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,


smrose said...

See this? Thresher shark...

Looney said...

Live the life, baby. It will get better...

Barry said...

Hey man, scars need help to go away, so have your mom pick you up some vitamin E oil, and rub it on the scars daily when you can stand it. It will dramatically reduce them.

Live the life is a great new mantra!

Mary and Jim Love said...

Hi Dino:
So glad to hear your home and the healing has begun. I know it must have been wonderful just to sleep in your own bed and be able to get some real rest.
Enjoy the care your mom gives you, I know she is so happy to be there to do it. Scars heal, appetite and strength come back, it just takes time.
Hope we are able to see your svelte self soon.

Love and many good thoughts,

Mary Love

LynnAJ said...

why is it that i am mostly left speechless after reading your blog, Dino?
Man, you are REALLY in it - full on, living life, grabbing it by the tail and going for it.
thanks for sharing everything so eloquently. it's a real adventure reading along (the easy part) as you take one step at a time (the most challenging part - you are doing the work, taking no short cuts -- bravo).
you GO, Dino!!
still krazy in Kenwood and with love,
Lynn (and Corey from Houston) xxxx

Francesca Giessmann said...

I have many comments about this post and I thought of writing an email off line but I agree that this blog is for the good, bad and ugly and all that there is in between.

First I hope the baby oil helps... you may have to rub it a bit ... last resource is nail polish remover ... Gosh I wish I did not know these tricks...

I too, remember well the 1st time I stared at the mirror ... But you see... I was also someone with a few extra pounds... my husband called me Boudacious... my Mom called me chubby... then came the night that I was rushed to the ER due to a stomach pain ...and I only left that hospital 15 days later.. I had lost 15 pounds , had shaved my waist long black hair and had had one chemo cycle already....and was told that I had stage 4 cancer.. I was like : WHOOOAAAAATTTT????? ... I had these raccoon eyes of shock.... I WAS the picture of good health before and had ZERO symptons...

Anyway. .I actually thought I looked good and my sweet Dad told me I looked like Demi Moore in that army movie ( riiiiiiggghhht! he was just trying to lift my spirits).... But with all the chemo ( 12 cycles) .. I only got sick ( threw up) twice and I bet it was some bug and not the chemo... I then gained 25 , yup twenty five , pounds from the steroids that kept me going... and then one day I looked at the mirror and REALLY did not recognize myself... I had no hair, eyebrow, or eye lashes... I looked like an egg.. a macys float egg.... and for a girl that was tough.... Why am I saying all this???? Because all this should be just a passage... here I am , back to my "baudacious " ( or chubby???) weight.... so much black hair that I dont know what to do with it.. .and still ctaching myself in the mirror and finding a changed person.. .

My friend: Keep your head high! Cry when you need to! Laugh as often as you can! hear loud out music ... kiss your loved ones... tell people to back off when u need to!
Keep the eyes on the prize!
What doesn't Kill us... makes us stronger! .. I am changed.. different..scared... at times mad and afraid... but I am stronger!!!!
sorry this got so long... thinking of you ... a big big kiss all the way from the Alps...
much love and know that we.. .cancer sisters and brothers.. walk this walk side by side,...

Anonymous said...

I still think you're sexy Dino. In fact, GET IN MY BELLY!

- New Guy Steve

Loretta said...

TL wanted me to tell you that as time goes by, the scar is not as "cool" as it initially is...once the scabs come off, it's not nearly as dramatic. ;-D

Our hearts go out to you as you settle back into life at home and gear up to continue the big fight.

Rose has inspired me to try to think of funny Airplane things to say to you, but I am horrible at quoting movies. So, I guess I can just thank him for inspiring me to remember funny parts of the movie that put a smile on my face...

"I speak jive"..."jiggling jello boobs"...line of people beating the crazy woman on the plane...stewardess singing to the girl with the IV in her arm (but I can't remember the lyrics...)...the disco dance of course..."it's a twister! it's a twister!"...blow-up doll with stryker's girl...ethel merman guy....the white zone fight...don't call me surely...eggs & bird coming out of lady's mouth...

OK, see? Soooo not funny when it's written like this. I'll work on it & get back to you. :-D


Ross said...

Airplane quotes! WOOT!

"See a broad and booty-yakum, lay em down smakem-jakem!"

(Translation: Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise. Get your rest, D.)

JNev said...


Welcome Home! Quite the journey you've had so far and although it isn't over it will be one that changes your life, forever! The scars, although they may never go away, will be a reminder of how you survived and never gave up. They just add to your already stellar character as a human being.

PS. Maybe Coach Mehuron or Miguel can put you on a weight training program!

Peace and Love,


Tom said...


A few comments:

- People you haven't seen for almost 20 years (like me) are moved by your blog, encouraged by your blend of optimism and pragmatism, and wish you the F-ing best.
- You have a much better voice as a writer now than when you covering women's gymnastics or whatever for the Daily Nexus.
- I have been living with a skinny, bony ass all my life. Now you can finally appreciate how thankful I am for the invention of cushioned chairs.

I will keep you in my thoughts and will follow your progress via your posts.

Tom Nelson

Anonymous said...

Great to see you home, D. We need a QB here for the start of SEGA's flag football season, so we'll keep a spot on the roster open for ya. 150 some-odd pounds?!?!? I think I weighed 150 in 3rd grade...;-)

All the best, my friend!!!! I miss our mug-fests during the numerous meetings here.

Anonymous said...

Great to see you home, D. We need a QB here for the start of SEGA's flag football season, so we'll keep a spot on the roster open for ya. 150 some-odd pounds?!?!? I think I weighed 150 in 3rd grade...;-)

All the best, my friend!!!! I miss our mug-fests during the numerous meetings here.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I am "Comment Challeged" today....ugh....;-)

Anonymous said...

...and "Spelling Challenged" as well!

Priscilla said...

Hey D,
Sorry about this difficult time in the mirror for you- but thanks for sharing all of it! I hope it helps to get it out...cathartic, yes?... and good for us all to know how you feel - day by day, moment by we can help support you any way you need it. Hang in there, and feel whatever you need to feel - we are all here for you and feeling it right along with you! Only we may be able to see the beauty in the scar before you, in that we are so grateful you are here with us, and seeing it as a sign that you removed the kuatmonster! Live the life - I love it!! XXXOOO, P&D

Lisa said...

Hey you Dino, thinking of you all the time!

Much love!

DZARCH said...

Rock on Bro - Miles asked me how you were doing yesterday. I told him you were the strongest guy I knew and that you are on your way to getting better. Soon you will be living the Vida Loca Boooolivian style.


Chris said...

A scar us a story and while yours is a raw and painful one today, over time it will heal and fade, still serving as a reminder of trials past, but mostly as a way to pick up chicks. Did someone say "bear attack?"

Marjorie said...

Dino, I am so glad to hear that you are home now. I get people coming up to me here at work every day checking in to see how you are doing. We all miss you and love you. Keep your chin up - it's only going to get better from here.

As far as the weight thing goes, once you start feeling up to it, all you need is a weekend with me and my cooking and you'll be back on track to gaining some of those pounds! ;)