ianunderhill vs. cancer (RIP Nick)

Home surroundings always better

Ian, great news on the surgery and your recovery progress! One* more vote of good wishes for a continued return to good health!

*two, if you count Dragonfly's at the same time!

So here I am, day two of being back home. I'm taking three different pain meds (a different one every two hours) and they're working wonderfully. By that, I mean both, "I'm not experiencing anything other than minor physical discomfort" and "I don't really feel all that doped up." Though I'm definitely still on the weak side of things, my thoughts are coherent and I have little difficulty articulating them in speech or in writing. This had been one of my bigger fears in the run-up to surgery...being less mobile is bad enough, but being a complete slug for days to weeks on end was less than appealing. I'm still not "there" enough to tear the shrink wrap off my copy of Borderlands 2 and dive in, but I'm hoping that'll change in the next few days.

The main physical hindrance right now is that one of the two spots where they'd stuck drain hoses into my abdomen is still a little leaky. I think it's slowed down in the past 12 hours, but it's still there, and can be messy when sitting or standing. It's just a clear liquid discharge - not pus-like, not smelly, just warm and unpleasant. The doctors say it should stop altogether in the next few days. I'm looking forward to that, as it'll mean going for walks outside instead of around the apartment. Presently, I keep it all in check with a three-layered dressing consisting of a gauze pad, a non-stick pad, and then a pad designed for male incontinence flattened out and taped down to my abdomen. It's a weird setup, but it absorbs the leakage very well and takes a long time to saturate to the point of dripping like a full sponge.

I'm also in the process of getting my approval on some stuff for a benefit concert/party some friends of mine have arranged for me. It's going to be on October 28th (my birthday, incidentally) and at a a local venue here in Chicago. I can't say too much yet, but there are sponsors, there will be beer (some free with your ticket for the first hour), there will be raffle prizes (including at least one bike), and there will be live music. If you're in or near Chicago and would like to come out for the event, keep watching this thread. Things should be finalized in the next week or so. I'd love for anyone who can to turn up, not just for the support, but because it really looks like my friends have gone all-out to ensure a fun evening for all in attendance.

And that's where things stand. It'd be great if I could just recover from the surgery and be done, because things are improving rather quickly. Still, I'm eager to whup the rest of what's in there.

I am really impressed that you are not only keeping such a great attitude but that you are finding a way each day to make progress in other directions as well. Starting to feel pretty lazy myself. Keep taking care.

That's effin awesome, Ian! Hang in there!

Did I mention that you are a badass? You get all the badass points in Borderlands 2.

That's good to hear, Ian. Keep it up, buddy.

Borderlands 2 will you going for a while. You'll be able to level all your characters. Try coop, too.

Wow, Ian, great news. I got sidetracked this week and didn't check in, and now you're home and everything!

I wish I could make it out for the party but I don't think I can. I'll check with the Fermilab team, but I don't think they can give me an excuse to be out there... :-\

I think this is one of my favorite threads on GWJ. Instead of just "I have cancer" or "I have whatever", we really get to see a day by day blog of what is going on. It really is amazing to read about the ups and downs. Definitely liking the ups, especially food and video games.

Thanks everyone. I'm trying not to get too stoked about my body and resolve handling chemo well, in case it doesn't. But I'm super thrilled at how well things are post-surgery. I thought this was going to be way harder than it has been.

Oh, Ian. Your first mistake. Boar's hair? For shame. Get yourself a badger brush.

Finally dared to dive into the thread.
We've had a couple of cases of cancer in the family and I had hesitation.
I'm marveled by Ian's optimism and bravery. My hat's off to you.

I went ahead and donated some money.
As others have said, kick that stupid cancer in the ass!!!

So far, today's my best day yet.

I woke up for the latest round of meds and felt lively enough to shave for the first time in a week. As some of you know, I favor shaving the old-fashioned way, with a EDIT: badger hair brush, Proraso shaving soap, and a Merkur classic DE safety razor. To remove over a week's worth of beard growth takes a good ten minutes this way, but the end result is genuine satisfaction and refreshment. I followed this by taking my time to cook breakfast - just some scrambled eggs and bell pepper in a tortilla with some cheese, ultimately, but between that and the shave, this was the most time I've spent on my feet actively doing anything since my surgery. The only downside was that the dressing on the troublesome drain hole was saturated enough to start leaking onto my abdomen and the floor, but that's still healing. It's a good reminder that I definitely need to take it easy, but I'm thrilled to be getting my strength and appetite back to the degree where I feel motivated to do stuff.

I've also finally taken time to set up the PS3 my parents brought me from their house. Long story short, my dad originally picked one up back at launch with the excuse that it could play BluRay discs in addition to playing games, but it was replaced by a nicer BluRay player a couple years back and has sat unused ever since. I've been wanting to try Demon's Souls and Shadow of the Colossus for a long while, so they were nice enough to let me have their neglected console as well as snag used copies of each of those titles. Hopefully I continue feeling good enough to the point where I can get some non-iPad gaming in today. I still haven't loaded up Borderlands 2 (preordered months ago; likely my last new game for some time, given financial concerns) on the 360, though I did finally remove the shrink wrap yesterday. I almost put the disc in but stopped short, realizing I just didn't feel up to diving in and learning the controls, menus, skill trees, etc.

And that brings me to my current line of thought. It's still strange how I can go from feeling really great at one moment to feeling exhausted and unfocused the next, but I really think I'm starting to turn a corner. I can't wait until I have enough energy and have healed up enough to go back to work. I miss being productive, having focus, solving problems, working with my hands, and talking to my customers. Hopefully gaming can help account for some of that in the interim.

NSMike wrote:

Oh, Ian. Your first mistake. Boar's hair? For shame. Get yourself a badger brush.

My mistake, I do in fact have a badger hair shaving brush. It appears the drugs have addled me slightly more than I realized.

Thanks again to everyone for reading and your various forms of support. I get a lot out of thinking through each day's experiences as I write each post, as well as from your feedback. I'm delighted to hear that there is something useful coming out of this process for those other than myself. I wouldn't feel nearly as comfortable sharing the play-by-play of my story if I didn't have a community that wanted to listen - it makes all this feel less like a grim vanity project and more like a conversation with familiar, empathetic company. That's possibly too formal a dissection of the overall interaction, but rest assured, I wouldn't bother if I didn't feel so welcome or so comfortable.

As always, thank you for being such a wonderfully receptive crowd of kind-hearted do-gooders, whether you like it or not.

Not too formal a dissection at all. If there's one mindset that there's no shortage of here, it's the tendency to over-analyze and dissect social situations.

Today's biggest news would be that there's been no apparent leakage from that pesky abdominal drain hole for at least eighteen hours. I've been taking it very easy so as not to disturb it, but if this keeps up, my post-surgery recovery will have gotten substantially easier. From that point, it should really just be a case of everything else having adequate time to finish healing. Not holding my breath, but definitely giving it time.

ianunderhill wrote:

Today's biggest news would be that there's been no apparent leakage from that pesky abdominal drain hole for at least eighteen hours. I've been taking it very easy so as not to disturb it, but if this keeps up, my post-surgery recovery will have gotten substantially easier. From that point, it should really just be a case of everything else having adequate time to finish healing. Not holding my breath, but definitely giving it time.

Take it easy and, damn, dude, that's awesome.

That's a touch NSFW there. Cool graphic, but probably should be linked.

Linked, but not unappreciated. Honestly, I can't recall the last time I wanted something on a t-shirt so badly.

Modern medicine is just amazing. When I was a kid, we'd be getting ready to toast your memory. Instead, it's "Oh, cool, my shirt's dry today". I mean... That's pretty staggering, no? And happy-making.

Not to mention a hysterical way of putting it, Robear. Very well-played. I'll be mentioning that one to quite a few friends and family members during visits/phone calls/FaceTime chats this week.

Wait, you thought it was royalty-free?

I was going to get a parrot. And a hat.

Nice. Parrots are always classy.

ianunderhill wrote:

I was going to get a parrot. And a hat.

May I suggest these...

For what it's worth, Ian, I was sending positive vibes your way as I was doing some low-grade maintenance on my bike this weekend

Thanks, Jonman. That reminds me that I've actually had several dreams about working on bikes lately. Clearly I'm missing that, although none of my bikes are in need of any work, and my roommate (a SRAM employee) is quite capable of maintaining his own, so I've had absolute jack to do in the bike maintenance realm, despite the fact that we have a room expressly set up as a bike workshop, with a sweet Feedback Sports workstand and everything.

Maybe as my health continues to improve, the Chicago bike contingent of GWJ can deliberately sabotage their steeds and bring them over so I can at least entertain the illusion of being useful?

And we're on day two of no leakage. I carefully changed the gauze and nonstick pads on both drain holes this morning, and they're both dry, with the little plastic strips on top of them staying right where they belong. It'll be a while before they heal completely, as they did have 1/4" surgical tubing going through them deep into my abdominal cavity, but no leaking is at least manageable.

The other thing worth noting is that I have experienced no discernible ascites/fluid-induced abdominal distension since having had my surgery twelve days ago. While my incision and still-healing guts require me to sleep on my back, it's been a genuine thrill not to see my belly grow larger by the day or feel like I'm going to pop. This is also hopefully a good sign as to how much cancer the surgery took out of me. It'll take chemo to get the rest, but if this really is the case, we're off to a great start.

Last note for now: being able to take my time cooking breakfast is fantastic. For over a month, I had to worry about how quickly the stabbing pain of the distension would make it impossible to keep standing, and I worried about how I could force myself to eat when a plain lack of free volume left my appetite diminished. After nearly a week of suddenly finding myself dripping abdominal fluid down my clothes and onto the floor, things are getting back to normal. I know further treatment will alter things here and there, but in the end, the promise of life getting more normal with time and effort is exciting stuff. Here's hoping.

I still haven't cleaned or ridden mine since our Two Brothers ride, so if you're looking for something to do....

JK-- glad you're doing so much better! Let me know when you do want to go for a ride.