Friday, February 27, 2009

Another week another two medical appointments. A week without going to a doctor is to be treasured.

Monday I went to the imaging center for a swallowing test. I cannot eat anything; I am dependent on my feeding tube for nourishment. This test was to see why I can't eat.

First I was backed up, standing, against this board, with the imaging machine in front of me. I was given a pill, about half inch in diameter, and a glass of water. I was supposed to swallow the pill with water. Despite my Herculean effort, I could not do it.

Then the board and machine were tilted until I was lying on the board with the imaging machine above me. An assistant held a glass of thick milky liquid; I was supposed to drink that through a straw. I did get a little down.

Then I lay on my stomach and drank a swallow of the liquid.

The purpose of these tests is to determine why I cannot eat. Two possibly reasons, because of lax muscles I can't swallow correctly or my esophagus has narrowed and is too small for food to go down.

I believe that Tuesday he will tell me that it is the later and I will have to have my esophagus stretched. I don't know what this will entail.

Thursday Julia and I went to Nashville to see Dr. Netterville at Vanderbilt. This time I watched as they put a camera up my nose and down my throat. My throat looked nicely pink and even. An improvement even I could see.

On the down side, there was foamy saliva everywhere. My saliva is thick, foamy, and sticky. This is supposed to improve with time.

The junior doctor blew much more numbing medicine up my nose than usual. Since then I have been suffering from cold symptoms on that side of my head.

In the end, Dr. Netterville said to come back in June.

Then Julia and I left to go spend the night at Anne's.

For supper, Anne and Ken went to a new barbecue place in Nolensville for barbecue and the fixings. The place is run by a man who formerly went to Freed-Hardeman in Henderson and worked for Jacks Creek barbecue, one of the best places in Chester County.

George entertained us with stories of his teacher and his substitute teacher. His teacher dropped a desk on her toe and crushed it. He was sent for the nurse but he took a while because people kept asking him what was happening. His teacher was lying on the floor bleeding.

She had surgery that afternoon. The man substituting told some stories about "bodily secretions" that Julia and I were not allowed to hear. I was glad. People usually know if I would not enjoy something.

Anne's new sun room is big and lovely. They finally got the electrical inspection over and the floor will be put down this weekend. Then they can move into it the nice new furniture in their garage.

I believe that Tuesday I will be told that my throat is narrowed because Dr. Netterville and Dr. Studtmann both have been in touch with me to recommend GI doctors to do the procedure.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Today I went to two doctors' appointments. That was two down but three more appointments were made.

First at 9:30 was Dr. Studtmann, the ENT doctor. He is following a place on the back of my tongue. He says it definitely isn't normal but not much is normal in my mouth. He may biopsy it next time.

He made an appointment for me to go have a swallowing scan, to see why I can't swallow and another appointment with him to tell me the results.

This afternoon I went to see my Ole Miss doctor. He says he will send me to get another PET scan in two or three months. He makes another appointment for me in April.

I learned that this junk hanging under my chin is fluid. It should go away but probably some will be left.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

On Monday I had a PET scan and on Tuesday I got the word that it showed no cancer.

This was totally unexpected by me. I had told Anne and Julia, who went with me, not to expect good news.

Of course, I had had nice daydreams where Dr Georgios told me that, but mostly I imagined this meeting where I got bad news and I thought how I would handle it. I hoped that the cancer he found would be small enough for surgery.

Monday Julia took me to the Imaging Center at the hospital. I can drive now but Julia has gone to so many appointments with me that I guess she just wants to see it to the end, and, in my book, Julia has been so good to me that Julia gets what she wants.

I previously had a PET scan last fall which pinpointed exactly where the cancers were in my neck. For the PET scan, first I go into a small room, nicely decorated, with credenza, lamp, and recliner.

The nurse puts some fluid into my arm. Then she turns the light off and leaves me lying back on the recliner for 45 minutes. The first time I went I thought I would read during this time, but I can do nothing. I think I went to sleep both times.

The radioactive stuff they put into my veins is picked up by active cells. Since the cancer cells are fast growing, they grab more of the dye and thus show up on the PET scan.

Eventually the nurse came back and took me to the scan room. The PET scan looks very similar to the CT scan. I lie down on the narrow bed and then I go back and forth into the doughnut for about 15 minutes.

By the way, my nurse was blonde, blue eyed, and stunningly beautiful.

I didn't worry that much about the results because I was so sure that the news would be bad.

Monday night Anne drove down from Nashville.

The last time my news was so critical was last summer when that PET scan revealed that the cancer had not spread beyond my neck. If it had, my life would be over in months.

I gave Anne the good news that time by phone. She was in a teacher training session. She had just been called upon and was in front of all the other teachers showing teaching techniques, when her phone rang.

She just said "I'm sorry, but I have to take that." And she walked out.

But this time she took a day off to go with me.

When my children are here, I feel like a child, an eager child. Anne sleeps late when here, especially when she is by herself. So Tuesday morning, I am all excited, wanting to spend time with her.

Finally she does get up and we had a good morning together.

We drive to Jackson in her car, to my old haunt, the radiology department at the hospital. It doesn't take long to get in the treatment room and then Dr. Georgios comes in with the good news.

He mentions that there is a small chance of a false negative or maybe there are small cancers. I know that but this is the best news we could have gotten. In mathematics we call this "necessary but not sufficient."

Anne kept trying not to cry. We were all jubilant.

This is one of those occasions where you feel it is only appropriate to go out to eat to celebrate. Alas, I have a feeding tube and can't.

I did go out with the Ruckers once. I got a Dr. Pepper.

Anne and I stopped at WalMart. I bought a bookcase and gifts for her children. She left not long after we got home.

I haven't fully realized what this means. I need to put more effort into exercise and getting off the feeding tube. What else I don't know.

I am so grateful to all my friends and relatives who prayed for me, visited, sent cards, and letters, etc. It helped.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

I am posting an essay George wrote. I find it amusing that our little engineer thought ahead to put patches in his backpack in case the raft sprang a leak. I think he suddenly thought about adjectives at the end.

I have considered whether to correct the spelling or print it as written. Nolensville Elementary teaches using some reading method that encourages analyzing literature and then writing using that method. Things like spelling correctly in these essays are not penalized.

If I Was on an Island

by George Rucker

If I got shipwrecked on an island with just my magical backpack I would want a big empty milk jug, and an inflatable life b oat for just one person. Some other stuff I would want is some sticky patches for the lifeboat if it pops, a month's supply of food and some oars.

The way I would survive is I would want it to rain so I can fill up my big milk jug. Then I would try to blow up the small inflatable life boat. After that I would probably start to build camp. The way I would do that is I would find a tree that was big. Then I would start putting sticks around it and fill up all the holes with bark so no water gets in.

The next day the dark, gloomy sky would turn to a beautiful, happy, and sunny day. My big jug would have gotten filled. I would put the cap on the jug.

Then I would go and pack up all the food and take the jug and put it with the food in the inflatable life boat. Then I would get my oars and my backpack. After that I would go out to the blue clear sea and about an hour or two, I would see a small white fishing boat and that is how I would survive on an island.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

I read another book on the new science of baseball statistics, The Baseball Economist by JC Bradbury.

The only thing that matters for pitchers is DIPS. In the other post, I forgot to put hit by pitch on this list with walks, homeruns, and strikeouts.

This book is much more mathematical. I sometimes got lost. It is written by an economics professor.

He also discusses steroids in the book. James has been interested in this subject and he sheds some light on it. James has pointed out that glasses and laser surgeries and cortisone shots are artificial aids. So is Tommy John surgery.

Monday, February 02, 2009

There have been some notable deaths in my family since I got sick.

The day I entered the hospital Julia's sister-in-law Ann died. Ann had a heart transplant about ten years ago. She had a stroke earlier in the year from which she never really recovered. Ann was loved by all.

During that same hospitalization, we learned that George Rodney's brother Jerrell had died. I probably only saw him about five times myself. He was sort of the black sheep of the family but I remember him fondly because the the kindnesses he did for George Rodney when Jerrell was in high school and George Rodney was just starting school.

Then in December George Rodney's sister Dorothy died. This was a shock. She has always seemed so strong. But evidently her heart was not as strong as I thought.

Earlier in the year his sister Bebie died.

His four sisters have always been so good to me. I love them so much and so do my girls.

I do have one bit of good news. My brother James's full name is James Anderson Webb. He was named after my mother's brother George Anderson Seaton and my father's brother Robert Anderson Webb.

His step daughter had a baby boy last month who is named Garrett Anderson Denbow. Isn't that terrific!

I just finished reading a marvelous book, Moneyball. It is about baseball and statistics, but not the usual content.

This is about Billy Beane, the manager of the Oakland A's, who does well with a payroll a fraction of the other teams.

Odd things I learned:

A good hitter should have one walk for every ten at bats.\

On base percentage is the only statistic that counts for hitters.

The only things that count when judging pitchers are walks, strikeouts, and home runs.

The book shows an entirely new way to look at baseball.

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