Saturday, July 21, 2007

Harry Potter VII

Got up relatively early for me on a Saturday and I was out of the house by about 9:45 and off to La Défense.

I got there at 10:05 just after the opening of the stores...

I was heading for FNAC as I knew they would have what I had come looking for. However when I got to the top of the escalator out of the parking lot right in front of me was Virgin Megastore and their entire entrance was devoted to the new release...

I ran in and took 3 copies of the shelves (1 for me, 1 for Alexandra and 1 for Jessica) and then got sucked in to the store... it's absolutely enormous! I strolled around for a while. I had the books in my hands so I had nothing to worry about. I ended up buying a whole bunch of magazines (digital stuff, computer stuff, stereo and audiofile sutff, ...) and by the time I got to the cash registers there were queues everywhere.

But it was really funny to see so many people with the book in their hands... some adults were literally trying to hide the book while they were in the queue hoping no one would notice what they were buying...

I left the stored with 3 copies, got to the car and back home by 11:00.

At 11:15 I started reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (aka Harry Potter VII). Please leave me alone for a few days as it's going to take me a while to get through over 600 pages...

Friday, July 20, 2007

Another doctor's appointment

This evening we went for a family doctor appointment. All four of us went back to our old neighbourhood (Paris XVth) to see Dr. Girard who we've known for years.

Jessica went first as she was then heading off to Brittany for a bit of holiday with a friend. Alexandra followed, then Desney and then me. I take the longest...

Most of his comments were how pleased he was that I had regained my original weight and I was looking healthy. We started by going over the results of my last visits with Dr. Hagège and he was pleased. We went over how the visits should be twice-yearly as of next year, rather than quarterly, depending on my CAT scans and then perhaps annually after 5 years. I had mentioned that my goal was to reach the magic figure of 5 years when I would be considered "clean". He smiled and then got very serious. "We used to consider that after 5 years the cancer had been eliminated. We no longer make that declaration. It could come back in 7 years, in 10 years, in 15 years or at any point. Every year you go without cancer the less likely it is to come back. But it is always a possibility and we will have to be extremely careful and vigilant for the rest of your life however long that may be."

Well that host my hopes down and was pretty much an emotional shot to my optimism...

I then brought up what has been bothering me and which I did/do not know is related to the cancer or not. Often, not every time but often, when I need to pee I have to go then and there. I can't wait long. I will not go in to too many details but it's a definite urgency. He went in to great details in his question (flow rates, in the night or not?, timing before and after, ...). I had always thought that it was just because I drink so much water and so constantly now. He is now sending me off for sonographies of that whole area (bladder and prostate), blood tests, urine tests... the works. I'm really looking forward to it... not!

He then examined me fully... when he looked in my throat he immediately said my tongue was still very "hairy". I told him that it basically always has been since the treatment. He said we had to continue to treating it so as to avoid fungus (mushrooms), infection and such. As my mouth is dry, and lacks saliva, it is much more susceptible to infection and problems. He now is going to have me gargling with bicarbonate of soda after every meal and then brushing my tongue with Fungizone twice a day. Something else to look forward to...

I then asked him when we could remove the catheter port in my chest. He said that normally they would think of removing it 2 years after the end of treatment. For me that would be December 9th, 2007. He also said that often people just leave it in for the rest of their lives. *IF* the cancer ever comes back it's one less intervention to not have to put the catheter port back in. I told him I would prefer to have it out as it bothers me both psychologically and physcially to have it there. He said we'll go over the possibility again after my next PET scan results (October) and before the Christmas holiday period.

I explained that my allergies had come back and he gave me a new prescription for the same old tablets.

Next step is to go through all of the various tests (sonographies, blood and urine tests, ...) and to go back to see him to go over the results. There is always a risk of prostate cancer or bladder cancer... but I should't worry...

Yeah... right... me worry?


Saturday, July 14, 2007

Nothing but good news

Very busy day today. An installation and a meeting in the morning where I showed up ready to install 2 or 3 things and there were 3 more things waiting for me. I was quite impressed with myself that when I left, on time, everything worked. I was impressed not just because of my usual technological prowess but because I was able to keep my mind on what I was doing. Off to a second meeting, without lunch, where just about everything went wrong. This is for the installation of a new telephone system (IP-based) which I'm overseeing. The telephone company delivered the wrong rack (too big); the telephone installer had just left on holiday; the telephone company (France Télécom) were supposed to be there between 14:00 and 15:00 did not show; the telephone company claimed that they would not have some of the parts in time and on and on.

No matter what at 15:00 I took my Xanax, brushed my teeth and started to prepare myself for the event of the day which my mind kept wandering back to. At 15:20 I left and headed off for my quarterly checkup with Dr. Hagège.

I was just reading my Blog Entry for my last visit in March. The experience was basically exactly the same. All of the same comments apply and even the same subjects of discussion.

The important point for me was that throughout the grueling exam he kept saying "parfaitement normal" or "très bien" or "souple et sans odème" all the sorts of things I wanted to hear. Of course my eyes were closed so I could not see on the huge screen whatever he was referring too and tears tend to run down my face during the exam which blurs my vision as well. But it was still a psychologically great feeling to hear an endless flow of positive statements while he was doing these things to me.

In the end when we sat down for our discussion his first words were "rien que des bonnes nouvelles" (nothing but good news). He then summarised with the same things he had said in March:
  • A PET scan in October

  • Quarterly exam with him in October with the results

  • If the PET scan results are good then I will start seeing him every 6 months rather than every 4 months

  • Visit with my general practitioner in October, if the PET scan results are good, to discuss removing the catheter from my chest and the rest of the evolution of my situation

I left there feeing physically awful as usual but psychologically quite uplifted. Another four months have gone by and I still do not have any cancer they can find and my throat is healing fine and my vocal chords are still intact and functioning.

I went home and put myself to bed as usual. I got up around 19:45. My nose and throat felt pretty bad. We ordered out Japanese (easy to swallow) and sat back and watched a movie.

After the movie was over I took the girls out to the Seine for the Asnières fireworks and July 14th party. The fireworks themselves were pretty unimpressive and disappointing in comparison to previous years. The dance scene was fun and we danced in the heat with hundreds of other Asnièrois for a while. The music wasn't that great and we finally headed home about half past midnight.

Home and to sleep... dreams of a healthy body, my future PET scan, getting the catheter ripped out of my chest, the day when I no longer have to go through these exams, the doctor saying "rien que des bonnes nouvelles" over and over in my head...

And... preparing myself with childish excitement for the arrival of the 7th, and final, Harry Potter book next Saturday!

I am going to be around, and healthy, to read and thoroughly enjoy it!