Greg Johnson | thorgrym
Fun with genealogy! Who are you related to? Find out who my famous ancestor is @
View all articles by thorgrym
My Journey to Wellness
  • A Busy Two Weeks! 2019-02-09T00:06:00.000-05:00
    OK, so... LOTS of unexpected events in my life over the last two weeks!  ...and, not for the best.

    Today, I returned home from my surgery (round 4) and hospital trip, but here is where it all began...

    Monday, January 28 - 

    This was day 21 of my PCV chemotherapy - the last day of taking "P" (Procarbazine) during this cycle. Everything had been going just fine - until this point.
    Later that day, I started to break out in HIVES! In addition to that, I got extremely dizzy when I stood up. Twice, I had to let Ginger out to take care of her business. She made it out the door....I made to the floor! I didn't pass out, but I totally lost my balance. Fortunately on both occasions, I didn't hit anything but the floor on my back.  No major pain, but we did call 911 the second time and I ended up at Middlesex Hospital. All they did while I was there was to measure my blood pressure in 3 different positions - lying, sitting, and standing. Due to the major drop in blood pressure while I was standing - 61/40!!! - they determined orthostatic hypotension being the cause. They basically just told me to keep hydrated to compete with the results.

    Tuesday, January 29 -

    After returning home, things went fine - but only for the next day. This time, when the dizziness kicked in, I didn't land as well! As a result, we drove to Yale-New Haven Hospital. They came up with the same diagnosis, but the hives had also really blown up! My arms and feet got really swollen! I was admitted to the hospital, but had to wait for a room. While I was in the emergency, they took a biopsy from one of the hives and started me on Claritin. Things progressed in my visit, got better, and I went home a couple of days later.

    Monday, February 4 -

    This time, I noticed that the stitched seam in my head had reopened in two places - again! Off to the hospital - again! Once again, I had to camp out in emergency until a room opened up, but surgery was planned for Wednesday. Rae, not having to work on Tuesday, stayed with me hoping to see some progress...

    Tuesday, February 5 -

    I WAS scheduled for the IV of the "V" (Vincristine) on this day - day 29 of PCV - but that had been cancelled due to the breakout of the hives the previous week. The MRI that was also planned didn't happen (and, I hadn't gotten the results from the biopsy!) Without any other progress, Rae had to go home to get some real sleep before her job on Wednesday.
    I got the visit from most of the surgery team. The plan was to have the neurosurgeon present, but only would jump into action if there were problems that he needed to work on. Otherwise, the plan was to have the plastic surgeon to remove the titanium mesh that replaced the section of bone and restitch the seam.

    Wednesday, February 6 -

    Well, they moved me out of the emergency division into a room. About an hour later, I was headed to surgery...

    ...a couple hours later, I was back in the room and had a major headache (I wonder why!?!). Recovery began. Considerably uneventful. I had two IV imports, but never had either of them used after surgery. My only negative issues that I experienced during my stay had to do with the seeming miscommunication between the doctors and nurses. Depending on who I talked to, there were different rules for me. No major problems, though.

    Friday, February 8 -

    As I type this, I am back home. I now have the pleasure (please read the sarcasm) of wearing a helmet any time that I go outside! Considering that my skull is no longer complete, serious damage to my brain could happen with any trip, fall, or other hit to my head. Otherwise, everything should return to normalcy. We'll see how things go over the next couple of days.
    PCV round 3?
    As Chicago would sing, "Where Do We Go From Here?"
  • Chemotherapy - Round 2, Day 21 2019-01-28T16:26:00.000-05:00
    Today, I finished with the "P" of the PCV chemotherapy. So far, there really has been no issues with the possible nausea from the medication! I still haven't bothered/needed to take the prescribed Zofran to fight the nausea.
    Next Tuesday, day 29 of the PCV cycle, I'm heading to the hospital for the intravenous "V" and have also scheduled an MRI to take a closer look to see if there is any progression of the tumor - positive or negative.

    I really need to comment on how blown away I am at the simplicity of chemotherapy for a tumor in my brain! Knowing what I did about chemotherapy - not previously having experienced it, personally - I didn't expect it to be so simple. The only downside - that I have experienced - is the time that I have to spend at the hospital during the cycle. The actual IV only takes about 15 minutes. The visits for the IV take about 2-3 hours! Of course, they have to get the vitals - temp (98.4!), blood pressure (124/82!), weight (164.6!), etc. - and draw some blood to test those levels. While the lab checks the blood, I wait...and wait...and wait. Also during that time, my doctor comes in to do a quick check-up. Considering that the IV visit is only twice during the 29-day cycle, I really can't complain.

    Other than the chemo, my focus today was to get some exercise! My goal was to do several sets of the 'kettlebell swing' among other things. Can I just say that I love that particular exercise?!?
    I wanted to go for another walk after my weight training, but it is just a bit too cold. I mean, it IS January, after all!

    With all things considered, it has been a great day!
  • Chemotherapy - Day 10 2018-11-25T14:35:00.001-05:00
    Things are going fine, so far. Rather than wasting your time reading these posts, I decided to only add a 'chemo-post' if things start to go wrong...
  • Chemotherapy - Day 9 2018-11-24T22:31:00.001-05:00

    Day 9 - 


    • Procarbazine (Matulane) - 100mg (for chemo)
    • Doxycycline, 100 mg (for previous infection)
    • also Zofran - 8mg  (to prevent nausea)
    6:30 AM - Again, I didn't take the zofran to prevent nausea. There seemed to be no issue, yesterday. If nausea kicks in, I can/will see if zofran works for me... As it is, I only need to take the procarbazine for chemo, today. I still have to avoid the tyramine foods.

    8:30 AM - I'm supposed to give it one hour after the "P" before I eat, but I wasn't in a hurry - or, terribly hungry. I ended up cooking an omelet - just eggs and shredded cheese - and I'm not having any issues...

    10:00 PM - No issues today. I just took the doxycycline and done for the day. I'm pleased with the way the day went.

  • Chemotherapy - Day 8 2018-11-23T19:17:00.001-05:00

    Day 8 -


    • Procarbazine (Matulane) - 100mg (for chemo)
    • Vincristine - intravenous (for chemo)
    • Doxycycline, 100 mg (for previous infection)
    • also Zofran - 8mg  (to prevent nausea)

    6:30 AM - While I now have Zofran on hand, I don't want to use more than I need. I'm giving today a test. If procarbazine - the "P" - doesn't cause me to get nauseous, I'm not going to take the Zofran. As such, I only took the prescribed 100 mg of "P," this morning. I'm drinking a lot of water with it.
    Today also introduces the need to avoid the tyramine foods. This shouldn't be a major problem, for me. There are many things on the list that I don't like to eat, anyway. The problem is that aged cheese is on the list and I do like to eat a lot of cheddar and Swiss cheese - also, I'm not supposed to eat any beef jerky...

    7:45 AM - Breakfast. Here comes the real test for nausea. It's one thing on an empty stomach but, now that I'm eating, we'll see...
    At any rate, I'm sticking to the keto diet.

    9:30 AM - just got blood drawn for testing the levels before the IV and waiting for the results.

    10:15 AM - I just got the results through email! It's really scary that I have access to the results this fast through the internet! Everything looks normal except the BUN - that's a little high. Still waiting for the doctor to approve the "V" as a result of the blood test.

    10:45 AM - Doctor meeting... Still waiting for "V" - this time, for the pharmacy to fulfill the prescription.

    12:00 PM - Finally heading home. The IV shouldn't have taken so long. Literally, it was a 2 mg dose of the vincristine in 25 g of saline.

    The rest of the day was uneventful. No negative reaction to procarbazine or vincristine - yet!

  • Chemotherapy Begins... 2018-11-16T22:40:00.000-05:00
    Not an exciting title to this post. Sorry...

    Today, 11/16/18, I began the PCV chemotherapy and I decided to log my experience with it. I will be  updating the post as the day progresses and will continue to do so in my real-time.

    Day 1 - prescribed:

    Lomustine/CCNU, 210 mg (for chemo)
    Doxycycline, 100 mg (for previous infection)

    5:30 AM - The only thing scheduled for PCV today is one dose of the "C" - lomustine/CCNU (210 mg). Taken on an empty stomach. I was supposed to have a prescription for ondansetron (Zofran) (8 mg) to treat any nausea caused by the lomustine - taken 30 minutes before taking the "C" - but the prescription wasn't issued in time for me to pick it up, yet.
    I'll brew some pau d'arco/taheebo tea for the day (my plan is to brew enough to fill one of my 64 oz. growlers for later use).

    11:00 AM - So far, so good. No reaction to the "C" but the morning got away from me and I am just getting my breakfast! I was not intending an intermittent fast. I'm taking my multivitamin with my 'brunch.' We'll see how it goes.

    5:30 PM - Just got back from the pharmacy to pick up the ondansetron prescription. Fortunately, I haven't needed it! Prepping/eating dinner. So far, I haven't experienced any nausea. With my dinner, I'm taking niacin (500 mg), potassium (200 mg), omega-3 (1500 mg), vitamin D3 (2000 IU), vitamin E (400 IU), and vitamin K2 (100 Mcg).

    8:30 PM - Snack for dinner. Supplements: niacin (500 mg), potassium (200 mg), magnesium (160 mg), omega-3 (1500 mg)

    10:30 PM - doxycycline
  • Good Times, Bad Times... 2018-11-13T15:36:00.000-05:00
    Thank you, Led Zeppelin  - "Good Times, Bad Times, you know I've had my share..."

    That's been my share for the last couple of months - good and bad times. As I mentioned in the last post, here, I didn't start with the chemotherapy due to the spiked creatinine levels and potential kidney issues. Well... shortly after that, I ended up back in the hospital for a third surgery! The stitched seam from the second surgery had *popped* open and exposed my brain to the air. As a result of the surgery, I ended up back on vancomycin. This time, they only scheduled 1,250 mg twice a day instead of 1,500 mg three times a day. I didn't have the same negative reaction - Red Man Syndrome - this time!
    Due to the possible source of the creatinine spike - muscle soreness - I didn't do ANY exercise during the recovery time... 6+ WEEKS of NO exercise! As usual with vancomycin, my appetite disappeared. This time, I tried to eat every day, but my intake was still only about 1,000-1,500 calories each day. On June 1st, I weighed in at 210 lbs., 24% body fat - fairly normal for me. As of today - Nov. 13th - I weighed in at 160 lbs. and 13.6% body fat! At one point, I was down to 156 lbs. - at 6'2" tall, that's not a terribly healthy weight!

    ...good times, bad times.

    ...excuse me for a minute - I need to answer the phone...

    Well, while I'm sitting here and typing this post, I got that phone call... Apparently, I should expect a delivery for one of the three components for the PCV chemotherapy - specifically, the "C" - tomorrow morning. I haven't gotten any information regarding the second component - the "P" - as to when I should be receiving that but it will come from a different pharmacy than the "C." As far as the "V" is expected, that is actually an IV that I will have to spend at least an hour at the hospital for.
    Once I start the cycle, I will take "C" on day 1. Then, nothing until day 8. On day 8, I start the day with the "P" on an empty stomach and, later, head to the hospital to get the IV of "V" that will take about an hour. I, then, stay on "P" everyday from day 8 through day 21. The last part of the cycle is a second IV of "V" on day 29 BUT, I then need a blood test every week until I restart the cycle. Oh, and an MRI.

    ...good times, bad times.

    More on the "good times" side than the "bad times"...
    Given that the doxycycline *apparently* didn't have much impact on the creatinine, I'm back to exercising!

  • Getting Back Into It - to a 'T' 2018-07-02T14:14:00.000-04:00
    Alright, the title of this post is a little too focused on the topic, but... 

    I've been trying to do more exercise in order to recover from the events over the last 6 months. Five to six days per week, I've mostly done exercises that only rely on bodyweight - sit-ups, push-ups, planks, etc. - but, I also have a 20 lb. bar that I use for things like bench press, bent-over row, clean and press, and more. 

    In addition to the exercise, I also spend time online trying to earn 'bucks,' points, cash, and bitcoins. One of the sites that I have been using is InboxDollars. Over the years, they have changed how you can earn dollars. Today, I was watching video clips on the site to earn some cash. I saw one video that showed the 'Bent-Over T' exercise. Given that you don't need equipment to do this exercise, I had to try it! I couldn't download the video I saw there... so, I recorded my own (it's not a spectacular video because I had to use my phone):