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Tweeting the Surgery - The Effects of #Vicodin II

I had planned on Tweeting my surgery yesterday, but Nurse Ratched took away my smart phone. Here is what I would have said in 140 characters or less.

6:15 am dsjohndrow: Up, no coffee, no breakfast, blood pressure 160/102. Time for a shower and the battery acid shower scrub. No coffee! #RatherBeInBed

6:16 am dsjohndrow: No coffee, no damn coffee! #NeedCoffee

6:16 am dsjohndrow: No coffee, just no damn coffee! #INeedTheDamnCoffee
6:44 am dsjohndrow: Hospital just called to say they could take me early. #RockNRollTime

6:45 am dsjohndrow: Mike won't have to take me to the hospital.

6:46 am dsjohndrow: That coffee smells good, Ruth. #INeedTheEffingCoffee

7:10 am dsjohndrow: Ruth drops me at the front door. I mouth "I love you." and blow her a kiss.

7:14 am dsjohndrow: What's you date of birth? #HereWeGo

7:15 am dsjohndrow: What's you date of birth? Did the other lady forget to put in there? #HereWeGo

7:15 am dsjohndrow: Finally I am registered and making my way to Surgical Day Care. A little anxious. Thinking "doggie day care" for some reason.

7:45 am dsjohndrow: Thinking about how much pain I am in with the kidney stone and a crushing headache. #NeedPainMedsNow

7:50 am dsjohndrow: Answering identity questions for the admitting nurse. Thinking about COFFEE! What is this the TSA? #Interrogations

7:51 am dsjohndrow: What's your date of birth? Can I call my mother? #HereWeGo

8:05 am dsjohndrow: Shown to my cube - almost like work except a bed instead of a desk. Hmm... new office arrangement? #EasyJob

8:06 am dsjohndrow: WTF! Take off everything? How about I keep my underwear? #DignityGone

8:10 am dsjohndrow: Right, just a little pinch. How come there is blood squirting everywhere? That's good stuff, don't waste any! #NothingButTheBlood

8:11 am dsjohndrow: We are going to try another spot? #Yikes

8:11 am dsjohndrow: Are you just practicing? #Ouch2

8:11 am dsjohndrow: How long have you been working here? 20 years!? #YouCanDoBetter
8:12 am dsjohndrow: What's my pain level? 7 And yes, morphine is fine. #WhyWaitToStartTheParty 

8:15 am dsjohndrow: I'm going to have to log the IV, how many calories are in the stuff? #MyFitnessPalGuilt

8:16 am dsjohndrow: Can you put coffee in that? #INeedTheEffingCoffee

8:25 am dsjohndrow: Talked to the anesthesiologist. I take the Blue Plate Special! #LoveTheDrugs

8:30 am dsjohndrow: Talked to the OR nurse and chose my music. #MusicRocks

8:40 am dsjohndrow: Was relieved the nurse decided to shave me with a clipper. When I saw that roll of tape it made my navel pucker. #HolyCrap

8:50 am dsjohndrow: Doc in. Initialed my left arm. Borrowed his Sharpee, and wrote "NOT THIS ONE!" on my right. Doc not impressed. #DumbMove

8:00 am dsjohndrow: In the OR now, praying #PrayerIsGood, oxygen and Lidocane. Smells fun.... #OutLikeALight

8:05 am dsjohndrow: Why are you painting my crotch red? Purple is my favorite color. #HallucinationsAreInteresting

8:15 am dsjohndrow: What are you doing with the thing? I wish I had my underwear! #FearOfAwesomeMedicalDevices

8:20 am dsjohndrow: I hate The View, can you change it to the NHL Channel? #NHL
8:22 am dsjohndrow: Is that Barbara Walters on skates?  #HallucinationsAreInteresting

8:25 am dsjohndrow: Are you Santa Clause? I have been very good this year. #BeenGoodAllYear #HallucinationsAreInteresting

8:45 am dsjohndrow: Ahhhh! It is Santa Clause, my parents lied! #Fear #SantasNotReal

8:15 am dsjohndrow: Did fine, in recovery. They have Fentanyl. I like that better than coffee. #LoveTheDrugs #CoffeeIsOverated

1:00 pm dsjohndrow: Mike is here, everything is OK. #BestNeightborEver Coffee on the way home, the nurse has Vicodin, this is a good day. I feel like dancing! #BestDayEver

Later I found out the Santa Clause had inserted a laser beam - the guaranteed to blow your mind kind -, camera, basket with claw, and an x-ray machine through my penis. I am glad he forgot the backhoe.
Thanks for the votes and comments! Friend me at your own risk, I still have Vicodin! #WiseAss

Reality and Fantasy

It has been another whirlwind week of crazy medical stuff. If you were around last week, you know about ER visits 1 and 2. This week I am going to tell you about 3 and 4. Because I need to have a "come to Jesus" talk with myself.

I am currently living in a fantasy world where I am fit and healthy. 

This morning when I looked at the pile of medication I am taking (pile is no exaggeration, though you know I use them frequently), I was a little sad. In 2011, when I got out of ICU for congestive heart failure, I was on 6 medications.

I distinctly remember the day I held that little pile of orange pill bottles in my hand.

David had a talk with himself. David vowed to get off all of them. That day David decided that he would get serious about being healthy and fit, not just skinny and good looking. That day he pulled on some clothes (probably backwards) and went out for a mile walk. He came home exhausted and went to bed for three hours. As you know, he kept at it and 1 mile became 2, and then 3. He began to walk faster (using a heart rate monitor) and pushed 130 beats per minute for long as possible.

He was getting fit and losing weight.

The MRI of my head showed there was nothing in there. The neurologist fired me. She said there was nothing she could do to help me. The allergic reaction to my blood pressure medication was solved by switching to a new one.

As always, there is more to the story.

I was back in the ER on last Thursday. My blood pressure went up to 201/122. My temples were tingling. They kept me for a while before they could get it settled down. Then there was the 11mm kidney stone which, probably should have been classified as an asteroid! The stent made everything comfortable. I was cleared to run if I felt OK.

I had my heart set on doing the Shamrock Dolphin Challenge with my wife and some good friends.

It was going to be my last real run before my March 22 (now the 29th) shoulder surgery. Friday evening, we went to the expo and then out to dinner with friends. I wasn't feeling that well, but I decided to go to sleep and see how I felt Saturday morning at 5:30. I woke up, had a little food, took my medication, and decided against runniing - even walking the 8K.

Beside myself with disappointment, I drove my wife to the starting line, parking the car nearby.

We found our friends and I cheered them on. I blew a kiss to my wife as she headed for the starting line. Then I searched for a bathroom. Things were going downhill. There was lots of bleeding. My mouth was dry and my lips stuck to my teeth. I went and sat in the sun on park bench. I checked my phone to see where Ruth was. I could see her blue dot moving down the street closer and closer to where I was on the sidewalk. Since we met, Ruth has made it a custom to give me a quick kiss and a hug when I am on the way by.

Now it was my turn.

From the mile 4 mark, I cut across to the finish line. I found a high voltage utility box which made a good seat. It was even a little warm in the 45-degree air. I watched her on the map. I got up and cheered her across the finish line.

I was so excited for her as they called her name on the PA.

We caught up at the end of the chute and walked back to the car. The pain was increasing, and I asked her to drive to IHOP. We arrived as the hosts of the Pathetic Runners club meet up. We chatted with old and new members. Not feeling that well, I ordered a small breakfast. Things just got worse, and I asked Ruth to take me to the ER. We didn't even eat. Trip number four. By the time I got there, the abdominal pain was so bad I was throwing up.

They gave me one of those things the looks like a horse condom.

I just sat moaning and groaning, waiting to go in to triage. Finally, a volunteer took me to a room. They plugged in an IV and filled it full of liquids, Zofran, and fentanyl. Things simmered down, and Ruth went home to meet our friends who were arriving for the weekend.

They x-rayed the stent and did some blood work. 

It turns out that I had an infection. They added antibiotics to my IV and more fentanyl. My wife and friends came back to see how things were. With the pain medication I felt pretty good; however, it seemed like they wanted to keep my overnight again. I begged them to let me go home.

The doctor finally agreed. He wrote a script for morphine and antibiotics.

I went home. The medication made me comfortable and I was able to help my wife prepare dinner. It was a nice evening, and Sunday turned out to be a great St. Patrick’s Day - complete with corned beef and cabbage.

Food makes everything better.

Monday, I went to see a counselor. She asked how I was. "You aren't going to believe this." I started. I just needed to vent without overwhelming my friends and family. I discussed my medical issues. Most of which do not impede my life in any way. The hypertension is completely under control. The IBS is a bit tricky, but for the most part, I know how to handle it. Despite all the trouble this damn kidney stone has given me, that should be over soon.

My shoulder is another story, but I believe surgery next week can cure it. 

Tomorrow I will have my first round of Botox injections for the headaches. (They were not approved when I went last week.) I am not looking forward to 32 injections, but if this headache goes away for a few weeks - the one I have 24/7, I shall be more than grateful.

My fantasy of being fit and healthy is just that. A fantasy.

For the moment, I am taking 8 different medications. That is my reality. It is emotionally painful because I work hard at exercise and diet. I am dedicated. Then there is the cancer. It has taught me to live life now, not waiting for someday.

Someday might never come.

I confess, this week it all got to me. I went for skin cancer treatments yesterday morning. The nurse practitioner was very kind. However, as she started telling me about how it feels like bee stings or a bad sunburn, I just couldn't go through with. I have had enough pain for one week.

I went outside and just sat in my car. Numb.

Like I always do, I pulled it together and went to the hospital for pre-op testing. X-rays, more blood samples, more tests... I came home and took some morphine.

I am looking forward to the end of all this. I am hoping to be healthy and fit again.

I Am the Healthiest Sick Man

As the tempest rages against me, I am still 100% successful at not dying. I have mustered a little faith, a little perseverance, and lot of support.

Today was going to be a recap of Tokyo.

However, I didn't even unpack my suitcase and things went sideways. First a little about Tokyo. Ruth and I boarded our connecting flight on Monday the 25th. We had about an hour to make our flight to Japan which was leaving from Washington DC. Just as we were about to board (all ready to scramble between terminals at Dulles International), our connection was delayed due to high winds.

Needless to say, we ended up spending the night in DC on United's dime.

Sure, it was nice room, but we already had one in the Shinjuku District of Tokyo. The next morning, we caught the shuttle to the airport. We had a little trouble with one of the passports. Usually it is me. I have dual citizenship because my parents liked to sleep around.

This time it was Ruth.

Off we went west to the Far East before noon, flying over the Great Lakes, Alaska, Russia, and eventually Japan. We landed at Narita at noon the next day, Wednesday. We tried to book a limo van that was direct to the hotel, but they were full. Then we tried to book a limo bus to the Shinjuku West station, but that was full.

I was on edge, and the difference in air pressure kicked my headache in to high gear.

We quickly passed through immigration, giving up our fingerprints in the name of security. Then the dog sniffed out suitcases in customs. We passed the sniff test and headed to the lobby. We were able to get the last two bus seats leaving in 5 minutes, so we rushed to the limo bus stop.

We headed into the city, first farmland, then suburbs, and then the skyline.

We flipped on the GPS and headed for the hotel. It took a bit to orient (pun intended) ourselves. We checked in. The Japanese are very polite and formal. We agreed to pay for the night we had missed.

It was cold and rainy, grabbing our umbrellas we found a little curry joint down the block. We came back the room and managed to put our suitcase on the little couch. There was a 12" wide path around the bed, so we traded turns using the floor.

Then there was the bathroom.

A heated toilet seat! Score!! And the flush button was the bidet sprayer - so unscore! Finally, we got in bed and switched off the lights. We closed our eyes and left the TV on the Japanese version Cops where they take criminals into custody without guns or handcuffs.

Day two.

It was still raining as we went to breakfast to plan out our day’s activity. They had fish and rice as well as cold eggs. The coffee was not refillable (free in the lobby, but not at the table?)

Tomorrow we are going out. Fish and rice is NOT breakfast.

We spent Thursday visiting the art museums. It took 40 minutes to find someone who could tell us what train to take. My English is very good, my Portuguese is pretty good, and my French and Spanish are passable. My Japanese, not so much. Friday, we went to the Expo to pick up my number. It was at a giant mall and all the vendor tents were outside in the rain. We skipped them.

I procured my cheap @$$ Finisher Jacket for 100,000 Yen!! ($100US) and went for sushi!

Saturday the sun came out to taunt us. We took a bus tour of the city and shrines. We went to the Tokyo Sky Tree and looked out over the city. Relaxed a Sumo Noodle restaurant and we ended with a Tokyo Bay sunset cruise.

Sunday morning it was race day. 40 degrees Fahrenheit and just south of 5C.

I wrote on Facebook: It’s 4:57 am here in Tokyo. I’m in awe of all the support I have received on Facebook and MyFitnessPal. 198 notifications when I logged in. I really don’t have words to express my gratitude. I’m trying to focus on the task, sticking to my marathon plan. My mind is swirling with disjointed thoughts - the ones that make their way through the chronic headache I’ve experienced since August. I hope I haven’t forgotten anything. I wonder how much rain we’ll get. I’m praying I don’t get any cramps. I keep trying to picture myself at the finish line. It’s crazy, but I am here. I confess, I’d like it to be over. But apparently it is the job I was made to do. A dream I had one day while I was angry at cancer. Angry that it might steal my joy and at times, my life.

At first it seemed doable. Today it seems daunting.

On the other side of the world, my friend Katie lies in bed, sharing her last days with family and friends in a NC hospice. All I can think of to say is “hang in there kid, you’re almost finished.”

Today I have hope because of your faith, prayers, and encouragement. Sickness won’t win today. I’m almost finished.

It was lightly raining. I bought a breakfast and shared it with my wife. I ate a little fish and the toast. I left the rest for her. I kissed her goodbye and headed for the starting line. It has been hell getting here I thought, but I am as ready as I can be. In 2013 I had my first of 5 cancer diagnoses. This was my 10th full marathon and 6th world major.

It is likely my last marathon. It’s my own personal super bowl.

If I finished the course without getting swept by the balloon girls clearing the course of slow runners and road kill, I would earn myself the coveted Abbott Word Majors 6-Star Medal. It's an honor among about 4000 runners worldwide.

I wanted to be one.

As I walked to the starting line, I followed the signs for Gate 3 and Corral K. Tokyo is a very quiet city, but today you could hear the rain falling on thousands of plastic ponchos. People were speaking in just about every language known to man.

And speaking one only known to God.

I walked up the stairs to my corral and we stood packed in like sardines for an hour in the rain. Finally, the confetti cannon went off and the throng of runners began to move. I saw Ruth about mile 1. I love her smile! We tried to connect at the 10K but the subway system was a little confusing. It was disappointing.

I looked for a porta-potty, but they were all very far off the course and the queues were long.

I couldn't take the chance of being swept. Not today.

I carried on keeping my rhythm of run for 3 minutes and walk for 1. My heart rate monitor, which I rely on to tell me where I am, quit working. I was so mad I wanted to throw my Garmin in Tokyo Bay - wherever the hell that was.

I pressed on and saw Ruth again about 28 kilometers - around 17 miles.

I passed the 18-mile mark, which was the longest training run I had done since London last year. The rest was an unknown. The halfway point in a marathon is really 20 miles. You never know what those last 6.2 miles will bring you. Leg cramps, a torn muscle or ligament, even a stress fracture. It is all there waitting to come between you and the finish line.

I finally found a porta-potty at the 30K marker.

It was in a small parking area just off the course. I jumped the curb and got in the queue of 4. I had found another one earlier on, however the queue was 10 or more deep. I jumped back on the course. The Grim Reaper was sweeping slow runners, and I was not going to be one today!

There was bad news at the porta-potty. A blood stream poured out.

I had a little talk with myself. "David, you can go and get medical attention. Or you can run 10 more freaking kilometers and be a 6-Star Finisher." I stopped thinking about all that could go wrong and focused on the finish line. On the out-and-back I could see miles 23 through 25 on the other side of the road.

I saw the Abbott cheering team and tent at mile 25.

I began to cry out loud. This is what I came for. I kept running, not paying attention the run/walk prompts. I keep pushing. I pulled over for a sip of water and ran some more.

Finally, under the cloud shrouded Tokyo Tower, I ran in front of the Abbott cheering team. They rang cowbells and screamed "Go 6-Star!" "Run David!" It was the first time I was excited about the race. The rest had just been sheer willpower. But this was different.

I could feel the prayers of friends and family.

I heard to voices saying, "I'll see you at the finish line." Mile 25 clicked off. 1.2 miles left, and it all turned to slow motion. The rain, the pain, the excitement, the fear of not finishing.

It was a weird sort of tunnel vision.

I made the right-hand turn towards the finish line. It was raining hard as road narrowed. The yellow cobblestones were glistening with tiny streams running through the mortar cracks. I pressed on and heard my wife call my name from the sidewalk!

"You did it, babe – you’re getting your 6-Star."

We had a very quick hug and kiss. I heard her say "I love you!" as headed down for the final 300 meters. It seemed to take forever.

There it was before me, the finish line. I poured it on.

I did a fist pump (because I can't use my left shoulder.) I shouted F%^& YES as I stepped on the timeing mats! I never looked at my finish time. I still haven't. I don't care. What I care about is that I finished. I found the Abbott tent on the way out of the chute. I got a space blanket, water, food, and just stood in the tent with the volunteers sobbing as they hung the medal around my neck.

It was the hardest thing I have ever done.

I flew home the day after. The sound of wet plastic ponchos haunts me.

A quick health update. Thursday of last week I had an MRI for the headaches. As noted in a previous blog, the contrast and I are NOT friends. The next morning, Friday, I was in the ER with a very swollen lip. It was some sort of allergic reaction and they put me on all sorts of steroids and Benadryl.

Saturday evening, I had so much abdominal pain, I was throwing up. I had an 11mm kidney stone and the surgeon inserted an emergency stent. I am waiting to have the stone and the stent removed as soon as they can. That needs to fit into my medical schedule including Botox injections tomorrow for the headaches, skin cancer treatments on the 18th, and my shoulder repair the 29th.

Of course, you can pray for me.

And here is blog about my run.
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