Story 5April2022: Day 6 Last Cycle

Sleep is still hard, but I manage to sleep from 2AM until 8ish, so that is a good night for me. I am finding more side effects to check off. I have pain and stiffness in my knees now. Check!

Years ago, I injured my left leg in a fishing accident where I fell four feet into a brush pile when returning a fish to the water that I had caught. My left knee landed on a broken-off branch and drove wood splinters into the joint. Six months later, a massive infection occurred from the wood and the shards, which did not show up on x-rays (we did not then have the excellent machines we have now that could have identified the wood) and were finally flushed out. Unfortunately, the chemo has caused the memory of the injury to return somewhat strongly in the left knee, but I can control it with ibuprofen.

The news on Susie is unexpectedly good. Susie will likely graduate from hospice on Friday. I am also trying to get the Forest Grove facility to put her back into a short rehab program to start her on her return. Susie is eating and more responsive and has had no new strokes (better living through chemistry!); thus, she is graduating. This means we will start rehab and like services again. I spoke to United Health Care (UHC), my insurance through Nike, and the benefits are available on a calendar basis. Thus, we can do them all again this year.

Aside (rant): UHC will only pay for one rehab service per person per calendar year. While the insurance industry says it does not make medical decisions, you can see that if you were injured twice in one year, you could only have rehab once–that is a medical decision in my mind. I believe that medical insurance should cover what is medically necessary and not based on effectively buying services for only one event a year. The bottom line: I am limited to one emergency a year with UHC; please schedule the unexpected to align with my annual insurance limits. Nonsense. 

UHC made an 8.7% margin in 2021 and earned more than $18 a share; details are here. The compensation for the CEO of UHC, David Wichmann, is reported to be over $17 million.

Glenda Hill, Susie’s aunt, has decided to visit and help me find a new place for Susie if we think that is a good idea, and also allow me to put the house together as now it looks like a bookstore and gaming store exploded. Glenda arrives on 16April2022, my birthday, which is +3 days after the last cycle. That is usually the first day I feel better. 

Returning to the narrative, I started my day with a call from Dawn, the hospice nurse, and she explained how Susie no longer appears to be dying and thus will be discharged soon. This would mean that she will return to the care of Forest Grove and her regular doc. Dawn believes Susie would thrive at a good Adult Foster Care place near the house. Also, in a later call, Dawn agrees that we should restart rehab at Forest Grove when hospice ends. Exciting!

I write a short blog that does not contain this information about Susie as I am still trying to understand it all. I also have to communicate it all to family and friends. As you read, today’s blog contains that update.

I have my last banana and peanut butter toast for breakfast and a salami and cheese sandwich for lunch. Again, nausea is hard to put out of my mind, but I keep going without seeing lunch a second time. I throw on some clothes on and drive Corwin to work. Later, I shower and head out in the mid-afternoon.

I did take my pills and chemotherapy pills at 10AM.

Air Volvo reaches the Forest Grove Rehab and Care Center at 3900 Pacific Highway, Room 44A, without incident and with no alarms.

Susie is up and finished with lunch when I get there. I am exhausted already and sit in the chair next to Susie; Susie is delighted to see me. We call Leta, her mother, and Susie is happy to chat. Next, we call Dr. Peter Koper, who is in Arizona watching birds. I share that Susie is graduating from hospice, and we celebrate that and that I am in my last cycle. After that, Susie is tired and wants to rest. Susie’s roommate, Terry, is back, and I am happy to see her. She is pale and shows the exhaustion of some medical adventures (I can’t share anything on that) and is also excited that Susie is graduating from hospice. Terry helped Susie calm down and rest some nights. Terry helped Susie get better.

I leave as they are getting Susie back in bed to rest before dinner. I drive directly home in Air Volvo and rest for a bit. I cannot sleep despite the fatigue, so I watch more Clone Wars.

I order Indian food using GrubHub. Thank you, Nike and the Smiths in New York City, for the cards. I ordered from Abhiruchi Restaurant and had Chicken Tikka Kabab.

I watched more Clone Wars–it is endless with 22 episodes a season, and I think five seasons. Again, not sure it really is a kid’s show with the darkness.

Aside: I put in sell orders for options and stock to cover the extra expenses for Susie (and to a limited degree myself). I am blessed to still have much of my holdings as I was thinking about retirement. But, I was not expecting to pay what amount to the cost of a trip to Europe every two weeks for Susie’s care, but I believe I can manage it, another thanks to Nike, Inc. for all the good years. Also, my 401K has lost only about 9% this year–my holdings include 29% in bonds, and most equities are in the USA, thus avoiding direct exposure to the war. Susie’s IRA, PAX, shows a 6.3% loss for the year. So far, I can handle the money side of things.

I head to bed and continue to sleep and wake up again, repeatedly, until 2AM and then finally sleep once the chemotherapy I took at 10PM wears down.




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