Prostate Cancer

September 24, 2017 — Leave a comment

I learned today at church that a friend is to have prostate surgery Oct. 4th and I shared with him my experience of 15 years ago. Because of an increase in my PSA test I agreed to have a biopsy of the prostate gland. Now, that is not a real pleasant experience but saved my life. The lab almost missed it but they did fine a small bit of cancer. My Doctor started to give me three options but I interrupted and said, take it out. I knew too many men, including relatives, who had chosen the other 2 or 3 options and they died of the cancer.

I met with my urologist and he said that he would do the traditional surgery but that I was a prime candidate for the new Da Vinci surgery at Methodist Hospital. The only Doctor to do that type of surgery in Indianapolis was Dr. Jones and an appointment was made and after a bone scan we met and he explained the entire procedure and then asked if we had any questions. I had one, how do you remove the prostate gland from the abdomen and he replied that they place the gland in a cloth sack and then remove it, made good sense to me.

So, the surgery was scheduled for 9:00 AM on a Friday morning and according to the doctors instruction I had nothing to eat on Thursday except clear liquids and at 5:00 PM I started the cleansing protocol and drank almost all of a gallon of the nasty stuff. I’m sure you have had the experience of the cleansing protocol and it is not on your list of things you really like to do but you do them when you have to.

We arrived at the hospital at the prescribed time and they prepared me for surgery and 9:00am arrived and no Doctor. 9:30 AM and no doctor. 10:00 and the doctor arrives with this bit of information,” in case you haven’t heard the machine is down. The mother board is fried and there are none in Indianapolis and we are flying one in from the West Coast and it will be here early Monday morning. You have a choice to make; we can proceed with the traditional surgery with 6 to 8 weeks recovery or reschedule the Da Vinci surgery for Monday.”

I said, “I’ll wait till Monday. But, I have a question; I’ll have to do the cleansing procedure again won’t I?”

The Doctor replied, “Yes, if you eat anything.”

I then said, “what if I stay on the liquid diet until Monday, will I have to do the cleanse?”

The other Doctor in the room, the assistant if you will said, “you can’t do that!”

And I replied,” Yes I can. You want to bet.”

And the doctor said’” OK a nickel.” And the bet was on.

And Linda said.” yes he can.” And I did. Lost 10 pounds in the process but it was worth it!

The surgery was successful and I recovered in about three weeks and felt so good I laid Pergo flooring in the 24×24 family/dog room.

Gentlemen, if you’re not having PSA test every year you need to. Insist to your Doctor to have the test annually. Prostate Cancer is 100% curable if caught early. The surgery is nothing compared to other surgeries that take weeks to recover from.

Oh, one last thing, the SOB still owes me the nickel!

Thanks for listening,

Richard Isley

The Crotchety Old Man

 

Trees

September 21, 2017 — Leave a comment

As I look out my window onto the reservation the trees are just beautiful to see. They tell us about the weather like the weather rock we probably had at some point in our lives. If it’s wet it’s raining, if it’s dry the weather is fair, if it’s white it’s snowing and if it’s gone it’s been stolen. Now people don’t really steal trees but you get my drift.

The trees I see from here are looking pretty good for mid-September but I have noticed in a few drives the wife and I have taken that there are trees that look like they have been touched by frost and a few that are just changing color, and a few even that are bare of leaves. These bare trees may be dead but just driving by it’s hard to tell the difference. Even the squirrels appear to have thicker winter coats already.

The point I’m trying to make is that it is still summer and the trees are seriously looking like fall is here. I like fall but I like summer better. This year for me has been really different since I’ve been in hospitals and rehab and convalescing at home. The only time I got to see and feel outside was when I was taken to Doctors appointment or to the hospital for treatments. But, now that I’m allowed to be out by myself I can feel the fall weather coming. In fact I think I even smelled fall the other night setting on the patio.

If fall is early I hope it is a beautiful time and that the winter to follow is not too severe so that we all may enjoy.

Thanks for listening

Richard Isley

Crotchety Old Man

Makes me wonder

September 15, 2017 — Leave a comment

I am recovering from my many maladies of the last 9 months and am almost back to normal. I have always thought about the “older” men who are being driven around by their wives. How could you give up driving? Well I’ll tell you; having a chauffeur is really not too bad and even though I have started driving again being driven is really kind of nice and she is a very good driver.

Today we went to the Apple Works and bought 4 different kinds of apples and then went to Krogers for the next 3 days’ worth of food, got to have really green bananas. On the way to the orchard we drove by the solar farm just south of SR44 on SR 135. I think it is a wonderful thing that the  REMC is using “solar” to augment their supply of electricity and I really think that solar and wind power are the future for generating electricity. However, why take prime farm land out of production for the solar farm? There are thousands of acres in Johnson and surrounding counties that are not suitable for crop production, and less expensive. If we keep using productive farm land for houses and solar farms at some point we will run out of food producing acres and I don’t think we can live off of Solar energy.

Thanks for listening,

Richard Isley

The crotchety old man

Hearing Aid and a Dollar

September 4, 2017 — 1 Comment

I’ve already told about my 57 days in rehab at the FUMC, and during that time becoming stone deaf because of the radiation treatments on my head and getting a hearing aid and a week later it disappeared.

The word disappeared is Linda’s word. My word is stolen because after three searches by five or six different people it was not to be found and it did not walk out of the room by itself. It was stolen. And the management of the rehab facility took no responsibility and said it was my responsibility to safe guard my belongs while I slept.

So with that, I suppose the person who took the hearing aid was the same person who took my dollar bill book mark. I am sure they needed the dollar and hearing aid more than I did and I hope they enjoy.

Dollar bill book mark you ask? Yes, I use a dollar bill for a book mark because of a story I read in Readers Digest several years ago, perhaps 10 or so. The piece was from a father of a college student who went Christmas shopping with her two days before and they were in a book store and had been there for some time. Finally, the daughter found an item for her roommate, a book mark. They got in line to pay and it seemed like the line had not moved for several minutes/hours and finally the father asked, “how much is this book mark?” and the daughter replied, “a dollar.” Dad, being quick of thought, said, “why not just use a dollar?” Now that made a lot of since to me, and so I have used the dad’s advice ever since.

Hopefully who ever took my hearing aid and dollar book mark has made good use of them; the hearing aid for perhaps an aging relative and the dollar for a McDonald’s coke. However, let it be known the it only cost $300 to replace the $2300 hearing aid, but the dollar.

At that time in my life, my memories span was about two minutes, and so when the dollar was taken from the book I had no idea where it was and so I had to start reading at page one.

Thanks for listening.

Richard Isley
The crotchety old man

Chapter Three

I’m not sure when I was moved to rehab, and I’m not sure how long I was there until my memory started to return, but it seems like the last two weeks I have memory of most of what happened.

I know I was not a good patient and I apologize to those I offended, but I felt like a prisoner.

I was not allowed out of bed without someone to put a belt on me and escort me wherever I needed to go, even with a walker.

I could not leave the room for any reason without a “guard.” Even with the precautions, I fell at least two times while in rehab. During the last fall, I cracked my head pretty good and they brought the rehab doctor to see me. Good thing I didn’t have a hematoma.

The only thing I could do without being chastised was count the tiles on the ceiling. Don’t know how many times I counted them, but after I arrived at the total I couldn’t remember the number, and, so, I had to start over.

The food at the big house is not the best in the world, but it’s tolerable. The only item on the menu I really ate was tomato soup and the fruit cup. I did try to eat other things, but chemo pretty much killed my appetite and taste buds. I continued to lose weight despite daily lectures from my wife and daughter to eat more.

Physical therapy was a pain.

I needed physical therapy! I needed to walk again. My left leg did not want to work properly and that needed urgent rehab. I did not need to put pegs in holes or find little doodads in a bowl of rice or throw bean bags in a box. I needed to walk! Sometimes I snuck in extra PT of my own. Like standing for extended periods by the bed after I learned how to silence the escape alarm; going to the bathroom without telling anyone.

And, then there was the weekend therapist. He was great, a Jordanian immigrant who with his brother has a used car lot in Franklin. He understood the need for me to walk and that is all we did on his watch. He is a super person!

Toward the end of May, I was becoming almost paranoid about being a prisoner. I was interviewed twice by a psychiatrist and am sure that was ordered by the staff.

I was not a happy camper. I wanted to go home!

On May 24, I kind of threw a fit in PT and so the next day, Thursday, a meeting was called by social services.

Linda and I were there along with 2 FUMC employees. After a while, they agreed I would be better off at home and they would do the paperwork the following Monday.  At this point the old Allison manager came out and I may have intimated them a bit. I told them  if you worked for me and I wanted something done today and you told me I can’t it will be next week. I would replace you instantly and replace you with someone who could do what I wanted. I went home the next morning.

Of the cancer treatment I received, the chemo infusions totally disrupted my body and how it is supposed to work. The radiation causes burns. My right ear was burned so bad  it did not heal until mid-July. About the second week of May it became obvious I was stone deaf. If you didn’t talk very loudly into my left ear I had no idea of what you said. An appointment was made at Advanced Audiology just up the street from the big house. Dr. Ashley Watkins gave me a hearing test that confirmed I was stone deaf, but it was just volume related and with a hearing aid I would be able to hear. Because my right ear was still healing from the burns we just bought one hearing aid. $2,200 a week later I could hear, not perfect but I could hear. If you have hearing aids you know to take them out at bed time and I think most people put them on the night stand at bed side. I do that and was doing that at the rehab but on the morning of my release it, the hearing aid, was gone, $2,200 gone. We searched the room at least three times and it could not be found.

The response from the rehab folks was that they were not responsible for the loss. That was my responsibility. So I come home stone deaf and started my recovery.

Chapter Four

I’m not sure who started the St. Frances Home Care folks but they were everywhere and they were great! Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist, home Nurses, and home care.  Most came twice a week and were absolutely great getting me started on my recovery. After 2 weeks the OT guy, Jeff, said he was not needed any more. Just keep doing the 5 exercises twice a day. The nurses and there was more than one, came every week to check my vitals and to make sure I was making progress. The home care lady came twice a week to help me take a shower. And then there was Miranda, the PT girl whose 1st question was, “what do you want from me.” My reply was simply, I want to walk and Miranda said, “I can do that.” So for twice a week for 6 weeks Miranda and I walked and did exercise to help me walk. She did a great job and I am now walking with a cane and carrying my oxygen tank. I work every day to increase my endurance and under doctors orders I go without oxygen for a good bit of the day and evenings.

It has been a long journey that is still not over. I feel better and stronger every day. I have I guess, reached a plateau on my weight, I now weigh166# an increase of 25# from when I left the big house. Linda is a great care giver. I will see Dr. Ikhlaque in about 6 weeks for another scan to see what the dormant cancer is doing.  Hopefully it is still asleep.

As I wind down telling my story Linda and I talked about the past year.  I remarked that I occasionally have a remembrance flash, remembering something from the period of no memory.  We talked about when it all really started. She shared that some of my issues started at the time I discovered there was something wrong with my nose so I waited three weeks to get in to see Dr. Hollenkamp, ENT and he said those polyps are pretty bad and need to come out.  Surgery was done on 3/3/16 and my nose was stuffed full so I can’t breathe through my nose 27 days until the follow-up appointment. On 3/30/16 early morning the packing was removed and I could breathe through my nose. We left soon after and drove to Just west of St. Louis, MO. to the Purina Farms where I was scheduled to judge Miniature Schnauzers the next day something I had wanted to do for a long time. I managed to do the judging assignment but my COPD was getting worse by the minute. We drove home that afternoon and that evening I was admitted to the hospital. Five days later and feeling better I go home.  Oct. 10th I am back in the hospital with pneumonia. They know that because of the x-rays taken.  Every time I’m in the hospital they take x-rays and so over the past few years there have been at least 10 x-rays and nothing showed up about my cancer.  I’ve already said that in Dec. they took a CT scan and again failed to see the cancer. We all must trust our Drs. to make the best decisions but in my case I think they just failed.

All during the summer Linda says I started to change. She says I became emotional, depressed, forgetful, and complained about not being able to concentrate. Looking back I understand what she saw in me. I was on the downhill slide that I attribute to the cancer in my brain among other places.

My cancer is now after all the treatments dormant. According to Dr. Ikhlaque It will never go away so every three months I guess we will have a scan to make sure it is still dormant. I am not fully recovered and may never be but I feel like I am getting better every day.  I am finally back among the living!

When we were released from St. Frances, I fell at least 2 times coming into the house from the garage during the next few days. I am told that I fell two or three times in the bathroom.

Now the fun begins.

I am told I was setting at our dining room table and just fell out onto the floor and was unresponsive. Linda called the big house for help, I believe because she thought I was dead.  The head nurse, Montel, responded and was at the house in less than five minutes and  took over my care – from taking vitals to asking if I knew what happened.

After about two hours it was agreed I need to be taken to a rehab facility for my safety and to give Linda and Chris some rest and relief from the constant worry about my care.

I do not remember that move or being in a room in the big house.

I do, however, remember being in a wheel chair in a hall way with no idea why or where. Soon, it became apparent I was among a large number of “end of life” patients. I knewit must be night out because they are taking them back to their rooms and finally I am the only patient left. Now, I have also have determined that I am in the “big house” and even when I see someone I recognize they never speak. I remember seeing 3 or 4 firemen coming down the hall getting into the elevator and I watch a neighbor get out of the elevator and walk right past me and never said a word.  By now I am getting very confused and managed to start moving around in the wheel chair. I really got yelled at for that! I don’t remember being taken to bed.

The next thing I remember is Linda and Chris coming into my “room” and telling me we are going to a meeting with the floor staff. I don’t how long I was on the third floor before this meeting but I remember being pissed about what I considered poor care.  I remember being told that I was where I am because of a Flu epidemic in the rehab unit and as soon as that cleared I would be moved. I do remember being testy about the way I was being treated because I was not an end of life patient and did not appreciate being treated like one!

I do remember being readied to go to a Drs. Appointment when a nurses aid came into the room and said ‘”you can’t leave here looking like that. I need to shave you.”   And she did! I have no idea what happened the rest of that day.  I don’t remember being moved to the rehab unit and have no idea of how long I was on the third floor.  But, I do know I don’t ever want to go back there.

Not sure when but during this time on the third floor I continued chemo and radiation for my cancer and my memory and interaction with others continued to decline until Linda took me to St. Frances for a chemo treatment and as usual they take blood samples and then when the results are back you see the Dr. before receiving the chemo infusions. According to Linda I was totally unresponsive to Dr.Ikhlaque’s questions and he began questioning my behavior for the past few weeks. Finally Dr. Ikhlaque looked at all the drugs I was taking and discovered that one of my prescriptions had been changed to at least 12 times the previous dosage. That drug combined with the morphine I was taking for pain was having its toll on my brain. Orders were given to stop giving me the two drugs. Linda says the next morning I was almost normal. Not, but close! An aside; the visit before this one I had asked the Dr. When will we know that the pain in my back is gone.  And he said; guess we will have to take them away. Guess what? No pain that Oxycodone didn’t help as needed. So I guess Dr. was right.

I was in rehab for 57 days and except for the few days mentioned I don’t remember anything until the last 2 weeks. I know Linda and the kids were there every day and I had a visit from my stepson Christopher, from Louisville and a visit from my stepdaughter, Lisa from Denver. Which was probably more for mom than me but it was nice and Linda needed it.  My granddaughters, Brooke and Sidney, were also there several times. Also, there were visits from church friends and a few neighbors and those visits meant a lot to me even though I may not have shown it. The one person who ranks right up there with family is your preacher. Pastor Evie Stuart, Tabernacle Christian Church. Her visits and prayers were, if I may, life savers.  The love she has for God and Jesus and her parishioners is an amazing example of what Jesus meant when he said, “Love thy neighbor as thy self.” Thank you Pastor Evie!

If I may, one thing that I missed for about 8 months was being in the Church.  The Tabernacle Christian Church was built in 1903 and remains today a prime example of early 20th century architecture. From the very first time I was in the sanctuary I felt the spirit of God and I feel that spirit every time I am there.  It was the 1st Sunday in this July that Linda and I went to church. In addition to all the handshakes and hugs the spirit of God was still there. That spirit, that feeling of God’s presence in that room was over whelming.  I have to say that I firmly believe that Jesus was and continues to be with me every step of the way. If that were not true I would not be here today.

In rehab my brain/memory was slowly recovering. I remember trying to say the Lord’s Prayer, I could not get all the words. It took almost a week for me to remember all the words. I remember a great feeling of accomplishment.