Monday, September 22, 2008

Dino's Journey Continues

Mary and I have created a memorial fund in Dino's honor at the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County. We will be reaching out to people who want to do something positive in Dino’s memory. Over the next year, we will be working together and with all of his friends to decide the best use of the contributions that are made to the fund.

Dino was so many things; a writer, a musician, and more than anything else, a fabulous friend. He loved children and he had his favorite causes. Because his life was cut short by a rare and fast-moving cancer, our dream is to create a memorial that captures Dino's spirit and helps others in ways that would have been meaningful to him.

If you would like to make a tax-deductable donation to the Dino's Journey fund, here's what you can do right now:

- A. (check) Make your check payable to: The Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County (with a notation at the bottom that says For Dino's Journey). Send to 2425 Porter Street, Suite 17, Soquel, CA 95073

- B. (credit card) This link will take you to the on-line memorial gift section of the Foundation’s website: Please put For Dino’s Journey in the Special Instructions box.

The Foundation's phone number is (831) 477-0800.

You can also reach Dick Scoppettone at (831) 588-5614 - send email to or Mary Scoppettone at (831) 345-0304 - send email to

And . . . Dino’s website,, is officially up now (put together by Tony Chan). It’s still in basic one-page form because we need to come up with a color scheme, logo, links, and content. If you’ve got any suggestions, please let us know. Should we continue to use the blog to get information out or should we shift over to the website?

With much love//Dick, Mary, Nick & Chris

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Hi Everyone - we're still here. I know we've been out of touch for awhile, but we've been working on the Dino's Journey fund and it looks like it's about ready to go. Should have good details this week. Love to all of you.//Dick

Monday, August 25, 2008

Thank you - each and everyone

Wasn't yesterday the best? For those of you who couldn't make it to our Day with Dino, we, all of us, soaked up every bit of our favorite son, brother and friend. And to all who were there, your presence carried us through what, for maybe another family, may have been a real tide of grief.

Instead, the opportunity to meet and touch and talk with all of you left us with the best of memories, and I know our boy was truly pleased with an event so rightfully in his honor.

I've been responding to a few e-mails today - obviously I'm taking it easy, but I wanted to mention something that's brewing amongst us family members. It feels like there may be more to Dino's Journey - I really don't know exactly what, but it seems like there's something else hanging out there - some kind of very focused intention. Stay in touch with me, would you, particularly if you've got some ideas.

As always, all our love to you.//Dick, Mary, MiMi, Nick & Amber, Chris & Virginia and Theresa and family

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Special Tribute to Dino on KSCO AM1080

There will be a special two-hour radio tribute to Dino this Saturday, August 23 on KSCO AM1080. The live program airs from 10AM to 12N and they'll be taking your calls.

If you live out of the Santa Cruz area, you can listen to the show on your computer by connecting to the live stream at

To call in to the program from anywhere, dial (831) 479-1080.

Michael Zwerling, the station owner has known Dino for many years as Dino did a numbers of radio shows from there (like calling in reports from the winter Olympics in Albertville, France).

On the e-mail front, we're approaching 250 and they just keep coming. You know I promised to respond to all of them, but I'm realizing now that it won't be before Sunday - so please forgive. I think the memorial is going to be quite amazing. Hope you can make it. Love to all.//Dick

The Celebration after the Celebration

As part of getting ready for Dino's memorial on Sunday, I wanted to let you know that we're going to be having a feast after the memorial at Peachwood's which is near the Pasatiempo Golf Course in Santa Cruz - and you know that you're all invited. It will give us a chance to talk to so many of you that have responded to Dino's blog. My e-mails just topped 200 this morning and the stories are absolutely priceless.

We'll have an open mike there, so if you want to ramble at some length about our boy, you'll have the floor. Also, Marjorie Puruganan, one of Dean's co-workers at Sega is putting together a slide show. If you've got any pics you want to submit, e-mail them to Marj at

Getting to Peachwood's is easy - it's very near the Hwy 1/Hwy 17 interchange (we call it the Fishhook) and there will be maps at Pacific Gardens Chapel to assist everyone in getting there. Since the memorial's at 2PM, we should be heading over there by 3 or 3:30. Here's the address:

Peachwood's Steakhouse
555 Highway 17
Santa Cruz, CA
(831) 426-6333

Looking forward to our meeting. Love//Dick

PS: Dino's obituary was published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel today. If you'd like to read it and add a remembrance, go to

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hope You Can Make It To Dino's Memorial

I'm just beginning to read all the e-mails you are sending (over 120 so far) and it will take awhile to respond, but I will, to each and every one of you. Such loving thoughts coming in from all of Dino's wonderful friends.

We picked the date for Dino's memorial: this coming Sunday, August 24 at 2PM in Santa Cruz. Here's the location:

Benito & Azzaro
Pacific Gardens Chapel
1050 Cayuga Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95062
(831) 423-5721 - Vince Azzaro

We sure hope you can make it. Afterwards, (we haven't picked the location yet, but it will be close by) we'll have a celebration, one that Dino will be most excited about. I'll tell you more as it comes together. (Any ideas, let me know.) Thanks for being there for us.

We love you,
Dick (Dino's dad) and MiMi (his step-mom or bonus mom) Scoppettone
Mary (Dino's mom) Scoppettone
Nick (Dino's brother) Scoppettone and his fiance, Amber
Chris (Dino's step-brother) Petrakis and his girl, Virginia

Monday, August 18, 2008

I'll Know What To Say

My son, Dino passed away this evening a little after 8PM. My heart hurts to say it and I know yours hurts to hear it. But this was Dino's Journey. Over the months, on those nights when I thought about losing him, I stayed away from it by insisting on focusing on the present. For most of my life, I've been something of a rehearsed man, often planning things months in advance. No more. I told myself that I will know what to say if this day ever comes, and now this day is here.

My son was a beautiful man who belonged to all who knew him. No loner was he, but rather a blend of everyone he met and loved, interwoven with his buddies and their children and their parents and his workmates. Though he didn't raise a family of his own, he belonged to many families, and over the past weeks and months, we've had the privilege to meet them, all wonderful people.

When I finished a novel some years ago, he read it, and re-read it, and re-read it again, each time adding a missing comma or suggesting another way to punch up a phrase. And each time I trusted him. He and I spoke the same language.

When it came time for him to move on tonight, his mother, Mary was rubbing his hair, and around his bed, everyone touched him gently; my wife, MiMi; my son, Nick with his fiance, Amber; Dean's stepbrother, Chris and his girl Virginia; and his good friend, Andrew McGraw. Moments after he passed, Carlos arrived, as well as Dino's special friend, Andi who had flown from Seattle.

Over the months, as we saw all the responses to his blogs, it became apparent that there were many people we had never met. Can I ask a favor of all of you? We really need to touch you, whether truly hand in hand or by e-mail. Here's my e-mail address: If you knew my son or read his blog, would you e-mail me and tell me your thoughts? This journey of the last three months wasn't done alone, it was done with all of you.

I will let you know of the funeral arrangements as soon as I know. For sure, the gathering will be in Santa Cruz. Hold us in your hearts. We love you all. And my boy continues on the grandest journey of them all.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Mt. Hoffman

Picture yourself on the summit of a high mountain in the Sierras. The view in every direction goes for hundreds of miles. To the south is Mt. Lyell and Mt. Ansel Adams, the east Mt. Dana and Mt. Conness, and about 3,000' below the tips of your toes lies Tenaya Lake. You have arrived at the 11,200' peak of Mt. Hoffman.

Years ago, when Dino was just a teen, we made the ascent to this glorious place and sopped up the most spectacular views and emotional highs in all of Yosemite. Mt. Hoffman is the geographic center of God's summer home, Yosemite National Park, and that day remains instantly accessable to me. During the climb, we found ourselves momentarily surrounded by a storm (the black rolling thunderheads were actually below us, encircling the mountain) and we took refuge in a small outcropping of rocks. Normally, one would never climb during nasty weather, but that morning began as a blue-sky day and we were three quarters of the way up the mountain.

The storm passed and we made it to the summit around noon, each of us silent, in awe, captivated completely by something we'd never before experienced. I quietly, almost respectfully, pulled a walkman from my pack and passed the headphones for each to take a breathless listen and fully complete the panorama - the Largo movement of Dvorak's New World Symphony.

I felt compelled to speak, "Someday, when one of you is facing a crisis of some sort or just a terribly stressful day, wherever you may be, whether in a high-rise or by the ocean, remember this moment. No matter what may happen to you, this place, this picture will always be here just as you see it now."

Let's visualize this for Dean. The view of a thousand miles, snow-capped peaks, a swirling gentle wind. That view is God. As you inhale, you feel millions of fresh energy cells fill your body, stimulating your senses like the dawn of a blue-sky morning. Breathing out, you watch the shriveling cancer cascade down the rocks, breaking into pieces and ultimately turning to fine dust. Inhale the good, exhale the bad. Do this whenever you think of Dean.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Chemo's Dosing Dem Cells Outta Me Body

(As dictated by Dino to Dick)
Hi gang, Dino back in control here for the moment. It's now been 24 hours since they started my chemo treatment and there are lots of sighs of relief happening from a great many family and friends.

Thus far (knock on wood), I have yet to feel any seriously detrimental side effects; in fact, the drugs have made me lazy today and seem to have helped the pain level. We are unclear of the complete protocol, but we will let you know when we know more.

Very happy to be back at Alta Bates after five days at Alameda. We needed to be in Alameda to receive the pain pump. However, the quality of care at that facility simply does not measure up to what Alta Bates has to offer. To give you a short example, when I asked for a 10mg dose of Dilaudid, the docs at Alameda seemed so shocked and were so reluctant to provide this -- even though it was standard at Alta Bates -- that they made me wear a permanent EKG unit to check my heart function. This stupid unit caused me a considerable amount of discomfort and irritation for the five days I was there. I don't want to slag Alameda too much, but suffice it to say, we're all very happy to be back at Alta Bates.

Medically, there are a lot of niggling side issues that have kept us from getting chemo to this point, but when push comes to shove, we needed to begin chemo and blow out the cancer that's in my body. I won't bore you with the many details of these finer points that have held us up, but some were serious enough to force the doctors to err on the side of caution. Now, it's time to endure the protocol and take it as we go from there. If the treatment leaves me feeling anything like I do today, then I will consider myself to be truly blessed. Something tells me it won't be this easy the whole time, but we'll just take each day as it comes.

I have received several notes and e-mails recently indicating that I need to inject more of my presence back into the blog. I hear your messaging loud and clear. All I can say is that for the past two or three weeks, I have really not had the mental or physical energy to put together a substantial blog post. As we move through chemo and also deal with the recovery period in each cycle, I hope to begin a more reliable routine in which I can keep you all updated. A friend of mine said last weekend "We will always be here for you, but you need to sometimes make yourself available to us." I totally agree with that statement; each and every one of you deserves to know exactly what my current situation is. To that end, I have asked my Dad to take "dictation" which he is doing now and I will continue to use my parents as a resource so that you can read my thoughts through their fingers.

As for visitors, I know there are many of you that have expressed interest in coming to see me, and that makes me immeasureably happy. Unfortunately, my energy levels go up and down at a whim so often that making advance plans can be difficult. Please understand that most visits should be held to about twenty minutes or less; this is simply because several occasions of long visits have led me to pretty severe exhaustion and pain that is not easily controlled. I would love to see all of you guys, and I know that when the time is right, I will.

So that's the big news for the week. Now it's simply a matter of enduring whatever it is chemo has to offer. It may be a few days before I update again or I might have Dad or Mom help me with one. Outside of that, just waiting for football season to get started. Hope this blog brings you a little bit closer to where I am in the current moment. Keep livin', keep lovin' and enjoy your hot summer afternoons. With much love,


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Chemo Has Started

As of early this evening, Dino is finally getting his first round of chemo (four different drugs with continuous drip over the next four days). This morning however, started with another bump. The surgeon who was to install the PortaCath (a semi-permanent port in Dino's chest to use mainly for the infusion of chemo drugs) decided that since Dino still has some sort of infection and a slighly elevated temperature, he wanted to wait until next Monday to do the surgery for this port.

Another depressing moment - until late this afternoon when a nurse came into Dino's room to say that they would be starting chemo shortly. I asked if she knew the port had been held up until Monday and she said that she had just spoken to Dr. Cecchi, Dino's oncologist and he directed her to start chemo immediately, port or no port. So, for now they are using the PICC line instead. Like us, Cecchi simply didn't want to wait any longer.

So, let's pray that the next four days will begin to knock back the tumor. I think we've got to put up the "No Visitors" sign again (until Dino gives the go-ahead).

I know there's little miracles happening here, so keep pushing them our way. This afternoon, after Mary returned to Santa Cruz (and prior to hearing of Cecchi's order to start right away), she sent out an e-mail to her group of friends asking them to pray for the removal of all these continuing obstacles. It was shortly after that e-mail went out that I called her from Dino's room to tell her that Cecchi said, "We're going now!"

And yesterday, some of you may have noticed a brief note in response to Monday's blog (from a fellow named Trent). I picked up on it immediately and contacted him. He's here in the Bay Area, and in 1992 had surgery for a "retro-peritoneal myxoid liposarcoma" - a 20 lb. tumor in fact. Almost identical to Dino. It seems he had been watching Dino's blog for some time and finally decided to weigh in. Since this particular form of cancer is so rare, we're hoping to put he and Dino together soon.

Sorry to be so short, but it's late and I'm really tired. Hang in there, gang.

Dick Scoppettone
Dino's dad

Monday, August 4, 2008

Baubles, Bangles and Bumps

As most of you know, Dino has a new bauble, his SynchroMed II pain pump. Over the last four days, his doctor has readjusted it, slowly zeroing in on what will be the best pain management. Dr. Behravan's goal is to get him to a "3 or under" on the 1-to-10 pain level chart. I think Dino is probably very close to that now, but it's still a bit of a balancing act.

It feels to me like the pump may possibly need to be adjusted downward, primarily because Dino's spent the last day hallucinating quite a bit. Last night was one of those "no sleep" nights for both Dean and I because he spent the entire night talking to countless unknown characters, sometimes very loudly, sometimes singing, mostly unintelligible (except for when he told someone, a waitress I suppose, that "I'll have the scrambled eggs with bacon, but I'm not going to pay $1,100.00 for it!")

One of the bangles that accompanied the pain pump is a hand-held unit whereby Dino can give himself a "bolus" (an extra dose) every four hours if he needs it. He simply holds this device over the pump and presses several icons on a small computer screen to activate the bump-up. However, Dr. Behravan advised us today to hold off on the bolus for awhile because Dino appears to be addicted to the high levels of Dilaudid (I know, we don't like it either, but it goes with the territory) and thus it's time to begin a partial withdrawal down to a point that still regulates his pain but doesn't prompt hallucinations. So, the baubles and the bangles do serve their purpose, but nothing is perfect and we still have to get this one under control.

Regarding the bumps, we found ourselves saying shortly after his surgery (almost eight weeks ago) that things were probably going to get worse before they get better. I've kind of given up on that phrase and shifted into a different gear by saying that things aren't necessarily getting worse anymore - rather there's a continuing series of bumps that will be occuring for awhile. After all, we haven't started chemo yet (maybe by the end of this week), but we know that will be a bumpy road. And who knows what else is on the horizon.

I do know one thing, and maybe you can weigh in on this - we've got to get Dino mentally (and physically) back into the driver's seat. He's become accustomed to being waited on hand and foot (out of real necessity, of course), but he needs to take back some control for himself now. As an example, I ask him everyday if he wants to do a blog, but he passes on it. Same with having visitors, he doesn't want any. I know his world has gotten extremely focussed of late, but I think it's time to start the re-expansion process - time to get his juices flowing again. Let me know what you think.

Stay tuned for the chemo schedule. As soon as I hear, you'll hear. Love ya.

Dick Scoppettone
Dino's dad

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Pump has Landed

After a three hour procedure late yesterday morning, the pain pump (we'll have to give it a name) has now taken up a good and proper residence just under the surface of Dino's left abdomen. We haven't seen it yet because it was still covered with gauze yesterday, but we expect that it might be felt as a slight bump similar to a pacemaker. It's about 3 1/2" in diameter and 3/4" thick with a catheter tube (also under the skin) that circles around to his back and into his spine. It represents the ultimate form of immediate pain relief.

Dr. Behravan, who performed the operation, says that Dino will finally be able to dispense with all the pills, patches, and IV's and rely solely on the pump for pain relief. I know you're exhaling with the same sigh of relief as us - his pain for the last seven weeks has been constant and unforgiving. I suspect he'll do a major blog on the issue of pain somewhere down the line.

It sort of feels to me like Phase One, if you want to call it that, is rapidly coming to a close. His surgery, recovery and pain management appear to be behind us now and so we move into Phase Two: chemo.

His oncologist, Dr. Cecchi has been pushing to start the chemo phase and, barring any other complications, I expect that will begin soon. There is a side issue, or complication if you will - his continuing bowel obstruction (I'm starting to sound like I'm the guest lecturer at a physician's seminar, this is not good, I gotta get back out into the sun). At any rate, the obstruction may be likely due to the spread of the tumor, but our preference is to start pounding away with chemo and address the bowel problem from some other avenue.

There, now that that's out of the way, let me say that today begins with goodness. All days do really. We just get sucked into dealing with the garbage first and forget about the more important things, like the love you're sending our way. As an example, from the many prayer groups pouring their waterfalls of wonderful thoughts over Dino, one put into their regimen yesterday a "prayer chain" wherein each member of the group took one specific hour out of their day to pray him through the pain pump installation. So, I'll say it again - today begins with goodness.

Dick Scoppettone
Dino's dad

Monday, July 28, 2008


It was bound to happen sooner or later. Friday night a few of Dino's buddies dropped in, with the proviso to keep it short, fifteen minutes or so, but Dino responded favorably under the circumstances and the evening was bright and fun. This from a guy who, as we speak, has four bags of various meds feeding into a PICC line and a nasal drain from his nose to a collecting container. By Sunday he was basically paying for his indiscretions and so we've shifted into "No Visitors" mode for the rest of this week. But that's not the story here.

Saturday a few friends returned, among them Tracy and his wife Erica. Her mom was due to arrive shortly. During the preceding week, several of us had been discussing the issue of spirituality and were wondering if Dino had a spiritual adviser. His friends didn't think so and my only recollection was that Dean had been involved with a Christian group, Young Life some twenty years ago. Of late, we had not discussed the subject with Dino because he hadn't indicated that it was on his list of hot topics. That is, not until Edna arrived.

When Tracy introduced his mother-in-law, we had just stepped out of the room and down the hall for some knockout pizza that Chris and Virginia brought in. Edna's presence immediately filled the waiting area and my piece of pizza found its way to a side chair. She was a vivacious, dynamic lady, this Edna, and within moments, she had recruited everyone into a prayer circle inviting the Lord and his angels to take a whack at Dino's recent detour down Cancer Lane.

Normally, this would not be my thing, but then again I had never met Edna. Within moments, we were ready to dispatch last year's Super Bowl winners to the trash heap. She had met Dino several years ago, but assumed he would not remember her. We immediately towed her to his room - he immediately remembered her. (One could not not remember Edna.) Over the next twenty minutes, the room was filled with a wonderfulness that is best described as "You had to be there." She did a laying on of hands, this woman who said she wasn't a minister. Dino was filled with emotion (as were all of us) and he asked for a second round which, of course, she obliged. Then, as quick as she appeared, she was gone. I didn't get her number, didn't need to; I know she'll show up again.

Back to basic reporting. Today's Monday and only two days left until the install of the spinal pain pump. I won't tell you yet what we're going through with the insurance people just to pull this off. You'd only be pissed. I'm sure Dino will "elucidate" at some point in the future.

Regarding his pain level, the nights are the roughest. Last night he was up to a six on the pain scale. This may be a combination of both surgery pain and tumor pain. The sarcoma continues to grow (though by how much we don't know). That's why chemo MUST get underway as soon as his pain is consistently manageable. His condition is serious, and though these blogs don't spend a lot of time dealing with the downside, we're all aware of it. The cakewalk ended long ago - now we're into the tough stuff. Consequently, the "No Visitors" sign is posted this week - with Dino apologizing profusely, which of course, he doesn't need to do. By next weekend, we'll see how he's doing and take it from there. Naturally, you'll be the first to know, so everybody stay strong and keep the faith. Let's blast this sucker to smithereens! Thanks and all our love.

Dick Scoppettone
Dino's dad

Friday, July 25, 2008

A Nice Little Pik-Me-Up

Dino got a Pik line put line put in today (actually PICC, but can't remember what it means). It's a type of intravenous line that allows for delivery of pain meds AND nutrients in the same dual tube. Much better than the old IV that keeps getting moved from arm to arm to arm. (I think Dino's gone thru six or seven arms worth of various needles).

He keeps saying "Cancer's not for sissy's" and there's some real stories that have occurred over the last few 3AM's - way more than I can write about, but when he gets his energy back, he'll talk it through wit ya. Mary and I are staying in his fifth floor "suite" at Alta Bates - big room with a great view which he has yet to really enjoy. But he will soon. The spinal pain pump got approved yesterday and gets put in next Wed. (I know, we don't want to wait either, but . . . please see title of last blog).

At any rate, you know I like to keep it short. This is Dino's Journey and he's got lots to tell so stay tuned. For now, I'll just borrow the words of an old rocker, "It's been a long, strange trip."

Dick Scoppettone
Dino's dad

Monday, July 21, 2008

Hurry Up and Wait

Dino had another bout with a bowel obstruction and got readmitted to Alta Bates on Saturday. He'd been attempting to stay hydrated as well as keeping up with the prune juice/stool softener regimen, but it just wasn't enough to stay ahead of the constipation effect from the Dilaudid pills. Actually, we're all somewhat comforted that he's back in the hospital because we know he's getting immediate attention and that all the bases are covered.

Speaking of which, there's a couple of future bases we're seeking to get covered ASAP. First, the installation of a spinal pump which will circumvent the need for all the pill taking and which doesn't have the nasty constipation side effects. Today will be Day #6 in the wait for Blue Cross to approve this. We're not anticipating a problem with the authorization - it's just that they're obviously not on the same time frame we are.

Second, we're looking to start Dino's first round of chemo also ASAP because there is some evidence that the tumor may be growing back. Though it's not crystal clear yet (they can't see it on the latest CT scan), a combination of factors seems to be pointing in that direction. If it is growing back, we don't know at what speed or how large, but everyone agrees that this type of tumor responds well to chemo and so it's time to get on with the program. Dr. Cecchi, the Alta Bates oncologist is unavailable until Thurs. so we're hoping that Thurs. may be the start date.

As for Dino's spirits, he's awake and conversing and very much wanting to get this thing going as he has been all along. Those of you that have experienced similar health issues know that sooner or later the "roller-coaster effect" can begin to appear (one day up, next day down, hurry up and wait, etc.). We're kind of in the middle of that right now, but once we get the first round of chemo started, things hopefully will become a little more predictable (and comfortable). That's not to say that the chemo doesn't carry with it its own associated problems, but at least we'll know that a program is finally underway to start knocking back that tumor.

Dino loves hearing your comments so keep 'em coming. Don't know when he'll start doing his own blogs again (he asked me to bring his laptop to the hospital today and I'm doing so, but don't know if there's a WiFi setup there). If he doesn't jump back on the blog, I'll keep you posted on the progress of the pain pump install and chemo startup. As always, we love you and thanks for being there.

Dick Scoppettone
Dino's dad

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Major Payne

"Ain't nothing I can do, but... ramble on."
-Led Zeppelin

Hi folks,

As you probably have noticed, my blog entries have slowed quite a bit. In the past, this could easily have been chalked up to my normal laziness, and the fact that quite often I will begin a project with much enthusiasm, only to lose interest halfway through and move on to other endeavors. Many of you that have worked with me or have known me a long time can probably rattle off quite a few examples of conversations with me that approximate the following:

You: "What have you been up to these days?"
Me: "Oh, I'm doing Project X, it's gonna be awesome! Just you wait and see, darn tootin'!"

Two months later...

You: "Hey, how's Project X coming along?"
Me: "Ohhhhhh... uhhhhh... sort of on the back burner at the moment... I'm working on Project Y right now, I think it's going to be really cool. Really boss, I'm tellin' ya."

And Project Y begets Project Z, which begets Project ZZ, which begets Project ZZZ, which begets me taking a long nap. Eventually, nothing gets done on anything.

Well, that's not the case here, which is both good and bad. The good part is that I am still very excited about writing this blog and keeping everyone updated on my journey. I know that I have a lot of friends and family that check in several times a week and it's really gratifying to me to know that so many people are keeping tabs on me and (hopefully) enjoying my writing. And I know that once my journey is mostly through, I will be able to take this blog and use it to help others that are going to follow a similar path.

The flipside is that as of late, I just haven't had the energy to write. I've had tons of time, but energy is a whole other story.

Actually, maybe "energy" is not quite the right word... it's hard to describe what's keeping me from writing more often, but if you had to sum it up in one word, it would probably be "pain."

I'm a little over five weeks post-surgery and unfortunately, I am still suffering a lot of abdominal pain where my surgical scars are. This pain is not intermittent, it does not go away for any long periods of time, and it makes my life quite challenging in a variety of ways. I'm taking a variety of medications to try to control the pain and while some of them have had an effect, nothing has served to eradicate the constant discomfort that envelops the right side of my torso, both front and back.

Those that have seen my scar can easily understand why this pain is occurring -- all told, the incision is at least 10 inches long, maybe even a foot long. (Look for the new "Dino's Scar" bacon and turkey sub at Quizno's, slated to hit the menu next month. It looks funky but trust me, it's tasty.) To complicate matters, I had a kidney removed, I lost my right adrenal gland, and I had small parts of my liver and my bowel taken out as well. Just about every medical professional I've spoken to has told me that such prolonged pain is not uncommon after a surgical procedure like the one I had, which was a major surgery in every sense of the term.

So for the past few weeks, life has pretty much been a waiting game, as each day I struggle to find comfortable positions in which to sit or lie down (I can't lie flat, so I have a boatload of pillows propping me up). If I'm lucky and the medications are working and I find a good spot on the bed, sometimes I can go for an hour or two with very minimal discomfort, and life ain't so bad. Otherwise, well, let's just say I spend a whole lot of time adjusting pillows, getting up and walking around, switching chairs for two minutes only to move back to the original chair I was sitting on, etc.

I know that this pain will pass; I just don't know when, but it has to be soon, because I need to begin chemotherapy before the month ends. Yesterday, Dad and I met with a pain specialist in San Leandro who prescribed another couple of specific pain meds for me and is scheduling a procedure to actually put an internal pump into my stomach that will release special pain medication directly to the affected areas. It's an outpatient procedure and it should really make life a lot easier once it's installed, which should be early next week. With this pump, the doctor can control which meds are used and can vary the dosage depending on my level of pain, but most importantly, the pump targets the stomach abdomen directly and doesn't waste time on the rest of my body, meaning that it can use far less medicine to accomplish the same exact results we're getting now.

Indeed, medicine was a big part of last week's problem. I had been warned by several people -- both friends and physicians -- that a major side effect of taking dilaudid and other opiate-based medications would be constipation, and that I would have to take steps to offset those effects. To do so, I was taking an over-the-counter stool softener that seemed to work okay. However, towards the end of last week, as my pain started to grow and my body's tolerance for dilaudid began to increase -- forcing me to take more of the drug to achieve the same level of relief -- I didn't increase my intake of the "antidote" as well. By Wednesday of last week I was slamming dilaudid like never before, but as the day crept along, I began to notice a new pain.

I would assume most of you reading out there have suffered constipation at one point or another. I don't need to get into the details other than to say that your typical garden-variety constipation really sucks. Well, this drug-induced constipation sucked times ten. By Thursday, in addition to the normal abdominal pain, I was getting fierce shooting pain on the other side of my body, and all my best efforts to relieve myself were for naught. I had really jacked up the dosage of stool softener and my parents brought in the dreaded milk of magnesia, but neither seemed to have an effect.

So, Friday morning at 3 AM, after enduring a major bout of piercing pain, I had Mom drive me to the emergency room. My hope was that they would give me something to clear me out and then just let me go home, but of course, they admitted me as a patient, and I spent two more nights in the hospital. The constipation situation resolved itself on Friday afternoon when, just after checking into my room, I bolted to the restroom and gave birth for the second time in five weeks. Check the Guinness Book next year; I'll certainly be listed as the only male to give birth not once but twice -- first to Kuato, and then to whatever concoction of stuff it was that was jamming up my bowels for three days.

(By the way, ladies, I'm going to assume that giving birth to a child is even more laborious and painful than my Friday experience, and for that, you have my eternal respect. If my future wife is out there reading this, just know that once we have our first child, I will take you to a fine meal at BK or Wendy's to show my appreciation for the ordeal you will have gone through. Guys simply have no way of understanding what that sort of pain is like, but I think I got a slight glimpse after Friday's fiasco.)

Hospital was more of the same -- poking, prodding, no sleep, crappy TV, continual discomfort -- and I'll share all my hospital thoughts in a future post. Just know that I lobbied hard to be released on Sunday and so they let me go after giving me more prescriptions and yet another protocol to follow to try to control my abdominal pain. I now have over 20 bottles of pills strewn about my bathroom counter, some of which I use on a daily basis, some of which were prescribed several weeks ago and are now "obsolete" in terms of what I'm supposed to be taking in order to control the pain in my gut.

So, here I am on Wednesday morning. Dad just left, Mom is coming up in a couple hours to take his place and stay for a few days, and I'm actually not feeling too badly. I didn't sleep well, but I ran a hot bath at 5 AM and sat in it for a while, and that seemed to relax my body enough so that when I got back into bed, I was reasonably comfortable. Maybe I've found another outlet to provide at least some short-term relief... we'll see.

I'm slowly and cautiously getting back to eating solid food and I'm making sure to take all the anti-constipation meds in copious doses. So far there have been no problems, and I need it to stay that way. My initial guess after surgery was that I'd begin chemo before July was over, but I thought I'd be much further along in my rehab by July 16th than I currently am at the moment. I haven't really gained any weight back, and two different stays in the hospital have stunted the amount of rest, energy and strength I've been able to accumulate -- things that I will need in large quantities in order to endure the chemotherapy protocol.

As far as chemo goes, we're going to have to start it soon. Dr. Jacobs at Stanford took a look at my latest CAT scan from this last weekend at the hospital and expressed a bit of concern that the small sarcoma seedlings that were left over from the operation are beginning to grow. This is of no surprise at all, but it does mean that I'm going to have to begin chemo treatment in short order; I'm not going to be able to wait until September, for instance, or wait until the scar is completely healed and I've gained 15 pounds and am ambling around pain-free. No, it's not a best-case scenario, but like everything else about this journey, I'll just have to suck it up and get it done. I have all confidence that the chemo regimen, as much as it will suck, will crush the remaining cancer, and if I have to endure the regimen in sub-optimal shape, well, so be it. No one ever said this was gonna be easy.

I continue to be inundated with gifts, requests for visits, emails, cards, and everything else. You guys have no idea what this means to me; it really is one of the things that keeps me going during the tough times, the long nights when the pain is insufferable and the clock moves at about an hour per minute. My support group is everything to me and though I sound like a broken record, I want to say again: thank you for those prayers, positive thoughts, gifts and cards, and everything else. I'm behind on my personal correspondence and until I get the pain under control consistently (let's hope this internal pump next week will have a major impact), some of you may not hear back from me, but trust that your thoughts are always heard and they keep my spirits in the stratosphere, even when it feels like this situation will never end.

The thing is, I know it will end, and I know there is an amazing life waiting for me on the other side of this, and even though that point might be many months away, the knowledge that I will survive, combined with the power of my support group, provides me with a strength that I'll never be able to quantify. My parents wonder why I don't seem to get depressed or why I don't spend a lot of time crying, and the fact is, I just don't feel that way. I'm sure I will at some point, but overall, I feel like this is just the path that has been laid before me, and I must follow it, and it will lead to good things for me and for everyone else that is following me and carrying me on their shoulders through the rough patches. It might suck at times, but we'll all be stronger for it in the end.

At the same time, while I don't ever really get depressed per se, I have to say that the pain typically leaves me wanting to just be alone. When the pain gets to be too bad, I can't really talk because even talking for 20 seconds starts to constrict my abdomen area and causes further discomfort. Even if I could talk, however, the fact is that these days, I'm in pain often enough that most of the time, I really prefer to just lie in bed and read or watch TV by myself.

A lot of you have inquired about visiting and although I feel badly about it, I've had to tell just about everyone to hold off for now. Please understand that it's nothing personal; it's simply that until I get to the point where I'm comfortable enough to handle visitors for any amount of time, I just need space to rest and heal. My parents can attest to the fact that even when it's just me and them sitting in the living room watching TV or something, I have very little to say and most of the time I just bag out and head to my room to lie down anyway. So, even for those of you that say "we don't even have to talk, we can just watch TV together or something" -- which is a kind sentiment that I've heard from many friends -- please understand that it's more just a matter of me wanting to be alone until I'm healed enough and pain-free enough to start being more social. As George Costanza would say: "It's not you, it's me!" Well, even though he was full of crap, in this case, it's true. Really. Honestly.

So, that's my ramble for Wednesday morning. I expect to spend a lot more time in bed today, reading on my Kindle (man, I love that thing) and catching up on the sleep I didn't get last night. I'll try to jump back tomorrow to start catching up on other thoughts I've had from the past couple weeks of near-silence you've seen on this blog. Reminder: my friend Andi is still working on donations for her marathon run, so check out if you haven't already.

And finally, a shout-out to my wonderful brother Nick, who turns 35 today. Happy birthday, kid. Wish I could be there to spend the day with you, but I'll talk to ya on the phone. Enjoy the day and don't worry about the fact that you're getting old -- it happens to all of us.

As for that "enjoy the day" thing, that goes for the rest of you too. Thanks for reading and I'll be back soon.

With much love,

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sunday Night...

...and I'm back home. Surgery scar pain is still the same (fluxes from okay to pretty bad) but the bowel issue is gone, which is why I went there in the first place. Just wanted to let you all know, and I'll have a longer update tomorrow once I get a handle on the pain and I get some much-needed rest. As always, thanks for your love and support.

With much love,

Friday, July 11, 2008

Back to the hospital again?

'fraid so. Dino's mom brought him to Oakland's Alta Bates Emergency this morning about 3AM with extreme bowel pain from constipation. That's sounds kinda graphic, but there's really no other way to say it. Dino had bumped up his pain meds as per the doctor's orders, but one of the side effects of high doses of Dilaudid pills is constipation. So it's an endless tradeoff - trying to hold the incision pain to a 3 or 4 without going through the roof on pain pills. He asked if I'd do a quick blog to bring everyone up to speed, so I think I'm gonna do a "Just the facts, Ma'am" thing for tonight.

I got there around 11 this morning and he was still in emergency - waiting for admission to a hospital room. When he finally got "officially" checked in around 1:30 to Room 2386 and cranked up the hospital bed to "Dino position", boom . . . off to the bathroom and a long-awaited major sendoff to all the Milk of Magnesia he's ingested over the last several days. What a relief!

The doctors had done an earlier CT scan and were guestimating one of two scenarious: either fluid accumulating in his stomach or possibly tumor growth in his bowel. So they started him on a nasal drain which they eventually removed around six this evening. Still no clear diagnosis, though when I spoke to him awhile ago, he sounded OK (probably because the nurse was about to install the "Sister Mo" pump like he had at Stanford). He said the bowel pain was gone, but the incision pain was still a bit more than he wanted to tolerate. This incision recovery seems to be taking forever.

Mary and I had our first formal meeting with Dino's Alta Bates oncologist yesterday. He hasn't decided on a chemo regimen yet because he wants Dino to be more recovered from the surgery. He said the chemo treatments for this type of sarcoma are pretty rough and Dino needs to get healthy before he begins the program.

So that's the lowdown for tonight. I realize, as all of us go through the changes resulting from Dino's "life-changing" experiences, it's really easy to move in and out of "hospital talk". It's easy to lose focus and forget that the rest of the world is still going round and round out there. For Dino, his focus is the tightest - still pointed unflinchingly at beating this thing - and the same applies to us, even more so. But, nonetheless when he told me this afternoon that he wasn't depressed, I know that's one emotion that will visit him sooner or later. So keep sending your love - he needs it, we all need it.

Dick Scoppettone
Dino's dad

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Brother's Day

"You can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can't pick your friend's nose."
-Ancient Chinese proverb

"You can pick your friends, but you can't pick your family."
-Ancient Chinese proverb

"We need more Calgon."
-Ancient Chinese secret

Forgive me for perhaps paraphrasing the sage words of Confucius, but I feel like at least one of the above quotes is pretty relevant to what I want to talk about today. When you're done reading, I'll let you circle back and figure out which quote pertains most to what's on my mind this afternoon.

Here's something I haven't mentioned as of yet, but it falls into the "insult-to-injury" category: when my dad and I returned from the hospital last Friday, he went to go move my car from its spot in the street in front of my house to put it in the gated back lot. My mom had been staying at my house several days prior to dad coming up to pick me up from the hospital, and she had been parking her own car in the gated lot, so we'd been keeping my car in the street.

Well, my mom went home around Tuesday of that week (the 23rd) and drove her car back to Santa Cruz. When my dad and I got back to my house on Friday the 26th, my passenger window had been smashed in and my car stereo had been stolen. To cap matters, I also got a parking ticket for being on the street during street sweeping hours the day before. Typical.

None of this is my mom's fault; in my drug-induced pain-filled haze in the hospital, reminding her to move the car out of the street-sweeping zone and also take out the stereo (she wasn't ever aware that it had a detachable faceplate) was the furthest thing from my mind. So, oh well, stuff happens.

Actually, the good news is that the insurance deductable is only $100 to replace the window and the stereo, and the estimate will allow me to buy a brand new stereo that has full iPod and Bluetooth support, which the other stereo didn't have. It's almost like I'm sorta coming out ahead on the deal, if you choose to look at it that way. My new stereo will have crystal-clear iPod support for the new iPhone I am going to get get next week.

Back to the point: we moved the car back into the gated lot and have left it sitting there for the last week, with the passenger window smashed in and hundreds of shards of broken glass, papers and other assorted detritus scattered inside the cabin. The thought of cleaning up that huge mess was not something I was relishing; I knew it would have to be done before we took the car in to get repaired, but I have neither the energy or even the physical ability to do such a thing at the moment.

Yesterday afternoon, my brother Nick and his fiancee Amber visited and it was the first time I had seen them since the surgery. It was really great to see them, and we all went and had lunch and then came back to the homestead and hung out, chatted, played some video games, watched TV, and generally enjoyed some quality time together. But at some point during the afternoon, Nick and Amber grabbed a ShopVac, a broom and dustpan, and without making any sort of fuss about it, went out and cleaned the car's interior spotless.

I didn't ask them to do it, nor would I have ever expected it from them, but they did it nonetheless -- and this is one of but many examples of how my brother is stepping up during this difficult time in a completely selfless way to help out however he can. Especially given the own path he's traveled throughout his life, to see such amazing acts of his unconditional loving behavior means the world to me, and I find myself unable to describe precisely how much I admire him for being the special human being he's become.

Nick and I were never close when we were growing up. We are fairly different people with different interests, and the three-and-a-half year age difference meant that we didn't hang out a lot when we were in school. I was always into football, put a decent amount of effort into school, and was pretty good socializing with groups of people; Nick was more introverted, sort of a skate rat, and academics was the furthest thing from his mind.

My high school years passed into college and I'd see him only occasionally, on random trips home, and even then, we didn't have much to talk about. I'd ask him questions, and get a lot of one-syllable answers in return. He didn't seem too interested in what was going on with me, so as a result, I sort of switched myself off and stop trying to reach out to him. We spent the better part of our twenties only seeing each other a few times a year and grunting out cursory salutations on those occasions when we were forced to interact.

Then, shortly after I turned 31, my family got a real bombshell -- Nick had decided to check himself into a drug rehabilitation facility. I'd always known Nick was very involved in doing certain kind of drugs -- pot, mostly, from what my guess was -- but it turns out that was just the tip of iceberg. In the course of his therapy, Nick told us that he had begun smoking pot in his early teens and then graduated to many, many other types of drugs over the next 15 years -- including some very serious stuff. In 2001, he finally hit rock-bottom and decided to do something about it, and began a 12-step program to get himself clean.

(I should note here that I asked Nick today if I could mention his drug addiction on this blog, and he agreed, so I'm not violating his trust here by writing about it.)

That was seven years ago. Since then, he's fallen off the wagon once, maybe twice (I'm not sure, but regardless, it was fairly early on in his rehab), but for the past several years, he's been completely clean -- and he's been a completely different person.

As callous as it sounds, the fact is that the pre-2001 Nick is not someone that I really wanted to associate with. As the aforementioned saying goes, you can pick your friends, but you can't pick your family, and Nick is not someone that I would have ever voluntarily chosen to be one of my family members. I'm sure this is a two-way street and he might be saying the exact same thing about me; my stance towards him back then was very condescending, and I was not very supportive of anything he had to do, acting more like a judgmental nag than anything else.

But that was then, and this is now.

Since becoming clean, Nick has developed into a caring, mature, responsible, intelligent, witty human being. He is someone I genuinely enjoy being around. When the family gathers for dinner back in Santa Cruz, or we get together for a group function of some sort, or he comes to visit me, or whatever the case -- we don't need an excuse, really -- I really look forward to seeing him. He's got a great sense of humor; he's very quick and subversive, and some of the things that come out of his mouth make you think a bit before you realize that he's making a joke on a slightly deeper level than some throw-away silly statement.

Nick has started his own contracting business in Santa Cruz and is trying to drum up business, and I have no doubt that he'll be successful in his endeavour. He's very talented when it comes to construction and has been invaluable in helping my mom remodel parts of her house as she gets ready to put it on the market (when the housing market finally begins to rebound a little bit, hopefully sometime before Spring 2064).

Anyway -- a couple months ago we had Mother's Day, and last month there was Father's Day, but unfortunately there's no such thing as Brother's Day. That's not going to stop me from declaring today Brother's Day and dedicating it to my brother Nick. Ever since he learned of my condition, he's been there at every turn, asking what he can do to help, calling to check in, and he's already make a very major sacrifice in his own life to help facilitate my mom being able to come up and live with me five days a week to take care of me. It's impossible to sum up how that makes me feel.

To me, Nick is living proof that people can and do change, and that things have a way of working out for the better. The evils of addiction cannot adequately be described to those that have never dealt with them -- I fortunately count myself among those lucky people that do not have addictive personalities -- but Nick has battled, he has overcome, and he's become an amazing human being that I am proud to call my brother.

Of course, it would be remiss of me not to mention that a big reason for Nick's growth and transformation is the presence of Amber, an amazing, strong, beautiful woman in her own right. Amber is a single mother of a darling six-year-old, Alex (one of the best-behaved kids I've ever met, and I'm really looking forward to coaching him in football someday), and she's a recovering addict as well. She's extremely strong-willed individual and she has a way of kicking Nick in the butt when he needs it the most. It's not an understatement to say that I think she's the best thing to ever happen to Nick, and I'm looking forward to having her be an official part of the Scoppettone family when they get married next summer.

Nick and Amber are coming back up to visit next Saturday and I'm already looking forward to spending the day with them, just the three of us, with nothing on the agenda. I'm sure we can figure out some sort of trouble to get into between now and then.

That's all for me. Thanks for taking the time to read this particular post; it's very personal, but it needed to be written. Those of you that know my brother but haven't seen him lately should know that he's doing great, and for those of you that have never met him, well, I hope someday you get that privilege. I can pick my friends, but not my family -- but in this case it doesn't matter because Nick is someone I'd choose to have as a friend even if he wasn't a blood relative.

And just so long as I don't have to pick his nose, everything should be just fine.

With much love to Nick and Amber, and to everyone else,

Thursday, July 3, 2008


From first to last, the peak is never passed -- something always fires that light the gets in your eyes

The quote at the top of the page, just below the title of this blog, is a lyric from a song called "Marathon" by the band Rush. I chose it specifically because from the beginning, I knew this entire journey would be a long one, not a quick sprint. There are some serious illnesses that can be addressed in short order such that the body is back to full health within a matter of days or a few weeks, but the Big C usually doesn't operate that way.

In terms of an actual physical marathon -- the 26.2 mile run undertaken typically only by Greeks or sadists -- well, I've never run one of those. Never even come close, actually; I think the longest I've ever run at one time is about five miles, if that. Running has never really been my thing, but I have lots of friends that love to do it, and while it's hard for me to understand their passion, I do admire them greatly for it.

Now, it appears that a real honest-to-goodness marathon will be part of my journey. It won't be me running it, of course -- I've got a few other things to deal with for the next several months, not to mention the fact that I can barely walk straight as it is, much less run -- but rather a very good friend of mine who will be running the Silicon Valley Marathon in October in my honor. Andi Love, someone I've known for almost 20 years, is one of my dearest friends and she recently signed up for the marathon, and hopes to use her own journey as a focal point to raise money to help cover some of my medical costs.

Andi is 36, a happily-married mother of two that now lives in Seattle, but like me, she grew up in the Santa Cruz area. We didn't go to the same high school -- she went to snooty Aptos while I matriculated at the far more down-to-earth Santa Cruz High -- but we met through mutual friends just after I graduated from high school. We hit it off instantly and two decades later, we remain extremely close.

She's neither Greek nor a sadist (so far as I know), but still, she's run at least one marathon in the past so she's been down this road before (pun intended). That doesn't make the training and the race a whole lot easier, but at least she knows what to expect. As of yesterday, she's started her own blog at to document her training and to discuss the various aspects of the fundraising. I encourage you to check it out on a regular basis so you can see how things are coming along. She's also started posting comments to my blog under the name "Team Dino," so when you see those comments, you'll know it's her.

I've received so much support from you all already -- gifts, cards, loving thoughts, emails, letters, you name it. Your generosity is truly overwhelming and without question, it has lifted me up and carried me through some not-so-pleasant spots, and will continue to do so. I know that some of you have inquired as to how to assist with any exorbitant medical bills (really, are there any other kind?) and so I would suggest that you get in touch with Andi for more on that -- you can contact her through her blog.

Well, it's almost the 4th and the weather here is gorgeous -- I hope that everyone will get to enjoy some much deserved time-off for a three-day weekend. Whether you're spending that time on the couch (like me) or training for a long run (like Andi) or on the beach or in the mountains, make sure to viva la vida -- and throw down a beer for me if you get the chance. It's been a while since I've had one!

With much love,

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Same Old Same Old

Hi all,

I've got a little window here where the pain is minimal so I'm gonna jump back on the blog and catch you up with what's going on with me. The short story is: not much. I haven't gone anywhere in the last four days; instead, my days and nights are a constant cycle of resting, sleeping, playing video games, reading on my Kindle, watching TV, and above all, trying to stave off the pain from the surgery.

It's been just over three weeks since the procedure and the pain from the incisions is still quite noticeable. It's hard for me to say there's been any substantial improvement -- there are periods where I almost don't hurt at all, but there are other times where I have to sit and breathe deeply just to mentally control a flare-up of pain. There doesn't seem to be a real obvious pattern regarding when the pain comes and when it goes, but then again, I'm hardly ever completely lucid, so it's difficult to say.

Yes, I'm continuing on the drug regimen prescribed by the docs at Alta Bates. This includes two Methadone pills a day, a smattering of dilaudid, and a pain patch that goes on my arm and gets replaced every three days. You'd think that with such a barrage of medication, I wouldn't feel a thing, but alas, the pain still finds ways to creep through. At the same time, the meds leave me in a fairly continual groggy state in which I'm constantly riding the line between being asleep and awake, and at night I am prone to talking out loud in my bedroom while I am in this half-asleep state of dozing, holding conversations with people that aren't actually there. Funny thing is, I'm usually aware of when I'm talking out loud in this 'dozing' state, but I still do it anyway. Just a really strange side effect of this medical mixture, I suppose.

Out of curiosity, anyone else out there have extensive experience with pain meds? Did you have any crazy side effects? I'd love to hear any stories from our devoted readers regarding their experiences during rest and recuperation.

Friday is the 4th and many people I know are heading out for a holiday. My dad's birthday is on the 5th and I'll spend some of the day with him, and we might go outdoors somewhere (as in, stepping outside the doors of my home for a few hours), but otherwise, I have no set plans for going out and about, and I'm certainly not going out of town for the weekend. Had this whole cancer nuisance never popped up, I'd be in Hawaii right now, celebrating the marriage of my good friends Priscilla and Dave. I'm really sad I can't be there for their big day, but I know they understand, and I'm sure everyone's having a blast out on the islands. I'll tip back a fruit smoothie in their honor -- congrats, you two, and my very best goes out to you from the mainland. I'm there with you in spirit, without question.

Well, if you dart off for a long weekend, have a great holiday. I'll try to check back in the next few days with some more creative stuff (rather than a post like this one, which is solely "here's what I did the last couple days"), and until then, I hope everyone enjoys their time off. Also try to remember what the holiday is all about, if only for a moment: one great way to do this is to check out the HBO miniseries John Adams. It really brings home the story of America's struggle for independence, and the actors playing our founding fathers really nailed the roles (and I can say this with authority because, of course, I witnessed the real events back in 1776). Rent it on DVD if you're looking for something to do.

Happy 4th of July, everyone...

With much love,

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Home (Again)

Hi all,

It's almost noon on Saturday and I'm back at Dino HQ, working on the home desktop and, all things considered, feeling pretty good.

I checked out of the hospital yesterday afternoon and was given a variety of medications to help control my pain. So far, I have no complaints -- there is the usual stomach discomfort from the incisions, but nothing is too overbearing, and my home bed and all its attendant pillows were quite a bit more comfortable than the hospital bed.

Last night I turned the lights out at 9 PM, and dragged myself out of bed at 8:30 this morning. No, I didn't sleep soundly the entire time -- there was lots of intermittent dozing, occasional forays to the bathroom, and periods of trying to find a real comfortable sleeping position -- but overall, it was far more rest than I've had in the last week. I expect that to get better on a nightly basis as the pain subsides and I get used to being in the home environment.

As I wrote last week when I came home from the hospital the first time around, there is definitely a culture shock in moving from the hospital to home, especially when you factor in the drugs I'm taking and some of their side effects (in this case, general drowsiness and a decrease in lucidity). After a week of constant interruptions day and night, you come to expect these sorts of things and when they don't happen, as was the case last night, the groggy mind tends to ask itself "wait a sec -- how come nobody's busted into my room in the last hour to check my pulse?" Like everything else associated with my recovery, this too shall pass.

This morning I brushed my teeth and shaved my face clean. My head of hair is far too long now, especially given how thin my face has become, and I'm going to have my mom give me a severe haircut tomorrow when she comes back up. (Back in the day, when bowl cuts were all the rage, she used to cut my hair on a regular basis. That ended around 1984, when I finally figured out that it wasn't 1975 anymore.) Once chemo begins, I'm going to shave my pate completely clean anyway, but for the next few weeks, I at least want to keep it in check so that it's not spazzing out all over the place.

Aside from that, I'm gonna rest and relax for the duration of the weekend. The pain meds are still leaving me drowsy and a little bit out of it at times, so I'm not sure about visitors quite yet, but when next week starts and I have a bit more energy, I can probably host a few people here and there for short periods of time... we'll see.

That's about it for right now. I'm off to read on my sweet new Amazon Kindle, maybe play a video game or something, and work in a nap (or several). I hope everyone enjoys their weekend -- get on outside if you haven't been there already today!

With much love,

Thursday, June 26, 2008

No Rest For The Weary

Sorry about the lack of posting but I've been a bit out of it the last two days as the Alta Bates doctors have struggled to come up with an adequate level of medication for my pain -- either it's too much or too little, but it's been tough finding that "sweet spot."

For the most part, the various medications I'm on are doing a decent job of dulling the pain, but it's still there. I'm not sure if it's ever going to completely go away until I'm healed, though, so maybe it's supposed to sort of always be there. Life tends to be best just after I get a shot of dilaudid, but when that wears off, the pain comes back.

Yesterday my pain doc upped both the available frequency and the dosage of dilaudid in pill form, so in my eagerness to control the pain, I had a shot and three pills at 11 AM and then again at 1 PM. Shortly thereafter, I was a groggy mess -- definitely too much medication. Whoops. I gave it several hours before taking anything again so I could get my mind and body back under control.

So, here it is Thursday mid-day and I've received several texts and emails asking if I'm okay, since the blog has been out of commission. Thanks for the concern -- I'm here and I'm fine, and in the "Best News of the Day" Dept., it looks like they are going to send me home tomorrow with two new pain med prescriptions. The thought of my own bed and some unimpeded rest is tantalizing.

See, as I've written before, hospitals are not a place for people to actually sleep. There are a variety of reasons for this; for me personally, one is that since I've been here at Alta Bates, I've been on constant IV drip nutrients. The good side of this is that I've gained a little weight -- you can see it in my face and feel it in my gut. The downside is twofold: a) it suppresses my appetite (so I haven't eaten much since I've been here) -- but more importantly 2) it keeps me constantly hydrated and constantly having to relieve myself. We're talking multiple times an hour here. Ergo, do the math: it's impossible for me to sleep for any large stretches of time because I'm continually needing to go wee-wee!

(Sorry for the above terminology, but we had to change the original description since this is a family blog. --Ed)

And remember how earlier in the week, I said that the nurses here were far less intrusive than they were at Stanford? Well, scratch that. Bottom line is that, during business hours (5 AM to around 11 PM), most hospitals are probably pretty much the same in terms of how often they will disturb a patient for any number of things. If you can grab some sleep in the off-hours (which, thanks to the aforementioned IV drip, I really can't), then all power to you -- but from before sunup until after sundown, there will be any number of nurses, nursing assistants, doctors, surgeons, clinicians, dietitians, service volunteers, custodians, specialists, and the like who will come and go as they please, performing their various tasks both in your room and on your body, guaranteeing that you will not sniff an ounce of undisturbed rest for the vast majority of your day.

It's not that I don't think these people are unnecessary or that I don't appreciate them; everyone's got a job to do and for the most part, all the pieces fit together to move the patient forward to the point where they can go home. It's just that at certain points, the timing of the whole thing is actually comical -- for instance, I'll get a pain shot that leaves me sleepy and relatively pain-free, and all I want to do is catch some shut-eye. Then, over the course of the next 90 minutes, I will get the two-cursory-door-knocks-and-then-enter routine from:

* An assistant who needs to take my vitals;
* A surgeon who wants to check my stomach to see if the scar is healing;
* A custodian who is swapping out the garbage bags;
* A clinician making her rounds, who wants to talk about medications I'm taking;
* A nurse, who checks in to see if I need anything;
* A dietitian, who wants to get my food selections for tomorrow;
* Another dietitian, who wants to talk about my appetite;
* Another doctor making the rounds that wants to see if my scar is healing;

and so on.

(I can't tell you how many people each day check my scar to see if it's healing correctly. I expect they'll be holding some sort of public symposium on it before long.)

These people tend to arrive at intervals ranging from 7-15 minutes apart from each other; before long, the 90-minute window of relatively pain-free sleep opportunity has closed, and now it's lather, rinse, repeat until the lights go out late at night, the hustle and bustle shuts down, there is a more definitive chance to get some real sleep... and I keep going wee-wee three times an hour through the night.

So. That having been said, as you can see, I'm really, really tired at this point -- but the fact is, until I get home, I'll just have to live with being really, really tired. And yes, I know it's all part of the process of getting better, but the simple act of sleeping is really integral to that process as well, and it's cruelly ironic that a hospital is one of the worst places for a sleep-deprived person to be.

Ah well. Like I said, everyone's got a role to play and I appreciate that. The people here have been good to me, and it's just another step in a long healing process -- and there'll still be a long ways to go on this journey once I get home. My parents had a consultation with Dr. Jacobs at Stanford yesterday to discuss the upcoming chemo plan, and we'll have a similar meeting with Dr. Checci here at Alta Bates probably sometime next week, since I'll likely be doing my chemo here. But mentally, that's not even on my radar at the moment; all I want to do for the next few days is just get some rest, if possible. If the pain comes back strong, we'll figure out a way to deal with it. Otherwise, I likely won't start chemo for a few weeks and therefore don't want to think much about it for the next several days.

You know, of course, that in the 30 minutes that it's taken me to write this post, not one person has come into my room. Let's see what happens once I log off and crawl back into bed!

I'll check in tomorrow once I'm back at the homestead and have caught up on some Z's. Until then, thanks as always for your never-ending love, prayers, thoughts and concern. Enjoy the rest of your Thursday and I'll talk atcha soon.

With much love,

Monday, June 23, 2008

TV Or Not TV

And now, some thoughts on the amazing putridity that is TV.

Having spent close to three full weeks in the hospital over the past month, I've had ample opportunity to watch more than my fair share of television during this time. Frankly, there's not much else to do besides read, and I've done some of that as well, but since I've been on painkilling drugs that alter my lucidity much of the time, watching TV is the easiest and most brainless pastime there is at the moment.

Despite the presence of my 50" high-def TV at home, I actually don't watch that much TV in my free time (this whole hospital thing excluded, of course), so while I was vaguely aware of the pathetic state of the boob tube, I had no idea as to the extent of just how ridiculous the whole thing really is. From the programming to the commercials, it's hard to accurately summarize in words just how much complete crap there is on TV, but I'm in a saucy mood, so I'll give it a go.

First off, put yourself in my shoes for a moment. You're facing a life-threatening disease and while you have all confidence that you'll win the battle and enjoy a long and prosperous life, you need to always keep your mind focused on positive thoughts and concepts. Meanwhile, you're receiving a constant flow of painkilling drugs that slightly alters your perception of what you see and hear, amplifying the extremes of the emotional spectrum. Ergo, the highs get higher and the lows get lower, and anything with a negative connotation has a more severe effect than usual.

Now that you know a bit more about where I'm coming from, here's what I've learned by watching the 20ish available channels (ESPN not being among them) here at Alta Bates over the last three days, as well as the 25ish channels I had at Stanford before that:

* Over two million customers have switched their phone service to Vonage. I know this because a smug woman tells me so in the same commercial three times an hour, regardless of which channel I happen to be on. Discovery Channel, Food Network, whatever -- the same commercial airs all day, every day, everywhere.

* Apparently Hulk Hogan is really important at the moment, because every time I flipped through Headline News when I was at Stanford, he was on the TV. I have no idea why he's important because I refuse to stop and read the headlines regarding him, but from what I can gather, the world is revolving around Hulk Hogan at present time.

* I can't stop on CNN for too long because 90% of the stories deal with gas prices, the energy crisis, some sort of murder or death or mayhem, or other news that doesn't exactly feed a positive mindset.

* Invariably, network programming presents the same dilemma, unless I happen to stumble upon a comedy. I can't watch any drama shows because half the time there's someone getting killed or the story revolves around someone with a disease, and again, this is not the sort of stuff my mind needs to be focusing on at present time.

* I can always go to the History Channel for a little non-fiction fix, but last night they were running a series called Ice Road Truckers or some such thing. Are you kidding me? What happened to the "History" part of the "History Channel"? And why would I care about ice road truckers? What's next -- they gonna do a show about how deadly it is to fish in open waters?

* The TNTs, TBSs, and USAs of the world have completely given up when it comes to weekend programming. Yesterday I checked these networks several times over the course of the day and I kid you not, these channels were repeating the same movies all weekend. One of the channels showed Spider-Man on both Saturday and Sunday; another channel alternated between Iron Eagle and A Knight's Tale all day yesterday. So let me get this straight -- if I missed that all-important showing of Iron Eagle (a really crap movie from 1986, for what it's worth) at 11 AM, I can still catch repeats at 3 PM and 7 PM? Great, thanks a ton.

I mean, come on, at least try and mix things up a little, would ya?

* Along the same vein, last night A&E was alternating between hour-long blocks of The Two Coreys and Gene Simmons Family Jewels. Setting aside for a moment the fact that these two shows even exist in the first place, whatever happened to the network that brought us Biography? Now that was a show that was often worth watching.

* Apparently pharmaceutical companies have developed quick-and-easy solutions to just about every medical condition out there (except my own), because ads for drugs simply cannot be avoided. It's such a pleasure to be watching a comedy or something, have the show cut to an ad break, and hear a narrator say something like "If you have Type 2 diabetes, then we've got the answer for you..." or something similar. Makes it real easy for me to keep my mind off my own particular medical condition.

So, to sum up: I can't watch the news because it's too depressing, I can't watch network programming because it's too dramatic, I refuse to watch reality TV because it's all crap, and even the commercials are a detriment to my mindset. Therefore, I've been reduced to looking for Seinfeld reruns or even scraping the bottom of the barrel and watching old episodes of Home Improvement (a show that I used to enjoy back in the day, but can now watch for many consecutive hours without laughing once).

Ah well, thus endeth my rant. Thankfully my mom is dropping by to bring me my new Amazon Kindle, which a friend so graciously bought for me, so I'll give that a go and maybe try to do some more reading. I'm sure I'll do some more channel surfing this evening, but I've developed a pretty quick trigger finger for the on/off switch when I find there's nothing even remotely worth looking at (which is typically the case).

Still haven't talked to a doctor yet today, so I'm not sure of how long I'll be here, but as always, I'll keep y'all posted when I find out something new. I'm going to get up and walk around and get a little exercise now before the next pain shot arrives in a half-hour or so... and then maybe I'll look for a repeat of Friends to send me into a quick catnap.

With much love,

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Lazy Sunday

Hi all,

It's Sunday afternoon and I'm looking out at the Oakland hills from my hospital room at Alta Bates, awaiting a shot of dilaudid (a stronger form of Sister Mo) that will be coming my way in about 10 minutes.

I've been here since early Friday morning, when I went to the ER for pain control. The pain pills I had at home simply were not doing the job and I woke up just after midnight on Friday in pretty good pain. They checked me into the hospital in order to get me on a pain control protocol, so for the past three days, I've been on a combo of dilaudid shots, pills and now a patch attached to my skin that will gradually help get the pain under control in the next few days.

I'm not thrilled to be here, but aside from the absolute suckiness of the TV (unbelievably, they don't get ESPN, so I missed today's Italy-Spain soccer game -- although from everything I've read, I actually didn't miss much, as it was a dull game and Italy deserved to lose), things aren't that bad. I have my own room, the setup is reasonably comfortable, the view is nice, and most importantly, my stomach pain is being handled in a way that simply would be impossible if I was back at home. The fact is, the pain isn't excruciating, but it's bad enough that it needs more direct attention (as in, through direct injection) than I could get at home.

Also, while all my vitals are great, my white-cell count is running just a tad high, so they have me on antibiotics just in case I have a minor infection somewhere. From what I've been told, both the pain issue (obviously!) and the infection issue are not uncommon after major surgeries, so at the moment, the situation is not a cause for worry -- it's just an annoyance more than anything else.

So, it's been a long, lazy weekend and the doctors will re-assess my situation tomorrow. The initial guess from the on-call doc today was that it will be at least two or three days before I head home, so I can expect to be here until Tuesday if not later. If I was still sharing a room with someone at Stanford, this news would be very discouraging -- but the nurses here are far less intrusive (since they don't need to keep me under constant observation) and I'm not constantly being disturbed for pills and shots and other continual interruptions that keep a hospital patient from actually, you know, resting. Plus, the private room makes this stay a lot easier to bear, so I can deal with a few extra days in the hospital if it means keeping the pain to a minimum.

That's the scoop! I hope everyone had a great weekend and I'll check back tomorrow with the latest. Now it's time for another dilaudid shot and maybe a nap. Come to think of it, maybe this whole surgery thing ain't so bad after all...

With much love,

Friday, June 20, 2008

A Friday Bump in the Road

Back in the hospital for Dino after a lousy night. Early this morning, his mother took him to the emergency room at Alta Bates in Oakland after he woke up (for the second night in a row) with a severe pain in his right side. They did a CT scan and blood test and, at the very least, want to keep him overnight. The blood work showed a minimal possibility of pancreatitis (for which they can give him an antibiotic, but they aren't doing so yet) and the scan showed a small amount of water on the outside of his right lung (typical of this type of surgery and possibly the cause of the pain).

At any rate, while he's not happy to be back in the hospital, he is happy that he's got Sister Mo again. His level of pain is more or less consistently around a "3", so it's not terribly elevated, but he told me he was frustrated, which we can all understand. He continues, of course, to keep the faith (hasn't let down one iota in that area), so let's see if this thing will settle down and we can get him back home tomorrow or Sunday. Can't tell if it's just a bump in the road - maybe this is a somewhat typical post-op response? As usual, we luv ya for all your good thoughts - our man is powering on.

Dick Scoppettone
(Dino's dad)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Ultimate Weight-Loss Program

Hi all,

It's Wednesday afternoon and I'm biding my time until I get to take my next painkiller pill. The pain isn't overly brutal but it's noticeable and unless I can find the right position in which to sit or lie down, it's constantly there. I get to take a pill every four hours and right now there's about 30 minutes to go before the next one might bring some relief for a while.

So I'm mostly settled in at home and mom is out running a few errands. I did get some sleep last night -- not the whole night by any stretch, but short patches here and there, and that whole process will get easier as time goes on. This morning, I washed my arms and legs -- there's still a lot of tape residue on my arms and my mom is going to grab some baby oil as suggested by Francesca in the comments to my last post -- washed my hair, brushed the teeth and shaved. Then I stood back for a good look in the mirror.

The face and body staring back are very unfamiliar. I've lost a ton of weight and my face is now very gaunt and (I never thought I would ever say this!) far too thin. Someone posted a picture of me on Facebook from when I wasn't too far from weighing 200 pounds and my face was really chubby, with chipmunk cheeks -- well, that was 40 pounds ago. My cheekbones really stand out now, and I almost feel like my eyes are bugging out of my head.

It's very odd to look at myself like this and I'm looking forward to the return of my appetite and the process of putting on some pounds (which are going to come right back off once chemo starts), but right now, I'm struggling to eat a lot of food. I know that this, too, shall pass, and once again the bells will ring in the town squares and the criers will joyously sing to the masses "Yea, verily, he returneth again to the Tacoe Belle for the fifth time this week!"

As for my body, well, it's a mess. Since reaching adulthood, I've gone through phases where I could reasonably be described as "stocky," "chubby," "packing a few extra pounds," and "boy howdy, try mixing in a salad every now and then, man!" Now? Now, I can actually feel the bones on my backside when I sit on anything that's not cushioned. Now, I can probably fit into a pair of size 30 jeans (although I won't be wearing jeans anytime soon -- it's pajama bottoms for me for the next week at least). Now, my arms look frail and my legs look thin.

Looking specifically at my stomach is probably the toughest thing for me to do without cringing. There's a huge blue scar that begins at my waist, runs vertically up through the belly button to the middle of my stomach, makes a 90-degree turn to the right side of my body, and then does another right-angle turn straight up to under my right armpit. Loretta wrote me that her and Tommy's boy T.L., who had open-heart surgery a few weeks ago, wants to compare his scar with mine; sorry, T.L., I think I'm winning this one in a walk.

I know that all this is going to get better and it's only a matter of time and rehabilitation; still, looking at the entire situation -- the sallow face, the frail body, the horribly-scarred stomach -- is still a bit shocking for me and I'm not entirely comfortable with it at the moment. That will come later, I know, and after the entire treatment regimen is over, I'll gain some permanent weight -- maybe not back to the 180s, hopefully, but I'll move out of the 150s. But that's down the line and right now, I just have to accept that it is what it is.

Anyway, that's the not-so-pretty update for today. Sorry to be so graphic, but this blog is all about the ups and downs of the entire journey, and while being home is a major "up," dealing with this incredible overnight bodily change is a huge "down" at the moment.

A few people have inquired about visiting and I would say that we should hold out until Friday and then see how I'm feeling. Right now I just need to rest, relax, and eat. Hopefully this weekend I'll have made enough progress to welcome a few visitors into the home; let's see how things go for the next 48 hours.

Okey doke -- it's almost time for the magic pain pill! Time to lie down in bed and let the rush of the pain medication sweep me into dreamland. As I get more energy in the next day, I expect to start responding to all the email messages you've all sent in the last two weeks, so you should be hearing from me directly in the next several days. Thanks again for all the great support...

And on that note, I will leave you with a very emotional moment I had today.

For the last two weeks I have been trapped in the hospital and in my own head, countless thoughts flowing through days and nights of a drug-induced and sleep-deprived groggy existence. Quite often during this period, I would find certain songs making their way into my brain and replaying over and over. One of these songs was a 30-second snippet of a new Coldplay tune, Viva La Vida, that plays on an over-exposed iTunes TV commercial. For two weeks, I often replayed that snippet in my head, even though I hadn't yet heard the full song.

Today a friend got me an iTunes gift certificate so I could download the latest Coldplay album, which was released yesterday. This morning, I downloaded the album, sat back, and clicked on the full track of the song Viva La Vida -- and as its pulsating, uplifting beat kicked in and I reflected on the entirety of my hospital stay, I began sobbing with tears of pain and joy and thankfulness and unbridled gratitude at the amazing group of family and friends I have around me, holding my hands and walking me down this road. My tears lasted the length of this amazingly beautiful song and when it was over, I felt a great sense of relief. I'm going to make it through this -- we all will.

Live the life, indeed.

With much love,

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Viva La Vida

What a glorious day. The Italians made it through to the knockout rounds of the European soccer tournament by beating France 2-0 (and all thanks to the Dutch, who beat Romania to uphold their end of the deal). Meanwhile, Coldplay released its new album today, and I'm anxious to go pick it up.

And, oh yeah -- I'm home.

All the tubes, wires and IVs are out of my body. There's just a couple bandages remaining, and those I can take off in a day or two. Now, I really need to wash my hair and get all the tape and bandage residue off both my arms -- I'll get to that later this evening. For the moment, I'm relaxing in relative peace and quiet. It's a bit of a system shock, to be honest, after 13 days of the unending hustle and bustle of the hospital.

It's great to be home. I'll write more tomorrow when I'm more settled. Until then, Viva La Vida, Forza Azzurri, and all that good stuff.

With much love,

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Week Later

Hi all,

It's now been a week since the surgery, and I've just had my best day yet. The pain is reasonably under control most of the time, my bodily functions appear to be returning to normal (although I'm having to pull a #1 all the time, which is completely normal, as my body is purging fluids that had built up through all the IV activity), and while I'm still tired, I think that's more a function of being in a hospital.

This morning, they started me on a solid diet. No chalupas just yet, but I've picked my way through a couple meals so far as I begin to build up an appetite.

And then, this afternoon, my docs made the rounds, considered my progress, and said that there's a good chance I can go home tomorrow.

Ultimately, I would guess that unless there's a deal-breaker (some sort of random fever or infection or other bodily issue that's askew), I'll be heading back up to the Oaktown tomorrow afternoon -- not a moment too soon.

I'm going to try to not get too excited for now, but if this is my last night down here (at least until chemo starts), then I'm all for it. I got a lot of sleep last night as I had no roommate for the evening, but they moved someone else in as my neighbor this afternoon and while he doesn't sound very vocal or in too much pain (so far), the comfort of my own room, own bed and an 8-hour night of uninterrupted sleep is at the fore of my mind.

So -- that's the latest. I'm gonna head back now, eat dinner and watch some TV. I'll let you know if tomorrow is indeed check-out day as soon as I know -- although given the speed at which some things move around here in terms of admissions and discharges, I could very well be at my home computer before getting the chance to update the blog.

I hope everyone is well and send your positive thoughts and prayers that tonight is indeed my last night in the hospital!

With much love,

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day!

Hi all,

I just meandered down to the computers from my room. About an hour ago, they capped my IV (while still leaving it in my arm in order to dispense various medications), which means I don't have to drag the big IV module around with me everywhere. This means that I'm a lot more mobile now, which is good, because my bodily functions are waking back up and challenging me to get to certain places (like the restroom) within a certain amount of time. This is what we call the "not fun part of recovery."

Actually, pretty much the whole shebang falls under the "not fun part of recovery" header, but I'll get more into depth on that whole thing as more of my energy returns. In fact, if I find something that could be described as "the fun part of recovery," I'll let you know immediately. Don't hold your breath waiting for that, though.

Sadly, the fact that I no longer have my trusty IV module to dispense fluids and meds means that I have to bid adieu to my constant companion, Sister Mo. If my pain gets bad enough, they can still dispense the Good Sister directly into my IV (like they did during the first day of my hospitalization, pre-surgery), but the wonderful 'pain button' and the instant dispensation of medication is gone. I'll be on pills moving forward unless there is an acute attack of pain. Or unless I fake an acute attack of pain... not that I would do that.

Blessedly, things really aren't that bad. Yes, there is a constant dull pain in my stomach where the surgery was, but many times, I find myself feeling only a minimal amount of discomfort. Any physical activity exacerbates the issue, but I'll just have to deal with that moving forward as part of my physical rehab. Otherwise, my body is beginning to feel more and more 'normal' as it takes less and less effort to do the things we always take for granted (getting into and out of bed, moving around in bed, walking, sitting up, etc.). Still a long ways to go, but there's a marked difference between today and, say, Wednesday.

The schedule is light today and I'm going to spend most of the day resting. It's Father's Day and I want to send a Happy Father's Day wish to all the dads out there, especially my own pops, who is playing golf with my brother Nick today. I hope everyone is able to enjoy the balance of the weekend and get out into the nice weather; I had a couple visitors yesterday and they wheeled me out into the sun for a little while as we sat in a garden courtyard here and chatted for a spell. First time I've been outside since the surgery, and it felt great.

I have no timetable on when I will be released but based on the speed at which they keep removing various tubes and wires, and changing the aspects of my diet, I would guess Wednesday or even Tuesday might be about right. I could be way off on that, but pretty soon they won't have too much reason to keep me around here any longer. I'm really looking forward to getting home and sleeping a full night in my own bed without the constant distractions that happen in a hospital. My roommate, a fellow coming off a kidney transfer in his own battle against cancer, is checking out today; I wish him the very best, but his departure should provide some much-needed peace and quiet, as he's had some very loud physical and bodily struggles from his side of the curtain. Of course, this could be a double-edged sword and they could check someone else that's louder into the room right away -- I guess we'll see. Not gonna worry about it.

Okay, I'm headed back to bed for a while. Thanks again for all the messages and support; it's getting me through all the rough patches and pretty quickly here, this hospital visit will be a thing of the past. Enjoy the rest of the weekend and I'll check back atcha tomorrow, assuming I have the time...

With much love as always,