Recovery and Travel - June 8-18, 2008

Regular readers have likely noticed the medical action has slowed down a bit since all this started. I am personally grateful that the uncertainty range of outcomes is much narrower now, and I can actually plan to do things that need to be done - both for work and for play. On top of the bladder surgery recovery I got to have my first root canal as well. But other than the tooth issues, June is free from medical procedures. So I planned a week-long business trip to the D.C. area, and it took place last week. You may also recall that I recovered from the second surgery much more quickly than the first. Dr. Hopkins said he had no idea why one was different from the other. He thought the second one might be worse, because he had me in surgery quite a bit longer and hit 4 areas instead of 3 (two tumors plus one bladder puncture).

But really I feel pretty good these days, and had no issues packing for the trip. Road-warrior travelers know the new rules for engagement - you are permitted ONE carry-on bag (I use a rectangular gym bag that holds a lot and takes hardly any overhead space) and ONE SMALL personal item = an enormous laptop bag crammed with all kinds of useful stuff. After years of backbreaking luggage lugging, I finally bought a nice set of wheels
(Concorde II) to cart the stuff around, and that's allowed, too. Got loaded up and headed for the airport parking lot. Much to my annoyance, the area nearest the terminal (where I usually park and walk from) was permanently sealed off and empty of cars - gone forever. The airport has implemented a ginormous parking lot with three zones: Red, White, and Blue. But because locals are TOO STUPID to remember what color zone they parked in, the airport authority now routes every bus to EVERY SINGLE stop. What used to be a 5 minute bus ride or 10 minute walk is now a 20-25 minute tour of remote parking. Very annoying. Fortunately I had gathered some intelligence on where to park and minimize the hassle. Still took 13 minutes to get to the drop-off point, with ZERO WAIT for the bus. Would have been over 25 minutes had I missed that bus!

I breezed through the
Black Diamond Lane at security (for expert travelers) and made my way to the B concourse. Oddly, there were no United flights of any kind listed on the terminal monitors. I found a United agent and asked what was up. "We changed our schedules on all flights today, and because it's Sunday, the city won't update the monitors." Having lived here over 10 years, I have learned to (usually) shrug such things off. Fully loaded regional jet was on time to Denver, and I had a first class upgrade on an ancient 757 for the long leg from Denver to Dulles. The odd arrangement of seats meant that only one of the two could put their briefcase under the seat in front. The window seat was taken, along with the briefcase space. So I unloaded everything and made do. My seatmate turned out to be a decent guy named Shawn, and we alternated between small talk, reading, and watching the truly awful inflight movie: Spiderwick Chronicles. Shawn watched it as a pre-screen for his kids, and he agreed with my assessment. Arrived in DC a bit early, and schlepping carry-on bags around the cars, airports, and aircraft, was easy and pain free - as was walking great distances through airports. But the night after arrival I had very intense bladder and anal sphincter pain (weird) when anything in the intestines moved near the bladder – about 30-60 seconds per episode. Even though it kept waking me up and I had codeine, I am too stubbornly drug-free to take it for anything except constant pain. It got better Monday as I walked around, but bad again Tuesday night. But by noon Wednesday it was nearly gone. I figure the movement of things around the abdomen had a delayed reaction, and doing the exercise was probably a healthy and necessary thing.

My root canal tooth was still somewhat sensitive, and the fistula/sore in my gums lingered on. Still I was able to eat and publish a slate of restaurant reviews on my other blog, so the trip was productive from that standpoint. It was also very productive from a work standpoint, and I was able to make the acquaintance of several good contacts from a partner company. All the big aerospace companies are in competition, but we also work for each other in various arrangements. So the cooperation level is generally good, and is probably unprecedented in the commercial environment. I was drinking a good amount and peeing a lot, especially at night, so good quality REM sleep was lacking. By Friday I was toast. Arrived very early for my very full flight home - no hope of an upgrade (I was number 11 for 3 available seats). I had to settle for a decent aisle seat in Economy Plus. Much to my chagrin, the movie tape jammed and the cabin crew showed Spiderwick Chronicles again! We arrived in Denver 90 minutes late, with 10 minutes to get halfway down the concourse. This is commonplace and is known as the "Denver Dash." Fully 18 people on my 757 were racing to get to the 50 seat regional jet. Uncharacteristically United held the flight, since one of the 18 was confined to a wheelchair. Got to Salt Lake airport and home right on time and went straight to bed. No intense pain that night like early in the week, so that's a good sign!

Root canal is up to 98% good now. I don’t know if it was the dentist or my up-tightness in general that made it linger. Tried chewing some almonds today, and that was a bit much - but not impossible. In the bladder area there is some slight soreness, and the bladder seems to have mini-spasms when it's too full or empty - lasting maybe 10 minutes. It feels more "not quite right" than painful or uncomfortable. On Saturday we leave on a 9 day motorcycle trip centered around WeSTOC XIII in Taos, New Mexico, which should provide more abdomen stretching and organ strengthening opportunities. Hopefully the recovery will be fast and all this stuff will go away before they start intentionally irritating the poor organ with the BCG treatments on July 3!

1 comment:

lee said...

just touching in...glad everything so far is so good!