Below are all of the posts from 2014 on my old site archived into this one post. They are now in chronological order for easier reading/navigation.
My Tale of Back Pain
Well I figured I’d tell my story about my back pain and what it became over a couple months, so here we go.
Late September I started to feel a little achy in my lower back. I figured it was just normal fatigue from bad posture and a not so great desk chair, combined with stress and overtime. I just took some ibuprofen as needed.
Throughout October the condition seemed to worsen gradually but slowly. I just figured I needed more rest and less stress. I also started to blame my worn out mattress. Ibuprofen continued.
Finally in mid November, the pain was getting really bad and I was getting weak so I went to the local after hours clinic to get it checked out. Based on the symptoms, it was then diagnosed as a lumbar strain/sprain and I was prescribed naproxen anti inflammatory. This seemed to help for a week or two. There were a few nights where the pain was so intense that laying down was impossible so I would prop myself up to relieve that. On a couple other nights I tried some medical marijuana edibles, and those worked great for getting to sleep.
Mid December the pain and weakness was getting worse, sciatic nerve pain, weak legs, and a numbness was starting to kick in to my lower half. Took a suggestion from my cousin to check out a chiropractor. Makes sense since the issues were stemming from my back. Got a quick evaluation, TENS therapy, and physical massage therapy. Felt relaxed for once. And was scheduled to go back in a couple days for full x rays and further review. That same day I went back to the clinic to have another look/follow-up. In case you are wondering why I went to the after hours clinic instead of making an appointment, it was just more convenient to stroll in on a Saturday afternoon. This time they took xrays and all looked fine. The doctor suggested I lay flat on my back with my legs elevated as this could help ease the pain and relieve pressure on the nerves. I did this procedure and it was quite painful.
Few days later, Dec 26 I believe. Went back to chiropractor, full xrays, spoke with physical therapist and a medical doctor. Prescribed robaxin muscle relaxer to help ease the muscles. Xrays mostly good, vertebral subluxation in the lowest disk was the only thing that seemed potentially like an issue. Chiropractor gets things going for an MRI so they can see the nerves. Had my massage therapy and TENS therapy, and continued these treatments on an almost daily basis.
At this point I’m just getting by waiting for the MRI date to be determined, I’m still able to walk and drive, and Jan 2nd I’m on my way to Vegas for a belated new year’s weekend. There had been some more gradual weakening that week but I was still determined to enjoy my vacation. I took it easy by Vegas standards since I knew I had issues and had a great time for the first couple days.
Sunday morning I woke up and noticed a considerable downgrade in my condition. My balance and strength was really going downhill. I lost my balance due to lack of strength getting up off the toilet and fell over. Luckily I was low to the floor so only injury was a couple bruised toes and a bruise on my wrist. I crawled back to the room and just decided to rest in bed all day hoping to recover. My girlfriend was the best in caring for me that day. She brought up some pizza for dinner and was very supportive. That pizza however had other motives. I felt it come on like a freight train with no brakes. I got up and started to make my way to the bathroom carefully while trying to hold it off. The numbness had moved up and was affecting my control ability at this point. I made it to the bathroom but not in time to drop the boxer briefs. Shittin your pants at 29 is an interesting thing. I decided to eat extremely light for the next week in order to not need to go through that again. I had considered going to emergency while in Vegas, but didn’t want be stranded out of state. Plus my MRI was coming this week, so I held off.
Monday morning had my girlfriend drive us home cause I didn’t have enough feeling in my feet to safely control the vehicle. She did great as she got used to my truck. Went straight to my chiropractor and he let me know the MRI would be Friday morning. Due to my condition, he signed a note for my work since there would be no way I could make it in the rest of that week. Picked up a cane at CVS before going home and that helped me get around the house for a couple days. Thursday I moved to using a walker and Friday morning my mom drove me down to get the MRI. I was excited to finally be getting the test to figure out what was wrong. Grabbed a copy of the disk and went to chiropractor. Chiropractor needed results from the radiologist though since he didn’t have the software to read the disk. It would be up to 5 days. That night when I went to bed I was weaker than ever and in much pain.
Saturday Jan 11, woke up and could not get up at all with the walker and assistance. That’s when I decided, it’s time to go to emergency. The firemen lifted me from my bed and put me into my computer chair to roll me to the porch where they transferred me to the gurney. Loaded up into the ambulance and off we went to Whittier Presbyterian hospital. All throughout was nonstop questions and analysis but everyone was very polite and the level of service and care was outstanding. Got checked into emergency and my biggest fear was getting poked with the iv and getting blood drawn lol needles just give me the heebie jeebies. The emergency nurse was very nice and I got through the needles OK. We brought that MRI disk with us and the doctors checked it out right away. That scan was only on my lumbar but there was something showing at the top edge. Within the next hour or so I was off to have a full spinal MRI. They determined that there was a tumor growing against my spinal cord. Hmm no wonder I had issues! The news was actually relieving because I now knew that it could be fixed, and in another hour or so I was off to be operated on by an amazing neurosurgeon.
Propofol is a hell of a drug. Coming out of anesthesia I was loopy as hell eating soft ice chips and talking to the nurses about marijuana cookies. I spent the next couple days in the ICU while initially recovering from the surgery and the care and service was amazing. Liquid diet for a couple days but they had some delicious broth. Pain was only present for a few days and was just due to the surgery recovery. My other pain had been healed and the only thing to recover now would be my strength and feeling in my lower half. I transferred up to a more regular room and got put on a regular food diet. I was very impressed with the food and began posting it on instagram. Still plenty of meds for the recovery and they began to pump me full of laxatives since I hadn’t crapped since Vegas. The rooms were very nice and had nice big Samsung TVs with decent assortment of local and cable channels. The nurses and aides were beyond anything I could have asked for. The care level blew my mind. My whole perception of hospitals was shifted in a positive way. After a day or two I was being transferred to the acute rehab section to focus on getting me back on my feet. At this time I pretty much was no longer in pain and therefore didn’t need any more norcos.
While I had just gotten into the acute rehab, they had gotten the results from the pathologist on the tumor biopsy and discovered it was cancerous, a form of lymphoma. I would be transferring back into the main hospital while waiting for a room at USC Norris cancer center where I could be further treated in some of the best hands in the world. Had another nice day or two of amazing care and great meals and a couple little tests, before loading up into the ambulance for transfer to USC Norris on Friday Jan 17. The drive over was nice to see some old familiar streets and the ambulance dudes were cool to chat with along the way.
Arrival at USC Norris, the rooms here are a bit smaller as are the TVs, but they have special features like games and on demand movies and other conveniences. The nursing staff here is beyond amazing as are the doctors and everyone else I have encountered. Upon arrival and check in, my first procedure was a bone marrow biopsy. Not as bad as it sounds really. Done right in the bed in my room, they basically drill out a tiny piece of hip bone and suck out some marrow to analyze. Numbed up so no real pain. The ladies who performed it were very nice and informative and offered me photo ops and a souvenir vial. The first meal I had here was dinner that night and it started off with a shrimp cocktail. I instantly knew I was in a good place! The menu options here include everything from burgers to pasta, lamb, pork, prime rib, lobster tail, and everything under the sun. Plenty of different choices each day that you circle on the menu card the day before. Haven’t been disappointed yet! They really strive to comfort and care for you. Extra munchies are available thru the TV as well if needed or the nurses can hook it up with some basics.
Anyways the weekend was a little slow but relaxing, had some good physical therapy sessions and nice meals, along with plenty of family visitors. Monday the 20th I got my ct scan for further analysis of my condition, and Tuesday had a MUGA scan complete with nuclear medicine. Also Tuesday I got my picc line put in, which is a tube that runs through one of my veins from my left upper arm to my chest for central distribution of meds. It is basically a beefier iv that can last for months to a year without needing to be removed. They can also draw blood through it so I don’t have to get my arms all poked and taped everyday lol. It is much more comfortable and convenient than a regular iv.
Wed Jan 22, spoke with the amazing team of doctors again today and things are sounding great! They haven’t detected the disease anywhere else in my system after all the tests and are just waiting to reanalyze the biopsy from the other hospital to finalize and confirm the diagnosis and treatment. They also offered me the opportunity to bank some sperm before treatment begins in case of fertility issues from the chemo drugs. I’m feeling great and I had another awesome physical therapy session where I used a machine that helps me learn how to stand again. Awesome to get some use out of my legs again and can’t wait to continue to strengthen up. I’ve got exercises I can do in my bed as well to help and I’ve been trying to be as independent as possible within my room to force myself to use the muscles. Other than what bit of disease is left in me, I feel healthier than I have in a year and once I’m back on my feet I will be living a more active lifestyle with more time outdoors and less time being lazy. After being stuck in bed for this long, it makes you never want to be lazy again. The main thing to remember in a situation like this is to just stay positive and hope and pray for the best. Stress and worry will do no good and may actually make things worse. When the situation is out of your control, you just have to work at the things you are able to like physical therapy, keeping busy, and resting up, and let the doctors, medicine, and god do the rest. I have had plenty of support from friends and family as well, which is also a huge boost to keeping up my positive energy.
That is my story so far up to today, I will have to continue later when I have an update. Thanks for reading! Glad to share my tale!
Hospital Update 1-24-2014
Hectic morning! First time I’ve been even a little stressed through this whole thing. Talked to doctors and nurses and social worker and cryobank and plenty of others today with various updates and statuses. All positive.
My mom was able to transport her “potential grandkids” to the cryobank this morning successfully after some issues with directions getting there. Will find out results on specimen later. Need to apply for the benefit from livestrong since insurance doesn’t cover cryofreezing. Great service provided for fertility insurance. And won’t end up costing much 🙂
Right after that whole thing I get notified that the biopsy is back at Whittier Presbyterian from the lab they had it checked at and NOW it needs to be transferred here. Good to know its ready but its been taking its time getting around. So as mom was getting on her way to work from the cryobank, I let her know that I had some last minute transportation needs again. Since it is Friday, if they get the stuff here soon they can start treatment with this final piece of the puzzle, which seems to be the only piece of the puzzle.
Mom is on the way with the pathology stuff! Woohoo! Thank you for being the best transporter!
Paperwork for disability has gotten completed and returned to me today as well. Everything is falling into place and treatment can begin soon! Just have to keep my positive attitude and stay strong to get through the possible side effects of the determined drugs. I am not worried though as the care level here has been beyond anything I could imagine.
That’s all for this update!
1-25-2014 AM Update
I posted on Twitter yesterday but wanted to add here that I took my first steps since Jan 10th with the assistance of the Sara Plus standing machine. Did some sit n stands and walked the hall a bit. Felt good to get some more use of those muscles, and can’t wait to build them back up. Physical therapy has been great! Been transferring into a chair for a few hours to sit up and work other muscles as well, and try to have one of my meals while out of bed as well. My overall movement and strength is coming back though so I am able to sit up and move around quite well in bed, as well as reaching for items and whatnot. As awesome as the nurses and staff are here, I try to be as independent as possible because it benefits my growth and strength.
As of now the final verification of the diagnosis is being determined in the pathology lab here, though since it is the weekend I’m not sure exactly when it will be finalized. Either way it will be soon and the treatment can be determined and started. The staples need to be removed from my back still as well, all 19 of them. The incision is healing beautifully though. Everything else is going great, no pain, all vitals are consistent and healthy, daily success with bedpan, the iv drip still has me peeing constantly in urinal jugs, and meds and blood drawings don’t phase me due to the picc line so there are no extra pokes.
My best bud Chris stopped by to visit last night as well and brought a spam musubi for a late night snack. Loved it! Had a nice visit and though I have been doing pretty good keeping occupied, company is always an extra special treat. I am very appreciative for everyone supporting me through this and hope that I can be just as supportive in return if ever there is a need.
Just a small update since earlier, cryobank called with results this afternoon and said all was good and above average so I’ve got that insurance for the future. So as soon as the doctors and pathologist make their final decisions, treatment can begin and I’ll find out the plan and schedule for that. Doctor recommended that I eat more fish too so I guess I’ll have to get sushi more often 🙂 Also briefly met the doctor that will be in charge of me when I am on outpatient treatment after my legs heal.
Had some good visits today, first with friends Ralph and Sam, and later with Mom, Jen, and Uncle Gary. More great care today, and nice salads for my lunch and dinner. No physical therapy today but I’m going to do my exercises before bed to strengthen my legs a bit more. Got my staples cleaned and covered with a fresh tape to keep from getting snagged on stuff lol hopefully they will remove them soon since the incision is looking nice.
Vitals good and still pissin! Lol
1-26-2014 AM Update
Just talked with the doctors and things are sounding great! They have a final meeting tomorrow at 4 to determine between two different courses of treatment. They are weighing out the pros/cons/risks/effects of the two. Since my case is so contained and not spreading they seem to be leaning toward the less intensive treatment so I would have less side effects, but they will know by tomorrow night for sure and treatment can start Tuesday morning.
Just wanted to let you all know that things are going even better than I imagined so far! Just have to keep at that physical therapy and I’ll be back in action in no time.
Relaxing yet Productive Sunday
Had some more great visits with friends and family today. Aunt Cindy and Uncle Shawn brought Adrian down, Mom and Jen came again, and Greg and Kyle stopped by with a red sauce quesadilla. Good stuff! Unfortunately, Dad couldn’t make it today cause the house was falling apart, but someone’s gotta fix it! Can’t have leaky pipes and stuck on ceiling fans! 😉
Did my taxes today via Turbotax on my tablet. Quick, simple, no issues, getting money back! Also ordered some current allocations through my Bruery Hoarders membership before it was too late.
Legs still improving, though no therapy session today. I’m making sure to do my exercises as much as possible when I can. Getting my picc line dressing changed shortly so that will be nice and clean again as well.
Monday Night Update, Treatment Begins!
The doctors have got things going and my first treatment is beginning shortly! 🙂 Getting some premeds for anti nausea first so that is relieving. That evening bowel movement sure made things feel right inside too! Cyclophosphamide is the first chemo drug that will be treating me every 12 hours for the first 5 days. We’ll see how things change up after that for the future treatments. Dietary will be checking back with me through the treatment as well to customize my diet if needed based on changes in appetite or taste. Everyone has been amazing in ensuring comfort here!
Hoping the drugs don’t affect my ability to work through physical therapy too much cause I really want to get back on my feet. Had a great session today, walked down the hall even further with the Sara plus machine and without the knee guards. Really felt a good burn and sweat today and even took a nap a little while afterwards. Got the paperwork finished for fertile hope which is a great cause that will cover a chunk of the cryobank costs for me. Next years taxes will be interesting with all the medical and disability claims this year but I’ll be feeling fine by then and Turbotax will make it easy enough again lol
More meds! Lol just got my steroids but they changed them to pill form instead of the iv, probably due to all the other iv fluids I’m getting hooked to. So instead of one syringe of steroids I had 8 tiny green pills, looked like a cup of sprinkles hahaha plus the muscle relaxer. The next iv I’m getting hooked to will be Mesna which will protect my bladder from issues from the chemo. And once that is running for a bit they will start the cyclophosphamide.
Feeling good about everything right now! Thanks for all the support!
Non Health Related Post
Just wanted to post about this because I thought it was quite interesting and somewhat coincidental. The image on the top of my blog is of warehouse 9 in San Pedro. I just thought it was a cool looking old architectural design and decided to snap a shot of it while down there one day. They have a little marketplace in the neighboring warehouse that was kind of neat to check out.
Well here is where the image got interesting to me this past week. As I started to blog my hospital stay to keep everyone updated and in the loop on my status, I got one of the complimentary newspapers that came around. Normally the paper is bulky to read and full of crap so I bypass it, but since I was stuck in bed I figured I might at well check it out. I discovered an article about warehouse no 9 and the future plans in store for it. A craft brewery and restaurant. I was instantly lit up with this energy due to the coincidence that I had just looked at the building on my blog that I just started typing on, and even further excited that it was announced to be relatable to one of my interests for craft beer and great food. I can’t wait to go check it out when it is up and running and maybe I’ll tell them my tale when I do. Just one of those little moments that makes you think and feel great, and perfect timing since I’m doing the hospital thing.
Round 2 Begins Shortly
First round of treatment went smooth with no side effects last night. Still had my appetite when I woke and feel good today. Second round starts around 10am so will prob push therapy back to the afternoon today. Pissin more than ever but that is a good thing keeping hydrated. Been drinking plenty of fluids in addition to the drips. Just have to keep reminding everyone to close my curtain so I’m not pissin in front of everyone who walks by lol
Round 2 Complete
Second dose of cyclophosphamide is complete and I’m still feeling great! Spoke to doctors and they are saying that after the initial treatments, and physical therapy gets me back on my feet, I should only have to come in about once a month for additional treatments and follow up. Things are looking very positive for me and I am truly blessed to be at this point right now. I can only hope and pray that the other patients here are able to overcome their battles as well. I know there are far worse situations in some of them and as I am able to in the future, would definitely like to donate to the hospital to support the cause and research.
On that same note I will be making an effort to get out to more of the craft beer events that support cancer charities, and there are a bunch, whether as a guest or volunteer. This is a great way to have fun while supporting amazing charities that I can now relate to. Green Flash Brewing does a big event for breast cancer each year called Treasure Chest, and it was a great time when I went last year. Will be keeping my eyes open for more of these events to help support!
Evening Update 1-28-2014
Since my last update I’ve had a pretty fun relaxing day. A nice visit from Ryan, Zaira, and Alice after lunch, a visitor from the young adult support group later in the afternoon, and had a nice refreshing dinner sitting up on the edge of my bed followed by some extra stretches and leg exercises. Next round of treatment has just begun and still feeling fine. Round 3! Let’s do this!
The Ulman Cancer Fund for young adults sent me a gift bag containing a ton of cool gifts and things, and had a good chat and survey with the nurse that represents the young adults group here. The bag included a fleece throw blanket, a water bottle, back scratcher, playing cards, Sudoku book, lined notebook, pens, sticker, magnet, rubber wristband, ChapStick, tissues, hand sanitizer, iTunes gift card(I’d prefer Google play haha), a voucher for a free T-shirt, a stress ball, and a packet with info and pamphlets. Very cool and unexpected! www.ulmanfund.org for more info. First thing I notice is they are having a craft beer event in DC tomorrow night lol. I might just have to get involved with these guys! 🙂
1-29-2014 Afternoon Update
Just a quick update to let you all know, the 4th dose of cyclophosphamide went through earlier and still no ill effects. 2 more rounds to go before the other drugs. Feeling great and had some more good physical therapy that kicked my ass! Feels good! Walked the hall again with the walking machine and got some cheers haha 🙂 Now sitting in the chair for a bit to cool off and stretch out muscles. Might try to stay here through dinner time for the extra time out of that damn bed. A little more effort when I have to pee sitting here but not too difficult.
Got confirmation from livestrong.org that I was approved for the cryobank discount too! The social worker is impressed with how organized I am with all my paperwork and finances, so I told her I got those skills from my mom.
Still haven’t had a bowel movement since monday night so I may have to tempt fate with the little orange pill later lol 😉
Had a good rest last night but this morning was hectic and exhausting. Constipation does things to you! Luckily the laxatives have gotten me out of that funk again. A couple good bowel movements so far today and my energy level seems to have come back up lol. So much activity this morning between meds and therapy and bed pans and breakfast was pretty late. I was beat for a bit.
The cyclophosphamide treatments are all done. Had a quick dose of vincristine and now getting the doxorubicin which runs over a 24 hour period and looks like cherry kool aid haha! I asked if I could have some sushi brought from a friend, but he said to avoid outside food for the time being while my immunity is down from the drugs. I’m going to little Tokyo when I check out 🙂
Had a nice visit from Cindy, Kacie, and Adrian this afternoon, and Adrian got a cool activity book and crayons from the front desk.
Didn’t get as warm today so I’m feeling pretty comfortable, but still pissin constantly from all the fluids. Appetite still good and they are still feeding me well. Have just a slight bit of fatigue but I can deal with that with rest. Keeping positive and getting through this quite well so far.
That’s all I’ve got for now!
1-31-2014 Quick Update
Initial treatment is complete! Now to regenerate blood and immunities, as well as strength. Fatigue has gotten to me but I’ve been getting plenty of rest. Working on some leg exercises and sitting upright on the side of the bed. Just need time to get back to 100% 🙂
Feeling much better today! Was in a tired funk the past couple days from the treatment and constipation but I have gotten through it and feel my energy levels coming back. Now I can focus on my physical therapy more and not be a zombie to my visitors lol
Mom and dad came down yesterday to visit and bring my mail and extra toiletries. Thank you for the cards and support everyone! And the bills aren’t looking too intimidating at all so far! Have to thank my work for the great insurance plan!
Looking forward to more visits from Mom and Jen and a couple friends later today, and watching the Superbowl!
Had a great day today! Feeling much better and got a bunch of leg exercises in. Sat at the edge of the bed for lunch and did some more leg work there while mom and Jen visited. Then watched the Superbowl and Chris and Ryan came by for that! Had some fun visiting and hanging out 🙂 Was expecting a much closer game, but the Broncos just couldn’t get it together. Seahawks dominated. Not as exciting as if it was closer but still fun to watch.
Another productive day with physical therapy, walked a bit with a walker today, sat up in the chair for a few hours and through lunch, and did some more leg exercises. Rested for a bit after that and then later sat up at the edge of the bed for dinner and did some more leg exercises. I’m gonna sleep good tonight!
I have one small treatment on Thursday, so hoping it doesn’t kick my ass too bad this time! I’ll just sleep it off and take laxatives if it does 🙂
Another good day with physical therapy, and now sitting up at the side of the bed or in the chair for all meals followed by leg exercises. Everyone here is impressed with my progress. Doctors are saying I may be good to go home in as soon as 9 days depending on my ability to get around. Physical therapy can continue at home as well to continue to improve my legs. Not sure about the future treatments yet but they said before that it could be a monthly thing for 9 months.
That’s all for now 🙂
Got my last treatment today, just a 10 ml push of vincristine. Had good physical therapy as well and walked down the hall with the walker. Strength is building up! Getting half of the staples removed in a few hours. Might be a zombie the next day or two, but after that once my blood regens and I can get around, I will be going home. Most likely around next weekend, but we’ll see.
More good walking today with physical therapy and upgraded from the bedpan to the bedside commode. Much more comfortable. Still feeling good and strength is improving. Doctors say my blood cell levels should be back to normal by next week sometime and depending on my ability to get around at that time I can then go home. I would then come in for future treatments or follow ups. Don’t know the actual schedule for that yet but will be over the course of 8 – 9 months based on what they said before. Overall things are great though 🙂
Physical therapy is kickin my butt here at Keck, but I’m making good progress. Blood counts were low so had some platelet and red cell transfusions. Had a crazy rash but it is about healed up now. The days are much busier here with all the therapy sessions and other stuff. Counts are starting to go up today so energy levels are improving. Staying positive and looking forward to going home 🙂
Blood counts are up, strength is getting better and physical therapy is going strong. Had an MRI today to see how my back is doing at this point. Transfer back to Norris on Tuesday for round 3 of treatment. That’s all I’ve got for now 🙂
Looks like my site is working again. Not sure what happened.
Got a nicer room at Norris this time. Bigger and cooler. Halfway thru third treatment and should be going home on monday 🙂
Well I’ve been home for a week now and feeling pretty good. Getting back into the groove of some things while adapting to normal life again. Still have a ways to go but the freedom of being home is nice. Plenty of appointments and treatments over the next 6 months still but shouldn’t be too crazy. Lots of paperwork associated with this but I’ve got it all organized and shouldn’t be an issue. Still need to strengthen up and focus on some balance while walking, but I feel improved even since last week. Using the walker for now but might be able to shift to the cane before long. Thursday is my next appointment, so we’ll find out the next course of action then.
Back at Norris this week for the next treatment. Going good so far and nice seeing the familiar faces of the staff. Should be going home Friday I believe. Just waiting out the week 🙂
Just wanted to post really quick to let you all know I’m doing well. Currently at home, and only have 3 more inpatient treatments to go. Should be done by end of July, then I can focus much more on physical therapy and getting back into a regular routine before returning to work later this year. I am using the cane more now rather than the walker too. Hope to be back to driving again soon as well. That’s all for now!