Dealing with cancer in a bad economy.

Sounds like an odd title, but without a doubt, plenty of folks have the same problems that I face. A diagnosis of cancer, dwindling benefits, and fear.

I thought I'd diary today on what I'm thinking, feeling, and going through today, maybe a follow-up tonight. Who knows? I'm in a state of not knowing, and I want to know!

Last week, when I was told, I wasn't as shocked as I feared. However, I did notice that I stopped hearing what the doctor was saying, except for the "you're too fat" part. So I have made an appointment with my family doc to find out some things, that appointment's Wednesday.

So what else is going on? Positive actions and fear.

Fear of the severity. I haven't had my biopsies or body scans yet, because my doctor's out of the country on a medical mission trip. That's the urologist, I should say. I don't know who my oncologist is supposed to be yet. And because of some extraneous circumstances, I have to drive two hours each way for an appointment. But I'll have the biopsies Aug 2.

Fear of costs. How much explanation does this one need? not much. People all over are financially insecure with or without cancer.

Fear of losing unemployment when not able to work. That's my only source of income... so without it, how do I pay COBRA? Child Support? Purchase the adult diapers I'll need at least for some time after my surgery?

These are the big fears right now, believe it or not. I don't worry about whether I'll ever get an erection again following surgery, or whether I'll wear diapers the rest of my life. I simply worry about how ling that life will be, and hope for the best.

But positive steps and positive encouragements keep coming my way. My personal trainer and gym know the need for weight loss, cardio, and strong abdominal muscles, and they push me. Not just because it's their job, but because they see my obsessive-like determination.

I've also noticed that I no longer worry about telling anyone-- a complete stranger, old friends, you all. I haven't posted it to facebook, because I don't want a bunch of pity posts. I have a disease, and I'm approaching it the best way I can.

Sleep-- I didn't sleep more than 2-3 hours the first few nights, but Saturday and Sunday nights, I was in bed by 8:30, genuinely tired. I slept 14 hours sat-sun, and 12 sun-mon. I don't think it's depression, I think I was, quite simply, worn out. I'm sure sleep will return as a problem, but I don't think it will be tonight.

Diet... The most confusing issue. It took six days for me to read the papers given by the doctor. Among them was a simple diet used by cardiologists for patients who need to lose huge amounts of weight in a few weeks. The diet purports to allow the user to lose 40 pounds in a month. So I'll be starting that. It's not the healthiest diet in the world, but it's better than no surgery to remove the cancer.

Family: Two members of the immediate family went into 'blame the victim' mode-- "you drink too much, and that's why!"  Well, heck, maybe that contributed, but let's not close the barn door after the horses are gone, okay?

My South American family are lighting candles, and praying. My ex told me not to worry about child support payments until I'm able to pay again, and she said she's sending my son up for Christmas. When I told her I couldn't afford to pay for the tickets, she said "Don't worry about it. He needs to spend time with his father."

Friends: aside from y'all, only a few know. Not a secret from the others, I consider the vast majority of my life now an open book. But all of them have mentioned how calm I act. Well, what can I do about it? Jesus isn't gonna miracle away my prostate gland.

Exercise: Better than almost any therapy I can think of, except spending time here on TL arguing with folks. First, endorphines, second, I'm working on re-becoming a "lean, mean, fighting machine." I have regretted how out of shape I've become, but part of that was underactive thyroid, and for six months, exercise has been on my "gonna get to" list. Now it's priority 1a. Priority 1? my son.

Things I have learned... doctors' offices don't readily communicate with each other. I'm calling one, and they have not sent the information to each other. I consider this one point important enough to place here, because there are many more lessons, but this may be the most important to date. Stay on your doctors to communicate with each other. I'm lucky to have a family doctor who actually listens, and actually explains. Of course, getting through to him if it's not an appointment seems impossible. But he did have his office call me at night on a Friday night to tell me about the possibility of cancer and to begin trying to set up a referral.

Mentally I'm not sure where I am. Probably still a little bit of shock, but even more determination to get into Ranger shape within the two months I have before surgery. If I drop 80 pounds, I won't be unhappy. I don't need to drop 80, but I remember how I could run or ride a bicycle or carry a 90 lb pack all day, sleep a few hours, and then do it again. Did it hurt? yep.

But no pain, no gain. I am blessed that my heart, cholesterol, triglycerides, etc. don't create an issue.

So-- comments? I'll be around to answer for a while. As I said, my life, at least this part, is an open book.

I'll be asking the medical professionals about disability and other things, since doubtless they have to deal with it. IF they don't know, other folks...

Now to get ready for an hour of cardio tonight.  

< Please Allow Me To Introduce Myself, | Mama Told Me Not to Come: A Day in the Corridors of Medical Bureaucracy >
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    "Blame game." Counselor I've (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by oculus on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 02:59:34 PM EST
    relied on says, "she is not your friend."  At the rate I'm going, I won't have any.  At any rate, why spend time now with non-supportive relatives.  Unless it is your generous mom, of course!

    Medical records:  my provider group has already gone to computerized records.  Love it, as each office has all the records, including lab results.  Group also has a system whereby I may e-mail doctor and get a reply w/i a couple days.  

    You:  very organized.  Keep up the good work.  

    Thanks, Oculus. (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by jeffinalabama on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 03:06:14 PM EST
    It's a challenge, and one of those relatives WAS my generous mom, but she's also said she won't be mentioning it again. She's worried, and she shows her worry by fussing...

    I trust my doctors, but they aren't infallible. And I need to find out more info on medicaid now, so look for a diary on Alabama's medicaid soon.


    This has to be very difficult for your mother. (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by oculus on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 03:08:03 PM EST
    How not to hover, yet be supportive, when adult off spring is both unemployed and facing a medical crisis and, I assume, is right there in her home.  

    You've been on my mind all weekend. (5.00 / 3) (#4)
    by vml68 on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 03:09:24 PM EST
    I was wondering if you will have anybody to help you after your surgery. Since you are caring for your mom and son now, do you have any friends or family that can step in while you are recuperating?
    Your ex sounds like a good woman.

    I hope you don't find this offensive, but maybe consider setting up a Paypal account. It will give those of us who can another avenue to help you besides offering moral support.

    Yes, Jeff's former spouse is looking (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by oculus on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 03:11:14 PM EST
    good in this situation.  Brava.  

    I must admit to (none / 0) (#6)
    by jeffinalabama on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 03:20:50 PM EST
    regretting some of the feelings I had toward her in the past. Also some of the actions and words toward the end of the marriage.

    RE: paypal... I'll have to think about it, let me find out my welfare options first. I prefer to give to charity, or earn something, rather than accept... This is something I must work on.

    I suffer from the sin of Pride.

    It probably comes from Mom's side more than Dad's, because of the horrific conditions the Great Depression put them through... probably a diary in that all by itself. So many topics, and I can only post two diaries a day! Of course, that means I have to WRITE two daily...


    Most hospital have social workers (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by MO Blue on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 05:03:05 PM EST
    who have all the resources you might need at their fingertips. Have one of your doctors give you a referral to one at the hospital where you will get your operation. Their list of resources contain financial aid and various support groups that can help you through this.

    You have contributed to society in many ways from your time in the military. your time in teaching the younger generation and through paying taxes. Now is the time for society to give back to you. Think of it as a society bank where you have made deposits in the past and will now take a few withdrawals. Then when you are through with all of this and back on your feet again you can once again make more deposits. Maybe even in the form of a few dollars to the organizations that gave you assistance so they can help others. Or maybe, it will be through offering emotional support to others who come after you.

    Glad that you are pursuing becoming a "lean, mean, fighting machine." Can't think of much of anything that helps relieve stress more.

    Warm hugs and warm thought going your way.  


    One of my very many "attributes"..... (none / 0) (#9)
    by vml68 on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 03:40:44 PM EST
    I suffer from the sin of Pride

    so I can't knock you for that. Having said that, friends helping friends is not charity.
    Are you doing the 3 day Cardiac Diet?

    I wanted to post on your first diary but got stung on my right forearm by a wasp on friday and had a bad allergic reaction. My whole arm right down to the fingertips is still 4 times it's normal size, makes it difficult to type.


    That's the one. (none / 0) (#10)
    by jeffinalabama on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 03:47:29 PM EST
    Oh, it started raining, so fishing is delayed.

    that's when you catch all the fish! (none / 0) (#12)
    by CST on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 04:22:03 PM EST
    You may need to carry an epi pen... (none / 0) (#11)
    by jeffinalabama on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 03:48:00 PM EST
    that's one serious reaction.

    Met with my doc, she told me most wasp (none / 0) (#20)
    by vml68 on Wed Jul 27, 2011 at 11:56:37 AM EST
    stings tend to get pretty ugly, so no worries. I also have to avoid getting stung again for atleast a couple of months or I risk having a worse reaction. My arm is almost normal again except for the intense itching!

    I was concerned because I have never been stung before and neither has anyone I know, so I was not sure what was a normal reaction. After dealing with it over the weekend, I decided I did not want to rely on Dr Google's expertise exclusively.


    please, please (none / 0) (#17)
    by The Addams Family on Tue Jul 26, 2011 at 04:13:18 PM EST
    do set up the PayPal account, jeff

    save some of us the trouble of just sending $ right to your email address ;)

    seriously though, many hands, etc.


    I'm working on some (none / 0) (#18)
    by jeffinalabama on Wed Jul 27, 2011 at 11:27:37 AM EST
    fiction right now I'm going to try and sell, even though the market for fiction has almost disappeared, especially short stories.

    I think if I could find it in me to write a period romance novel, or somehow a formula for romances, I could do something there... but that's probably just as pie in the sky as expecting to live off of freelance fiction, freelance journalism, or actually getting the entire long-work creative process down. Research? not a problem, but I don't want to write for Regenery. Does the left have an equivalent?

    I will exhaust my options first, but before I change from hidden homeless to homeless, I will set up a paypal account.

    Proceeds to go to my son, beyond basic needs-- food, shelter, Depends... I think I can handle the clothes, since adult diapers increase waist size.

    As I saw in another thread. I can always move to Florida since it's close. Hungry, yes, but freezing, only on occasion.


    I don't think you need to worry about (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by vml68 on Wed Jul 27, 2011 at 11:46:35 AM EST
    being homeless. I am sure there are many people including me, who would offer you a place to stay till you got back on your feet.

    I often wished I could write romance novels, apparently you can make a decent living out of it. I can help you out with the ending if you like....:-)!


    Thanks! (none / 0) (#21)
    by jeffinalabama on Wed Jul 27, 2011 at 12:29:03 PM EST
    I might need to write a bodice-ripper, then!

    please let us know (none / 0) (#22)
    by The Addams Family on Wed Jul 27, 2011 at 12:50:15 PM EST
    when the account is set up

    as for a leftist equivalent of Regnery, you might try Soft Skull Press or Southend Press - they pay $hit though - often no advance at all, & minuscule royalties


    Have you written Sci Fi at all? Any (none / 0) (#23)
    by observed on Wed Jul 27, 2011 at 03:42:08 PM EST
    interest? I'm a long time sci-fi read---I figure I've read 2000 or so sci fi books---so if had ideas in that area to toss around, I'd be interested.
    How about setting a space elevator in Kazakhstan?
    We'll say that Velikovsky's planet went by the earth again, disturbing the orbit, and leaving Kazakhstan the perfect tropical location for a space elevator, with its cheap land and stable geography.

    And the technology exists (none / 0) (#24)
    by jeffinalabama on Wed Jul 27, 2011 at 05:47:55 PM EST
    to build one... let's see, fundamentalist illiterate countryside (doesn't have to be the truth) excellent a) launching site and b)equatorial elevator site...

    Hmmmm, a fight for control of the territory?


    Have you read (none / 0) (#25)
    by observed on Wed Jul 27, 2011 at 06:43:09 PM EST
    Robert Charles Wilson's Spin and Axis?

    No, I tend to stick (none / 0) (#26)
    by jeffinalabama on Wed Jul 27, 2011 at 06:53:13 PM EST
    to "space westerns" or "Space Dramas" nowadays. I'm still trying to re-read (and in many cases read, sadly), the books I was assigned in high school and college.

    I'm glad I'm working from both ends of the candle. Re-examine "The Old Man and the Sea" immediately following "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions." Fantastically mind-expanding. better than anything except beer and grad student/faculty open discussion.


    Since you've been writing about it recently (none / 0) (#28)
    by jbindc on Thu Aug 04, 2011 at 01:07:42 PM EST
    I think you should write a book on polling.  

    Maybe you can illustrate it with cute pictures to explain it to those who don't understand your words.


    jb, most lawyers (none / 0) (#29)
    by jeffinalabama on Thu Aug 04, 2011 at 05:46:16 PM EST
    I know are math-averse. That's why they hire folks like me to do statistical investigations.

    I'll write more on this later, working on a new diary entry at present...


    One thing is for sure, (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by shoephone on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 03:22:56 PM EST
    you didn't waste of moment of time in "getting with the program." The committment you've already shown to the diet and excercise regime is remarkable. You have a goal, you have a plan, and you're doing it. And, while you may still be in some shock, you're not in denial.

    Dealing with the doctors, the administrative, and the bureauracy can be the most frustrating part. Do you have someone who can spot you on that part? Those criticizing family members are probably still in shock too. Enlisting one of them to help navigate the doctor an bureaucratic stuff will help immensely in reducing the stress and any sleeplessness. I know it may seem like a lot to ask of someone who is not reacting the way you would have hoped, but people react in different, strange ways when faced with something this serious. So ask anyway, because the more you tell people in your life, the more help you will get.

    Jeff, I'm glad you're documenting your journey through this. I only wish I had more concrete suggestions specific to your type of cancer. I'm much more familiar with the issues surrounding breast cancer.

    Keep doing what you're doing, and keep communicating about it when you can.  

    Going to take Saber 8 fishing... (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by jeffinalabama on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 03:28:46 PM EST
    I'm Saber 6-- squadron commander
    Saber 7-- Command Sergeant Major
    Saber 8-- little Jeffinalabama.

    I've heard that call numbers have changed in recent years... if so, I don't like it!

    Back later, and I'll be open and honest with answers. I'm willing to bet that Jeralyn has allowed me a cathartic opportunity here... now if any literary agents are out there, my email is posted ;-)

    Jeff (5.00 / 2) (#13)
    by CST on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 04:28:11 PM EST
    this post just made me tear up a bit.

    I'm currently facing some issues in my family where it seems like people have just given up on life, and how to deal with that when you love them, and love life, while respecting their wishes to... not care anymore I guess.

    The juxtoposition of this post with this past weekend is very stark.

    I hope you know that your strength also gives those around you strength.

    Went through that sh*t hardcore... (5.00 / 3) (#16)
    by kdog on Tue Jul 26, 2011 at 10:09:16 AM EST
    when my dad chose to give up on his life, which he preferred to getting old and feeble, even if he was nowhere near old and feeble yet.

    All I can tell ya is plead your case hard, pour your heart out, and if that fails you must find a way to accept it, difficult as it is when you love somebody so.  

    At the end of the day to each their own life, ya know?  It is our gift to maximize or surrender, and part of loving somebody is respecting what they choose for their life or death.  

    My heart goes out to you pal, it's gut wrenching.  I wish my pops had more 'Bama Jeff in him, but his whole identity was wrapped up in his strength and self-sufficiency...and like Jeff he'd give quarter all day long and twice on Sunday but would be damned to ever take any.


    I'm really glad you are sharing too (5.00 / 2) (#27)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Jul 29, 2011 at 01:55:22 AM EST
    I'm really looking forward to following your exercise and diet progress. And how close you get to your goal of " re-becoming a "lean, mean, fighting machine."

    I've really become hooked on Pilates this year and am convinced that if I were 20, I would want to be an acrobat. Right now, even the thought of standing on the high table and swinging upside down terrifies me, but I'm getting closer every session and I'm not going to stop till I can do it. ( I can hang upside down now, just not starting in a standing position.)

    It sounds like you have the doctor stuff and diet stuff down, I'll be glad to hear how that goes to.

    What impresses me most is that you are so fired up to do all this. I think a lot of people would just say "I don't have the energy, I'm not gong to anything." I think I'd be tempted to be in that category. So it's inspirational to read how determined you are to beat this, and I have no doubt that you will.

    Again, there are lots of us who are reading you, and whenever you set up a paypal account, let us know. I think it's a great idea.

    I don't know what to say, but thanks (none / 0) (#14)
    by observed on Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 04:45:33 PM EST
    for sharing.

    On the subject of victim-blaming, don't you hate Deepak Chopra? He's insufferable that  way---you only are sick because you WANT it, etc.