Jason TNT

Jason TNT

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Was It The Eggnog That Made Me Faint?

It has been awhile since my last post and some interesting stuff has transpired since then.  Over the past month or so, I started the questionable practice of randomly fainting.  It happened three times and two of the falls involved me banging my face on something hard (like a granite countertop) on the way down.  My face started to resemble one of the guys on the TV show “Cops” who decides that resisting arrest would be a good idea.

What was I talking about? Oh yeah, last week, things progressed to the point where I could only walk a few yards at a time without feeling light-headed.   A trip to the doctor (in a wheelchair…how humiliating!) revealed that my blood pressure was dropping dramatically every time I went from sitting to standing.  Since blood pressure issues are often heart-related, and since my issues were pretty severe, my doctor was rightly very concerned.  So…I got to do my favorite thing…get admitted back to the hospital!  Nothing says Happy Holidays like getting awakened every four hours for vital signs!

I was only “on the inside” for four days, but it was an eventful stay filled with tons of tests trying to figure out what was causing my issues.  Here’s a tidbit to drop in upcoming holiday party conversations… you can get an MRI at 2:30 am…and don’t even need a open gunshot wound to do so.  After all the testing, the good news is that my heart checked out fine and the culprit appears to be my adrenal glands which, among other things, secrete hormones that help regulate blood pressure.  The thought is that my chemo regimen has damaged the glands’ ability to produce these hormones and therefore my blood pressure has suffered. 

So, I’m now out of the hospital taking some pills to replace the things that the adrenal glands should be producing.  I’m feeling better, and certainly glad to be out of the hospital, but am still moving a bit slow and hope to be back to my old self (whoever that is) soon.  In other news…

-  Remember the famous “wax on, wax off” line from the classic 80’s movie “The Karate Kid”?”  In the Beaird house, our line is “cast on, cast off”.  After Shannon had her cast successfully removed (and thankfully now with no trace that her arm was ever broken in the first place), another family member got a new cast.  Our puppy, Kona, broke a leg while rough-housing with the kids.  See photo below…at least it’s a festive holiday cast.

-  It was nice to see the Gators pick up a win against the Seminoles on the football field (and an even more impressive win on the basketball court…not that I’m rubbing it in…OK, maybe a little bit).  A one-loss season and a trip to the Sugar Bowl (mmm…New Orleans food), a great year after a disappointing one last year.

-  Thanks to everyone for all the help over the past several weeks.  Grandparents have come over to offer driving services (I’m not allowed behind the wheel) and have helped get the house decorated for Christmas, my brother took Aaron on a weekend-long Boy Scout camping trip, people have brought by all kinds of delicious food.  Your help and support is truly appreciated.  We are truly blessed to have such great family and friends.

-  The biggest thanks go to my lovely wife who is truly the glue that holds our family together.  I don’t know how she juggles my issues, kids and their school/extra-curricular schedules, a dog with a broken leg, and the holiday season all at the same time.  We celebrated our 17th anniversary over the weekend…it’s amazing how fast the time passes.  Jen, I owe you a nice anniversary dinner once my diet expands beyond soup and mashed potatoes.

I hope you all are enjoying the holiday season with your family and friends.  Make sure you take time away from work, email and other distractions to truly enjoy this great time of year. Thanks again for all of your support, encouragement and prayers.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


It has been a few weeks since my last blog post.  The delay is party attributable to a lack of interesting new things to write about and partly because my energy level has been a bit low.  On Friday, I finished up another chemo cycle...and the two "on" weeks of the cycle no doubt sapped some of eagerness to blog.  As always, I'm looking forward to my upcoming "off" week.  There's even more to look forward to than ususal since this off week coincides with Thanksgiving week.  Speaking of Thanksgiving, there are lots of things for which to to be thankful:

  • I'm thankful that my Mom and Rich came over last week while Jen and Aaron went to Boston for a school field trip.  I was able to take care of a blood transfusion and some heavy chemo while Shannon received some great love and attention from her granparents.
  • I'm thankful that I got to take a day off with Shannon while Jen and Aaron were in Boston.  We enjoyed our Daddy/Daugther day.  We watched Hotel Transylvania and spent some great one-on-one time together.
  • Jen and Aaron got to see snow on their Boston trip.  The Florida kids had a blast with a huge snowball fight in the hotel parking lot and even made some snow angels!  See photo below.

  • Shannon's cast is scheduled to come off on Tuesday.  Just in time to get both arms back in action at the Thanskgiving dinner table!
  • Speaking of Thanksgiving dinner...I can't wait for turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and, of course, some cream corn.  Jen's family loves to give me grief about my fondness the mushy yellow good stuff, but I don't care.  There is no shame in carrying on the tradition of the Texas side of my family.  
  • Nobody should be more thankful than the Gators for only having one loss.  We have zero offense, yet still manage to win games.  I think Florida State will hang our second loss on us this coming Saturday, but we're still having a great season when you consider all the crazy twists and turns in the college football season lately.
Of course, I'm most thankful for my family, friends and all of the prayers and support that I get.  I hope each of you has much for which to be thankful and I hope all of you have a great Thansgiving week.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Another Cycle Done

This week marked the last two chemo treatments of another cycle...the fourth cycle on my current treatment regimen.  I'm looking forward to my rest week this coming week.  After my consultation in Boston last week, it looks like we're going to try to another four cycles of basically the same chemo regimen.  We'll be using all the same drugs, we'll just be slightly tweaking the method and timing via which some of the drugs are delivered.  Keep your fingers crossed that all the numbers keep moving in the right direction.

In other news:

-  I'm not the only Beaird who spent time at Florida Hospital recently.  Shannon broke her second major bone...this time her humerus (upper arm) after falling from a parade float that was parked after a parade that she marched in with her brother and his Cub Scout troop.  She underwent surgery and had three pins placed in her arm.  See below for a post-surgery photo.  She'll wear a soft cast for 3 weeks and then will have the pins removed and will wear a hard cast for 2 more weeks.  She's only 7, but has now broken the biggest bone in her leg and the biggest bone in her arm...when she goes, she goes big!

-  I had a minor procedure done this past Thursday and had the same anesthesiologist that put Shannon under for her arm surgery.  Have we reached Medallion status at Florida Hospital yet?  When do those frequent flier miles start kicking in?  Can a brother get an upgrade?

-  Lady luck finally caught up with the Gators.  After winning the turnover battle all year, the Gators coughed up the ball 6 times and still only narrowly lost to the hated Georgia Bulldogs.  Jen made the trip up to Jacksonville and had a good time tailgating up the St. John's River with her brother and friends on her brother's boat.  Although the loss hurt, if you would have told me at the beginning of the season that we'd by 7-1 at this point, I'd have taken the money and run.

-  In better football news, Aaron's team won the championship in their flag football league.  Aaron played a great game at quarterback in the championship game and also made some outstanding plays on defense (not that I'm biased or anything).  It was a fun season with great coaches and a great group of teammates.

-  Looks like our friends to the North may get a little taste of a hurricane.  Hopefully Sandy is not too powerful when she makes landfall.  I hope all of my relatives in Massachusetts avoid any storm damage...maybe some good wind and rain will blow away memories of the season the Red Sox just had.

Until next time...thanks to all for your prayers and good wishes.  Be sure to enjoy time with your family and friends!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Real Autumn

As part of my treatment, every six months or so, I see a doctor at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.  Dr. Richardson is a renowned myeloma expert who is up to date on all the latest research and treatment options.  We view Dr. Rischardson as our "offensive coordinator" and we work with him to develop the game plan for treatment and then we execute that game plan in Orlando.  Jen and I just got back to Orlando after visiting with Dr. Richardson in Boston on Tuesday.  We talked about some minor tweaks to my current treatment plan and also talked about bigger next steps if/when they are needed. 

The best part about being in Boston was the weather.  Living in Florida, it's easy to forget that there are four seasons in the year.  It's not like the palm trees change color in Autumn.  So, it was a refreshing change to walk around the city in mid-60 degree weather and see the trees in various shades of yellow, orange and red.  We enjoyed our taste of "real Autumn", but also are happy to know we won't have to deal with "real Winter" and the snow, ice and freezing weather that are just around the corner for New England.

In this week's non-medical news:

-  Our house could host Universal Studios' Halloween Horror Nights.  Jen loves Halloween and, once again, has our house decorated to the hilt.  Aaron and Shannon are scared to venture out on our front porch at night because of all the scary sights and sounds that have been rigged up.  I'm sure we'll scare our fair share of trick or treaters next week.

-  People "up North" love to wear pro football jerseys.  It doesn't matter if your male or female, apparently a football jersey is a fashion statement.  On the flight to Boston, we saw plenty of Tom Brady, Wes Welker, and Rob Gronkowski wannabes.  After we landed, we went to a bar near our hotel to watch the Patriots game and half the patrons were decked out in jerseys.  It was fun, but different, to be in an atmosphere where the NFL is king and nobody pays attention to college football.

-  Speaking of college football, the Gators have their 3rd huge game in a row this weekend...taking on Georgia in "The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party" in Jacksonville.  We had a bit of luck last weekend when South Carolina decided to turn the ball over multiple times.  That said, our defense looks great and hopefully our offense has enough to beat the Bulldogs.

That's it for now.  Until next time, I hope everyone enjoys some time with family & friends

Sunday, October 14, 2012

You Gotta Love Rest Weeks!

It was nice to have a rest week this week.  Nobody jabbing me for chemo, no blood or platelet transfusions, it was almost...normal.  I only had one check-in appointment with my oncologist, an appointment with an ENT doctor, and a bone marrow biopsy.  A very light medical week for me!  During the bone marrow biopsy, they removed a sample of bone marrow from my pelvis and measured the amount of myeloma cells inside.  We can compare the results to my last bone marrow biopsy to see if the myeloma cells are increasing or decreasing (hopefully, it's the latter).  We decided to do this procedure ahead of my visit to Boston the week of Oct 22nd where I'll be checking in with my doctor at Dana Farber hospital.  He is my "offensive coordinator" and Jen and I set up the game plan of my treatment with him and then execute that treatment plan in Orlando.

In a couple of non-medical notes:

- Due to a comment received last week, I updated the photo at the top of the blog.

- It was great to see my cousin Nicole, who was down from Massachussets, and her family at my brother's house yesterday.  They got a bit of a taste of Saturday in the South during college football season as the Gator game was on throughout our visit.

- The Gators played their typical close game against Vanderbilt, but squeaked out another (somewhat ugly) victory.  A fired up South Carolina team will be coming to The Swamp this coming weekend after losing to LSU.  I hope we don't let our new #3 ranking (AP Poll) or the fact that ESPN's Game Day will be broadcasting from Gainesville, get to our heads.  We're definitely over-rated at #3, but we can beat the Gamecocks if we play well.

-  A huge shout out to my friend Craig Powers who completed the legendary Ironman Hawaii triathlon yesterday. Not only did he swim 2.4 miles, then bike 112 miles, and then finish his day off by running a full 26.2 mile marathon...he did it all while battling 30-40 mile winds and heat & humidity on the Big Island of Hawaii.  Not bad for a Buckeye!  While racing, Craig wore the logo of the Multiple Myeloman Research Foundation and raised awareness for the fight to cure myeloma.  CP...you da man!!

-  See photo below for a pretty sweet bike that Craig saw a fellow competitor riding in Hawaii.  In a word...classy!

I hope everyone has a great week with their family and friends...more to come next week.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Another Good Week

Good news...another fairly uneventful medical week passed.  I did have to get a blood transfusion on Friday night (unfortunately, the hospital is not a great place for happy hour), but I made it through the first two weeks of another chemo cycle and am looking forward to a week of rest.  I still feel a little worn down, so I have a sneaking suspicion that I may need to get some additional platelets this week.  We'll see what's to come.

A special shout out to Barbara Barati who provided one of the units of blood that I received in my transfusion.  Even though I have a feeling it was Garnet-colored Seminole blood, it still helped a ton.  If anyone else in the Orlando area wants to donate blood directly for my benefit, you can contact Jennifer at 407.361.9288 or jbeaird@cfl.rr.com and she can give you the details.

In this week's non-medical news:

-  My cousin Nicole and her family will be in town from Massachusetts and I'm looking forward to spending some time with them this weekend.

-  The Gators notched their first big win in a few years as they took down LSU at The Swamp on Saturday.  Great to see them off to an undefeated start although I fear they're now over-rated at #4 in the AP poll.

-  Even though I don't root against FSU until the play UF...I wasn't sad to see them go down to The Wolfpack.

-  I wonder how many more people would watch the baseball playoffs if they happened before football season started.  Do we really want to watch baseball in the snow in Detroit?

-  Happy early birthday to Nana (aka Sue Brown) who celebrates another year on Tue the 9th.

-  Shannon made her debut in the St. James children's choir at 9:00 Mass this morning.  She had a great time...see photo.

That's it for this week.  Have a great week and thanks for all the continued prayers and support.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Weekly Update

It definitely feels good to keep typing "Weekly Update" as the header for each blog post.  Although boring, I much prefer it to "Back in the Hospital" or "Oh Sh*t".

Last week was the first week of a new chemo cycle.  Week one is the tougher of the two weeks of each cycle's treatment because day 4 falls in week one (not sure if I've mentioned this before, but I get chemo on Day 1, Day 4, Day 8 and Day 11 of each 21-day cycle).  Day 4 is the one day each cycle that I get my heaviest chemo drug, Doxil (aka Doxorubicin).  I'm usually pretty wiped out the day I get Doxil and the following day.  Kinda funny that the medicine itself is a non-threatening pink color and seems relatively harmless as it flows out of the IV bag.  Perhaps they tint it pink on purpose because its original purpose was to fight ovarian cancer and it was only later discovered to be effective against multiple myeloma.  These are the kinds of things you think about when you're bored in the chemo room.  ANYWAY...I'm looking forward to knocking out my last 2 treatments of the cycle this week and getting to a rest week next week.

Meanwhile, in more entertaining news:

-  The Beaird family had a great time at Universal last week. Harry Potter World was a lot of fun...we drank butter beer (I like to call it cream soda on steroids...and that's a good thing) and bought magic wands.  We also really enjoyed Jurassic Park...especially Shannon who attempted to set a record for most rides in one day on the Pteranodon Flyers.  We stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel and that allowed us to get into the park an hour ahead of the regular crowd...a strategy that worked very well for us.  It also worked well for Universal as we decided to upgrade to annual passes.  How do the theme parks continue to make us spend money?!?!  I'm convinced they pump medium-grade narcotics into the air to disorient us while making us happy and freeing us of our inhibitions.  Pixie dust my rump...it's a gaseous form of cocaine!

-  Speaking of the Hard Rock hotel, it just so happened that there was a concert held in the hotel lobby on Thursday night while we were there.  Wait for it....Bret Michaels (former lead singer of Poison).  Yes, ladies, he's still flashig those dreamy blue eyes (or contact lenses).  We popped in for some of the sound check and even a small bit of the concert...it was pretty cool.  However, it was unbelievable how many 50+ year old women AND MEN!! there were with huge teased hair and tight 80's jeans.  Who are these people?  Where are they when the sun is shining?  Do they have jobs?  Who told them it was acceptable to be seen in public that way?  It was bad enough in the 80's when my high school peers all dressed that way...I certainly don't need to see people with wrinkles looking like that.

-  Kona, our new puppy, continues to provide us with much joy.  That said, if anyone has access to a pill that magically housebreaks puppies, I'm willing to pay a large sum of money.  Name your price.

-  Big day in Gainesville this coming Saturday...LSU comes to town at 3:30.  I think all reasonable Gator fans (some would say that there are no reasonable Gator fans...I'm looking at you Barati family) are more optimistic about this year's team than last year's team.  Count me in that group and count me as someone who thinks we have a good chance to beat LSU this year.  It will come down to the trenches though.  Our offensive line needs to let our running game succeed and give our young QB time to throw.  Our defensive line needs to make sure LSU's offense gets neither of those things.

If you managed to stay awake long enough to make it this far, thanks for reading.  Thanks also for the continued prayers and support...it is very much felt and appreciated.  Let's hope next week's blog post has the same boring title.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Weekly Update

It was a good week away from chemo.  My counts held up pretty well and I didn't need any transfusions of whole blood.  I only had to get 1 bag of platelets (down from 2 bags last week).  All in all, I can't complain.  Chemo starts up again this wek with infusions on Tuesday and Friday.

In non-medical news, there were a few highlights:

-  Our dog search has ended successfully.  See photo below of Kona, our two-and-a-half-month old golden retriever mix that we adopted from a local rescue organization.  She is a sweetie and we're not sure what else besides golden she has in her to make her a "mix".  I guess time will tell.  We'll be glad when she's housebroken.

-  Thanks for all your prayers and good wishes for my stepmother, Kathy.  She is now back home after her knee surgery and doing well.

-  The Gators are 4-0 with a bye week before taking on LSU at The Swamp.  We'll see what the Gators are made of on Oct 6.  Meanwhile, FSU looks like they might be the real deal this year.

Thanks again to everyone for your thoughts and prayers.  A special thanks to everyone who brought us food.  There are some amazing cooks in our circle of friends and we really enjoyed all the variety of great meals.

I'll have more to report next week including a recap of our visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Pottter at Universal Studios.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Weekly Update

Another week and another week outside of the hospital...yippee!!  I finished up my chemo cyle yesterday and am looking forward to an upcoming rest week with no chemo.  I had to get a couple of bags of platelets during the week, but didn't need to get any blood transfused.  My counts are still pretty low, so I may need to get some more blood during the off week...we'll see how things progress.  All in all...good news on the medical front.

In this week's other headlines:

-  A big shout out to my relatives in Massachussetts who participated in the Race for Research in support of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.  See the photo of the members of the Fortney, Tambascio, Duplessis, Walker and Burns clans who braved rainy weather and raised over $1,600 for Myeloma reseach.  Thanks to you all!!

-  My Dad's household is attempting to set a knee surgery world record.  My Dad had both his knees replaced this summer and his wife, Kathy, went under the knife on Thursday.  Our thoughts and prayers are with Kathy as she begins recovery and rehab.

-  Speaking of world records, I'm writing this at halftime of the Florida vs Tennessee football game as the Gators attempt to set a new record for pass interference penalties.

-  The Beairds are officially in the market for a dog.  We've spent a lot of time searching Orlando-area rescue organizations, SPCA, etc for a nice lab mix or retriever mix (or something similar), but have come up empty so far.  If you know of a nice dog looking for a good home...let us know.

Thanks again to everyone for all your support and prayers.  Enjoy your time with family and friends.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Couple of Updates

It has been a week since I last posted, and although there are no monumental events to share, I thought I would give everyone a recap of some things that have happened over the last 7 days.

On the medical front, on Tuesday, I started another cycle of chemo.  This means that I'll visit the docotor's office four times over 14 days for infusions of several different drugs.  I'll then go for 7 days with no treatment and that will conclude the 21-day cycle of treatment.  The next 21-day cycle will start at the end of my 7-day rest period.  My blood counts are still pretty low, so I got a blood transfusion yesterday (2 bags of whole blood and 1 bag of platelets) to boost those levels back up (don't forget to donate blood and platelets if you can...people actually use them!).  This pattern of chemo followed by transfusion might continue for awhile until the chemo takes hold and knocks back the myeloma far enough to allow my counts to rise.  The photo below shows me at the end of a bag of blood...you can see that the bag on the rack  looks pink instead of red as it gets to the end.

Now that the boring stuff is out of the way, here are some other things that happened this past week:

My smart, beautiful and all-around awesome wife celebrated a birthday.  You'll have to ask her how old she is...I'm not dumb enough to spill that information.

The Gators (once again) looked shaky in their season opener against Bowling Green.  This Saturday they travel to College Station to take on Texas A&M.  They'll have to play a lot better to win this week.

I shaved off my beard.  It seems like a shame since it took 3 weeks to grow it out, but the novelty had worn off.  No way was I going to take the time and effort to keep it trimmed.  Plus, it was getting harder and harder to get any kisses from Jen and Shannon.  For the record, Aaron was the only who noticed that I had shaved.

That's it for now.  As always, thanks to everyone for your prayers, your visits, your gifts, your food and all of your support (thanks Uncle Jim for helping out during the transfusion).  I can't tell you how much easier it is to deal with all of this with such a great group of family and friends.  I feel extremely blessed to be so lucky.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Best Time of the Year!

I don't have anything new to report on the medical front (no news is good news!).  Next week should be more active as my chemotheray will resume on Tuesday.

So, let's talk about college football instead.  I love the start of college football season.  I love it even more when I get to watch opening night from my own couch instead of a hospital bed.  It will be fun to watch my Gators kick off the season on Saturday against the mighty Falcons of Bowling Green State University.  The last few years haven't been kind to the UF football program, but, despite what many experts are saying, I think we're in for a good season in 2012. 

Win or lose, it will be fun to watch.  Plus, it's now a lot easier for me to remember that football is just a game and not a matter of national security.  I'm pretty sure that the world will continue to spin on its axis whether or not the Gators win or lose each week.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Out of Hospital!

Most people like to end their summers with a stay at a nice beach resort.  This year, I broke tradition and opted for a stay at a luxurious hospital instead.  As much fun as it was to be constantly poked, prodded and awakened at all hours of the night, I'm happy to report that my hospital vacation ended last night after a 3-week visit.

As nice as it is to be home with my family and sleeping in my own bed, I still have a lot of medical "fun" ahead of me.  I'll continue to spend a lot of time at the hospital getting my blood tested, getting chemotherapy and continuing to beat back the cancer.

I'll continue to use the blog to keep folks up to speed on my progress. Thanks again to all those who stopped by the hospital, phoned, texted, sent cards, said prayers, delivered meals and otherwise helped me and my family.  While in the hospital, I had a lot of contemplation time and one thing that became clear is that it's much easier to attack a problem when you know there is a great support system behind you and your family.  We are truly blessed to have such great family and friends.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

I'm Back!!!

When I last left you, I was finishing up my recovery from a stem cell transplant that I went through to treat the multiple myeloma that I was diagnosed with in May 2007.  The good news is that I got about a year of remission out of the transplant.

The bad news is that the remission is now over and I'm fighting the myeloma again.  As part of the fight, we're concentrating on two things: (1) we're using chemotherapy to treat the multiple myeloma (2) the effects of the chemotherapy are very damaging to my kidney (I was born with only one kidney), so we're closely monitoring the impact of the chemo on my kidney.

I'll use this blog to keep you posted on the progress of the two-pronged fight.  Currently, the fight is being launched from Florida Hospital in Orlando (near Princenton Street and I-4).  I expect to be in the hopsital for a few more weeks, but will keep you posted as things develop.  I've already been in 5 different rooms in the two weeks that I've been in the hospital, so I should have plenty of interesting things to report.

Until then, please make sure you enjoy your  family and friends...there is no better way to spend your time.  Thanks very much to the representatives of the Beairds, Terios, Hayes, Shavemakers, Riches, Duxburys, Wilkes, Coopers, Chans, Myers, Kruckemyers, Thomsons, Knights, Josephs, Williams, Flaskeys, Alfanos, Baratis (3 generations), Morriss-Websters, Tyndalls, Bramuchis, Morrisseys, and Desforges who have already been by to visit.  I'm sure I'm missing some folks...so my aplogies for doing so.