s not a medical sideshow going on
·         Nobody wants to hear me talk about myself…especially me (show me someone who likes to talk about themselves and I’ll show you someone I’ll avoid in every social situation)
·         School’s almost over and it’s time to focus on summer vacations, not medical stuff
Thanks to all of you who have followed along since my first post on May 1.  Thanks also to those who posted comments (I read every single one), sent emails and phoned along the way.  Thanks to those who sent prayers, good vibes and positive thoughts.  Thanks to those who delivered food, both in Orlando and Tampa.  Thanks to those who helped the kids, helped the grandparents and cut the lawn.  Throughout all of this, Jen and I felt very blessed to have such a strong network of family and friends standing behind us and our family.  All of your support made the process of recovery a lot easier and probably a lot faster than we could have reasonably expected.
For those in Orlando, I hope to see you soon although it will take me awhile to get back to my normal self.  It will be a few weeks before I go back to work and I still need to be careful to avoid crowds.  For those in other parts of country, I hope to talk to you soon and/or see you when you’re in Orlando or I can start traveling again.
Thanks again to everyone for your help and support along the way.  Have a great Summer!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Great Birthday

Since I don't have to be at the hospital this weekend, we decided to drive to Tampa yesterday to see the kids.  We hadn’t seen them in 3 weeks, so they were very surprised when we were there waiting for them for dinner at Tijuana Flats.  Even better than the surprise was the fun they had continually taking off my hat and laughing at my bald head.  It goes without saying that it was awesome to see them.
Today was my birthday and it was one of the best ever…certainly the most appreciated.  It was a low-key day hanging out together as a family, opening a few gifts, and eating a yummy cookie cake (my favorite) that Jen baked.
It was hard to leave the kids and drive back to Tampa today, but hopefully we’ll be permanently back in Orlando soon.
Thanks again to all for your thoughts and prayers.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Day 14 - More Good News

After getting out of the hospital on Wednesday, the news keeps getting better.  My numbers have really started gaining steam and I haven't needed to receive any treatment the last two days.  Even better, I don't have to go into the hospital at all this weekend.  This will be the first time in three weeks that I haven't had to drive over to Moffitt!!

We meet with the doctor on Monday (Memorial Day) and will hopefully come up with a plan to get us back to Orlando soon.

I hope everyone has a great holiday weekend and thanks for your thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Day 12 - Things Get "Hairy"

I'm now at Day 12 (look at the calendar on the right of the blog page…Day 0 was transplant day) and lots of things are in motion.

I was getting tired of leaving hair clumps as big as hamsters in the shower drain every day, so I had my hair buzzed off.  See photo below...my head appears to be shaped like a dented cantaloupe.  You know, the one that only the lady that lives alone with her 12 cats picks out of the produce section.  Also, doesn't my right ear seem to be higher than my left ear?  How does something like that slip through the evolutionary process?  I think we can all look forward to my hair growing back and covering my misshapen noggin.

In better news, all my numbers look good and I'm being discharged from the hospital today.  Hooray!  I'll still have to come back to the hospital a couple of times a day for treatment, but it will be much better to sleep each night in a home where nobody wakes you up at 4am for vital signs and they don't make you pee in a bottle every time you need to go.

Lastly, sweeps week just ended and apparently, in the entire 32806 zip code, no other blog about a guy named Jason who got a stem cell transplant is as widely read as my blog about a guy named Jason who got a stem cell transplant.  On the strength of these ratings, I've approached Red Lobster about sponsoring this blog.  As such, over the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, I'd like to remind everyone to enjoy Festival of Shrimp at Red Lobster where you can combine two of your favorite chef-inspired shrimp creations for only $11.99.  Tell 'em that Jason sent you.

Thanks again to all who have posted comments and thanks to all for your thoughts and prayers.

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Quick Detour

POP QUIZ!!!  See the photo above of my new accomodations...is it:

(a) the employee lounge at the IKEA store
(b) a poorly re-modeled Days Inn
(c) the hospital

The correct answer is (c).   I spiked a fever up over 101 degrees yestereday, so I was admitted to the hospital out of an abundance of caution.  These will be my new digs until I engraft.  The good news is that I'm already feeling better and my temperature was back to normal this morning.  I hope I engraft soon because it's not easy to sleep in the hospital when people have to come in and out of your room around the clock.

It also seems like I might be starting to lose my hair, which means another...POP QUIZ!!!  What part of the body is the first to lose hair:

(a) the head
(b) the weird hairs on your toes
(c) someplace geographically in the middle of (a) and (b) but that I'm not going to mention by name because my Mom reads this blog

Again, the correct answer is (c).  Another piece of knowledge that you can drop at your Memorial Day BBQ parties.  You're welcome.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Killer Nurses

If you read yesterday's blog, you know that I was scheduled to get Neupogen today.  Neupogen stimulates the production of stem cells and should help ignite the engraftment process (i.e. the immune system regeneration process).  Neupogen is given by good old-fashioned injection. 

Maybe inspired by my own (poor) sense of humor, my nurses (Jess and Amelia) today decided to play a joke on me.  They came into the room with a giant syringe.  It looked like it could tranquilize a horse and I wasn't looking forward to getting stuck with it.  See the photo bleow...I'm not sure you can fully appreciate how big and ugly that thing is...especially because everything looks big against my scrawny arm:

The good news is that they were just kidding and the real syringe was much smaller.  That said, it apparently packed quite a punch.  I was nappging for most of the afternoon today.  I also received a big infusion of platelets today...courtesy of my Mom who donated them over the weekend.

I'm looking forward to my lab results tomorrow to see if the Neupogen has kick-started the engraftment process.  I'm also looking forward to eating some BBQ ribs tomorrow....they're already marinating tonight.  Yummy.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Day 6 - Feeling Stronger

Hopefully, this is not all just in my head because it feels like I'm getting stronger.  After GI issues dominated day 3 and day 4, I was exhausted pretty much all day yesterday (day 5).  Today, I feel a bit stronger even though my lab work this morning showed that my counts are still zero (as expected).  I'm looking forward to getting Neupogen tomorrow (even though it's an injection) to kick start my counts.  It sounds like I may get some platelets tomorrow too.  I've had a bunch of family members and friends in the Tampa area donate blood and/or platelets, so I'll probably get some "family platelets".  We learned an interesting fact today.  Platelets normally have a yellow color when they're being infused...unless they were donated by a woman on birth control.  In that case, they have a green color.  A little knowledge for you to drop during your upcoming Memorial Day barbeque parties.

We had a nice surprise yesterday when Jen's best friend Lara drove over to Tampa from her home in Ormond Beach.  Even though I spent most of the day napping, it was nice for Jen and Lara to have a fun afternoon together.

I'll post again tomorrow after I get the Neupogen!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Day 4 - GI Jason

I'm now at Day 4 (transplant was Day 0) and still feeling better than I thought I would.  The only negative has been some pretty heavy duty GI issues.  The doctors have given me some extra IV fluids over the last couple of days to make up for what I've lost and hopefully we get through this phase quickly.  My white blood cell count is now very low (as expected) and my body should start trying to get my counts back up in the next few days.  On Friday, I'll get a drug (Neupogen) that will help my body re-generate the cells that the chemo killed off. 

Some other random thoughts from over the last week or so:
  • I really missed not being there for Aaron's last 2 little league games of the season
  • It has been fun watching the Yankees lose 4 in a row to the Red Sox & Rays
  • I can't wait to eat some really good BBQ again
  • Chick Fil A sandwiches are awesome
  • Electric razors are a waste of time
  • Books are better than movies
  • I hople Glad "Press N' Seal" works better on food than it works on human skin
  • I have a better wife than I deserve (but everyone already knows this)
Thanks to all who have posted.  Jen and I have had fun reading through the posts.  It is nice to know that I have such good family & friends out there pulling for me.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Crazy Chemo Dreams

I've had some crazy dreams at night...I'm thinking it's the chemo. I've been on trains, I've been skiing, I've been in London, I've been in the cast of Jersey Shore.   OK, the Jersey Shore was more of a nightmare than a dream.  Maybe enough bad drugs can turn me into a reality TV executive?

My white blood cell counts dropped low enough that I needed an infusion of antibiotics today.  This is to be expected and I'll keep getting these infusions until my counts rebound on their own.  Starting on Thursday, I'll get injections that will stimulate white blood cell production.

I'm feeling tired, but thankfully not too nauseous.  I even got to enjoy a nice BBQ chicken meal that my Mom & Rich brought over to my convalescent home at the Browns last night.  Yummy.

I'll try to come up with something more exciting to post about next time (but hopefully nothing too exciting that involves the hospital!).

Thanks again to all for your thoughts and prayers.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Waiting

Even though he's from Gainesville (aka The Holy Land), I've never been a big Tom Petty fan.  That said, I always did like his song "The Waiting"http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMyCa35_mOg (this video doesn't really stand the test of time, does it?).

The song's chorus "The Waiting Is The Hardest Part" is top of mind for me.  Due to a website issue, this blog was down and I had to wait to post a new update (hopefully nobody got "nervous" when you didn't hear from me). Also, I was waiting for the the chemo part of the process to be done and the stem cell infusion to start.

The good news is that I now have my stem cells (and my "new" birthday).  Just finished the infusion about 30 minutes ago.  Maybe they'll make me grow taller!!!  It has been nice to have both Jen and my Mom here with me during the process.

Not much to do now but to continue "The Waiting" for the chemo to drop my blood counts to zero and "The Waiting" for the stem cells to build them back up again.  Continued thanks to all of you for sending me your prayers, good vibes, positive karma, rightheous chi....or whatever positivity works in your world.  I'll take it in all shapes and sizes.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Not Glowing in Dark...Yet

Today was the first day of high-dose chemo and it went well...almost anti-climatic. No fatigue, nausea, or other side effects yet. I even went outside after dark and confirmed that I wasn't glowing. The side effects will come over time, so I'm enjoying normal life as long as possible.

The second, and final, round of high-dose chemo comes tomorrow.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Game Time!

The wait is finally over.  After all of the prayers and good vibes, tomorrow begins the action.  I had my catheter surgically inserted today and I get my first dose of chemo tomorrow. 

Bobby Knight famously commented on putting one's game face on (for those of you who aren't familiar with hyper linking, you can click on text that you see higlighted in blue and underlined and it will take you to a link with more details...so you can click on the words "game face on" in the previous sentence and see what I mean about Bobby Knight).  The part I'm referring to begins at the 2:42 mark of the clip.  Unfortunately, lots of bad language in the link, but it's bleeped out. 

What does a stem cell transplant have to do with Bobby Knight?  I'm glad you asked.  Today , I put my "game hair" on (see below).  Jen is not thrilled with the new look, but I'm digging the low maintenance aspect. 

To all my New England relatives...how 'bout that shirt?  I'm looking forward to getting down to business tomorrow.  Thanks again to all for your prayers and help.  Together we will prevail.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Will I Turn Evil?

I've caught some grief over my life because I share a name with Jason, the hockey-mask wearing killer of hormone-fueled teenagers.  The Friday the 13th movies were a highlight of my Cinemax-fueled young adulthood.  If you look at my treatment calendar at the right of the blog page, you'll see that my once-faint connection to this coed cadaver-maker is about to grow stronger.  In transplant talk, "Day 0" is the day that stem cells are inserted to begin the process of re-generating the immune system that has been wiped out by high-dose chemotherapy.  Day 0 is often called a patient's new birthday.  That means my new birthday is Friday May 13th.  I am now Jason, "born" on Friday the 13th.  I'll be adding a machete to my pool equipment in case I need to hack to bloody pieces any frolicking teenagers who have sneaked into my pool to skinny dip.