May 27 Still still here

We are all still here despite the coronavirus fun. We have been isolated in our house except for periodic trips to the grocery store, my visits to the hospital for immunotherapy and occasional forays out into the rural parts of San Diego County, just to see if they are still there.

I am the most boring of the family members, so I get to go first. I have had a couple immunotherapy forays to the hospital in the second phase of my treatment. Due to the challenges of Covid-19 on local hospital facilities in San Diego. my therapy sessions are now monthly instead of every other week. My latest CT scan, performed in late April, indicated that the miserable cancerous guest on my right kidney is stable and some of the nodules of renal cell carcinoma in my lungs have been reduced or eliminated. Maybe the cancer treatment I have recently endured will keep me alive a bit longer. All I know is I ain’t dead yet.

My beloved, tortured spouse, Peggy, has been engaging in heroic efforts to make my life less miserable. She is an amazing person; when not taking care of my miserable carcass she almost single-handedly emptied out our travel trailer and stowed the stuff here at the house, cleaned up the yard, planted a garden, did the taxes (although we have not seen our refund despite sending in the 1040 in February), acquired and used a lawn mower and additionally did most of the cooking and the laundry. I am amazed that I was clever enough to find such a superb partner, particularly when we selected each other when we were young and stupid.

Dana has been on extended leave from Starbucks in an effort to avoid bring coronavirus home to her immune-challenged dad. It may be that she allows the leave to run out without returning to work and will need to find another job in the bleak environment left over after the pandemic. Fortunately, due to dedicated thrift when we were younger, we have enough money to support the family for the foreseeable future without anybody being obliged to sacrifice their health to survive. Another added recent development for Dana is that the beaches are now reopened so she can bodysurf again. She was beginning to go postal without being able to get in the surf but now she can rip up the waves with reckless abandon.

Sam continues at school but all the college lectures are now remotely offered over the internet so he doesn’t have to drive to the campus for classes. We bought him a new car about 10 minutes before social distancing kicked in but, fortunately, the mileage will remain low for a while. However, on-line classes just are not the same as the real thing so Sam is really knuckling down to keep up with his physics, calculus and linear algebra demands. Fortunately, he is amply supported by his wonderful spouse, Kate, and seems to be doing just fine. Tragically for our waistlines, Kate is an extraordinary cook but we certainly do eat well.

The coronavirus continues to rage outside. The political administration in the US right now is guided by an egomaniac with thin skin who has elected to adhere to wacky conspiracy theories of the right wing instead of logic, contemporary medicine and science. The result has made the USA the world leader in infections and deaths through policies of inaction and tomfoolery. The birdbrain policies have resulted in 1.4 million people having been diagnosed with Covid-19 and deaths are approaching 100,000 since late March. Trump fans have been the first to bolt from reason under gradual reopening and are now out and about, hopefully infecting their similarly thinking compatriots. The dedicated leader and noisy numbskull has embarked on a strange procedure of eating hydroxychloroquine, an effective remedy for the bacterial infection malaria, to combat Covid-19, a virus unaffected by bacteriologic cures. Hopefully, the foolishly self-prescribed drugs will generate organ failure inside his disgusting body and we will be rid of the narcissistic megalomaniac before he kills us all.

April 23 Scary stuff

A month has passed since the last entry and there is little news to report. On the family front, there has been little change. I went over to the hospital a couple times to see my oncologist and start what was referred to as “maintenance” immunotherapy, an apparent second phase. It seems about the same as the first phase except the drugs are only $10K per visit instead of $100K and they can give them quicker because I get fewer doses. Peggy has settled into a role of puttering about outside the house, trimming overgrown plants and picking an abundant variety of weeds and grasses. Sam continues his college pursuits supported by Kate but classes are now delivered via the internet due to the coronavirus pandemic. Our daughter, Dana, has probably had the worst self-isolating effects of any of us because she was amply employed, single, a social butterfly and vehemently opposed to being cooped up with some college students and Social Security recipients. Her efforts to overcome her misery have been stunning.

After my primary phase of immunotherapy, Kaiser was supposed to call me with a time to report and get a CT scan. They definitely dropped the ball so, when I recently chatted with my oncologist, she said for me to call Kaiser and see if I couldn’t shake things loose. I will be going to the hospital tomorrow for a CT scan that will hopefully show remission but I anticipate results somewhat less wonderful. I am glad I have Kaiser Part C Medigap because the stuff they have been doing to me is pricey but my fraction has been very small. I think I’m only in a couple hundred dollars but treatment costs are about a half million.

Our glorious leader, His Malevolence Donald Trump was completely full of shit on every aspect of the coronavirus pandemic when he stated that the U.S. had nothing to worry about, the government was prepared for any eventuality, the virus will go away in the spring and malaria drugs will cure viral infections. The magnitude of His Flatulence’s lies are stunning. A month ago, there were 43,500 cases of Covid-19 and 540 deaths in the U.S. Primarily due to Trump’s bungling and complete disregard of science at the outset, there are now 875,000 cases and nearly 50,000 deaths. His Royal Twit Don has fired all the scientists at the CDC, FEMA and associated entities and replaced them with wankers like Jared Kushner, son-in-law and business failure or chief-of-staff and crybaby, Mark Meadows. There remains no viable coronavirus diagnostic tests, ICUs nationwide are jammed with the dying, and it remains unknown if the asymptomatic can transmit the disease without knowing they are ill. Federal emergency supplies to bolster the hospitals were non-existent and King Trump established embargoes against countries that could help fill the materials gaps. It has been like living in a crazy dream where insane people have the controls of the aircraft and they only stop to pick up more lunatics and bullies. I fear a long decline until the plane dives into the tarmac. I started out the month mostly worried about cancer but a narcissistic megalomaniac has been running the show and the results during the last month have been absolutely dreadful with a quite grim outlook.

March 24 Out of the pan into the fire

Today I finished the first phase of immunotherapy intended to stymie the cancer on my kidney and in my lungs. According to the oncologist, Kaiser will call me and set up another CT scan soon in an attempt to see if the very pricey drugs they have been giving me have had the intended effect. According to the statements furnished by my health plan, it costs some entity more than $100K every time I walk in the door to the hospital. I’m glad I have good insurance.

Our family seems to have flopped out of the pan and directly into the fire this month. My wife and kids have been bending over backwards to make the aging father comfortable after my hospital and immunotherapy fun when the miseries of pandemic swept the globe. After a family meeting filled with hopes but devoid of reliable information, we chose to self-isolate from the rest of the possibly infectious and asymptomatic humans, at least to the greatest extent possible.

Our not popularly elected idiot leader, Donald Trump, says that we have nothing to worry about and the U.S.A. is adequately prepared, properly supplied and has all the personnel capabilities necessary to combat a worldwide pandemic. We will soon see. Hint: Trump has put his slithering daughter and nincompoop son-in-law into pandemic response leadership roles, a truly inauspicious beginning.

25 Feb 20 I ain’t dead yet

The last month and a half we have been hanging around our house in San Diego. I already miss not being on the road. When I left the hospital back in early January, I was extremely weak, maybe from the battle with sepsis and cancer. It is fortunate that I am married to Peggy and she is a good sport because without her help through this misery I think I would have given up. Going to the john had become a miserable odyssey because my intestines were gunnybag. I was having difficulty accepting what appears to be news of a drastically shortened life compared to what I expected. The one good part about these two was that I spent an inordinate amount of time in the john, giving me time to cry and whimper without my family seeing my weakness and emotional loss of control.

The doctors informed me that cutting out my cancer is not an option. Chemotherapy does not work on Renal Cell Carcinoma so that’s out. Radiation won’t work either so we are left with something called immunotherapy which is supposed to fire up my immune system to attack the cancer. I started my visits to the hospital in January to get the unpronounceable and expensive drugs infused into me through an intravenous stream into my arm. It takes about half a day each time I go into the hospital for the therapy but so far there have been no nasty side effects other than feeling exhausted all the time. We’ll see if this magic stuff works in a month or two when they will run me into the CAT scanner again to see if my nasty little friend has remained the same, gotten smaller or disregarded the treatment altogether. I hope it works because I’m running low on options.

2 Jan 20 All the bad news

Today I was checked out of the hospital. Although the care was superb, the prognosis is grim.

The sepsis raged for four days and the hospital staff, trying to fight the nasty infections from my dysfunctional intestine, fed me massive amounts of antibiotics which sent my heart into atrial fibrillation and wild pulse swings from about 68 to 135. Staff fought around the clock trying to keep the fibrillation from giving me a stroke and to keep the infection in line and they eventually won the day. I gave up blood samples seemingly every couple hours. Kaiser should have enough of my blood to paint an Amish barn. It was miserable.

The really nasty part was getting the other info the staff had gleaned from the CAT scans I had on December 28 and 29. There is a solid mass on my right kidney that is actually bigger than the kidney. It has metastasized into my lungs. A biopsy confirmed the diagnosis. Their name for it is Renal Cell Carcinoma. My name for it is frightening sumbitch. It cannot be excised by surgery.

I am glad to be out of the hospital but I feel like I have been beat up by thugs. Thank God for Kaiser’s Part C Medigap coverage and my family who stayed with me all the way through my time in Wing 4 South.

December 28 Nasty News

We have been lounging in the San Diego area for a couple months and, as it turns out, that was fortunate. This evening I checked into the local, newly-built Kaiser hospital because I thought I had appendicitis. If we had been anywhere other than our hometown, my appendicitis could have been more difficult to manage.

Once through the emergency room, the staff sent me off to a CAT scanner where they were able to ascertain that I did indeed have appendicitis that was also blocking my intestine. That had cut way down on my toilet paper costs for the last few days.

Unfortunately, the appendix had burst or the blockage has become unblocked which gave me sepsis, a nasty customer. I don’t think the next few days are going to be fun.

November 15 I are a crapenter

Today’s tasks were to drive across town to Homeowner Hell, buy a security door and replacement hardware and to haul it to our kids’ house. After that, we were to demolish the old, funky door and its faulty hardware before replacing it with the new stuff. It seemed pretty straightforward and simple. It seemed.

Reality quickly set in with and extended foray through the Balboa Avenue Home Depot aisles of things we didn’t need before finding Aisle 33, Bay 3, where the security doors were found. After not much confusion, we pulled out the door we wanted and loaded it onto a six-wheel cart with only two of the wheels having flat rolling surfaces. It made an irritating clunking noise as we wandered through the shopping maze. Our next stop was at Aisle 7 where we eventually found the door hardware we needed, despite there being no service personnel to assist us. Then we were off to checkout and soon back out into the daylight. One-quarter of our workday was gone by the time we jumped into the truck for the ride to the house.

It is quite evident why security screen doors got their name because getting the old door off the face of the house required considerable grinding, some dedicated elbow grease and we only started two fires with hot metal sparks. We then Vise-Gripped the long screws that held the old door out of the framing. Some previous house paint colors could be seen under the old frame, a testament to the length of time the old door has been bolted to the front of the house.

Then there was a concentrated effort by Peggy, Sam and his spouse, Kate, and me to install the new security screen door before I remembered that the front door opening of our house is not square so a bit of cosmetic frame work might be necessary. We installed all the jambs plumb and the header level but that means nothing with our front door. Our boy, Sam, came home from college towards the end of the fun and was gracious enough to offer me a nice shot of Jack Daniel’s Honey. Not long thereafter, Peggy and Kate shot over to Ranch 99 Market, an oriental grocery near the house. Disappointingly for American restaurants, Ranch 99 makes the best fried chicken in the neighborhood. KFC should take note that ferners produce better fried chicken than the Colonel and his substandard wage minions.

November 14 No rest for the old

I have been lazy about getting to this blog/diary/mostly contemporaneous record keeping for the last ten days. However, we did get some terrible, time-consuming chores done.

The task that required the most repetitive shopping nightmares was fixing our recently broken black tank washer in our trailer. I think the tank washer broke and started inundating our water heater and furnace back in early October and we have been obliged to resort to hoses and nozzles crammed down the terlet to ascertain the vile stuff in the tank has been delivered to the parks’ sewer system. Our odyssey began with a trip to the kids’ house followed by some time on the internet to find that replacement parts that look like the defective parts on the trailer do not exist. Many other options were found but all required some adaptive plumbing, a trade at which I am talent-free. I ordered parts that looked like we would have to drill the least amount of new holes and requiring the fewest re-plumbing adventures. When the parts arrived, it was plain there would be more headaches than planned so two days of driving to the hardware store in nearby Jamul and to an RV supplies store further away in El Cajon began. Much later, all the parts were assembled so Peggy and I began the job of removing a plywood bulkhead in our trailer’s pass-through storage bay. We found all the carpet-covered screws and got them to back out of the fuzzy plywood without breaking off but found the bulkhead, which was installed apparently using a hydraulic press, was reluctant to budge. After considerable grunting and profanity, coupled with some sturdy pry-bar manipulation, we managed to force the bulkhead open such that we had some access to the tank washer plumbing. Unfortunately, because the plumbing is behind a bulkhead squashed into a storage locker, it took a certain amount of contortionism to affect repairs. It was nearly dark by the time we got all the new stuff to work without catastrophic leaks.

The other major chore we have been pursuing is removal of the faded, potato chip appearing decals on our fifth wheel. In the factory, a decal adhesive is applied that must be made of constituents that are illegal in most progressive states. Parts might fall off trailers but to prevent re-occurrence, this adhesive should be used because it absolutely, positively will not come off. We have used heat guns, acetone, Goo Gone, a couple of rubber decal-stripping wheels spun by a drill, Scotch-Brites and considerable elbow grease to get the intransigent and tenacious decal adhesive off the trailer. It was uglier but we now have one side, the back and the front of the trailer free of the horrible but durable scum. There is little work on the remaining side. We will probably win the battle right before we sell the trailer.

Today we went to Harbor Freight to get some cheap consumable grinding wheels and tools to use at our real residence in San Diego to remove and replace our front door security screen. Much grinding to remove the old door is anticipated, along with cursing and skinned knuckles. A steel security door sounds like a good idea until you need to replace it. By nature, they resist destruction. We will start the fun tomorrow.

It seems my labor estimates are wildly inaccurate. I figured the decals would come off much easier – five hours instead of five years. I figured the tank washer repair should be done by a competent individual in two hours but two days when performed by me. The security screen remove and replace should not take more than a couple hours, if somebody else does it.

November 4 Loafing, Inc

The new WiFi provider at the park is making rapid progress with the new system and our access to the ‘net gets better every day. The current bonus is that until they get the system up to 100%, access is free. We enjoyed this wonderful condition and hung around the trailer all day, checking out our now-accessible e-mail, blogs, reports and absolute hooey. We also spent quite some time watching the birds and portly squirrels raid our bird feeders and chum piles. Considering fuel costs in CA, it is nice not to drive anywhere once in a while.

November 3 Kiddos

Our son doesn’t have formal school on Sundays so we dropped in at our real house, where our kids live. Unfortunately, Sam has enrolled in courses that are quite challenging and he was still obliged to study for part of the time we were there. That was a perfectly acceptable condition because Kate, our favorite daughter-in-law, and Dana, our daughter and, of course, Lily the dog, were there and lively hobnobbing, ball fetching, clandestine dog treating and chit-chat ensued. Dana surfing crony, Neil, showed up for a bit and got in on the blathering before both of them went out to be disappointed by the flat surf.

We came back in the dark, partly on account of the recent geezer-confusing daylight time shift and poor scheduling. We try to avoid night driving when we can. Just a couple nights ago, an insane lunatic passed us on a short, narrow two-lane curved bridge while another car was about 30 feet away in the oncoming lame. Panic stops by both the normal drivers saved the idiot’s life although I’ll bet some poo came out.