Life with Hodgkin Lymphoma

This Fall life changed suddenly for me. Of course, I like everyone else, have been dealing with what COVID-19 wrought on us. On October 23rd, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma and learned that 2020 was not quite done with me.

Big waves at Piedras Blancas

An overnight hospital stay with x-rays, a CT Scan, biopsies, and a thoracentesis to relieve a pleural effusion were my introduction to my new life. Blood tests, a panic attack inducing PET Scan, two more thoracenteses, 12 more chest x-rays, another CT Scan, a pulmonary function test, minor surgery to install a port under the skin of my chest for delivery of chemotherapy drugs followed. Then an echocardiogram revealed a significant pericardial effusion. The result was the cardiologist walking me from her office to the Emergency Room in the hospital. There I was admitted to the hospital for the installation of a pericardial catheter and spent three days in ICU with fluid drained off my heart each day.

My oncologist told me I was lucky to have Hodgkin Lymphoma as it is completely treatable to a cure.  A few months of feeling terrible, and then it is done, he said. 

Montaña de Oro waves

On Friday, November 13th I had my first chemotherapy treatment. Three days later I fell off a cliff into an abyss of terribleness. In its depths I felt there was no way I could do this 7 to 11 more times. Gradually over the next two weeks I felt better. The after effects of the second, third, fourth and chemo treatments have been a bit better each time.

Ship wreck at Estero Bay State Park

I am fortunate to be married to a wonderful woman. J has taken care of me and everything else in our lives throughout. She keeps me from getting too down and doesn’t mind when I am grumpy from feeling awful.

Coast on a wet day at Estero Bay State Park
A wet walk in Estero Bay State Park
Piedras Blancs Light Station

J makes sure to get me out of the house on the day before each treatment when I am feeling the best. We go on walks in some of the most beautiful natural areas in San Luis Obispo County.

The photographs accompanying this post are from our morale boosting walks in Montana de Oro State ParkEstero Bluffs State Park, and the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery just north of San Simeon.

Coast at Montaña de Oro State Park
Elephant Seals at Piedras Blancas
Pelicans at Montaña de Oro State Park

COVID-19 Diary // No. 1

Photo of a San Luis Obispo, California  residential area and hills with 5 turkey vultures flying in the cloudy sky.

Friday was the day for the local government to visibly act on COVID-19 with the public health emergency declaration. Earlier in the week the County of San Luis Obispo Public Health Agency seemed to be taking a cautious approach, probably meant to avert panic, that did not reflect the urgency of social distancing other health experts were communicating. Still, even that morning the emphasis on no local cases meant the County did not order schools closed. Closure decisions were left to the individual school districts, which one after another they made to do so during the afternoon. Going to the grocery store on Friday night found many empty shelves, but we were able to mostly do the weekly shopping.

Photo of a San Luis Obispo, California  residential area, the train station, Cerro San Luis, and Bishop Peak.

Saturday brought the first confirmed San Luis Obispo County COVID-19 case, which was followed on Sunday with the second. Both are believed to be community spread and unconnected to one another. This fact makes the seemingly sanguine response projected by the County earlier seem short sighted.

On Sunday, J and I went for a long walk in the on again, off again rain. It was nice to get out of the house.

Today, J went to work to begin planning to teach her students online. After working Saturday, it is my weekend day. I wait at home for word from the County if the Library is to join the City of San Luis Obispo government office closures and/or if I am to go to work tomorrow.

Photo of reflection in a puddle of tree limbs and metal bridge supports.


Here are more photographs from our trip to France this past July. I continue to slowly go through my captures.

These photos only hint at how amazing it is to be in Sainte-Chapelle. I know a more accomplished photographer would have come away with something that was a better representation of the grandeur of the gothic cathedral, but these bring back the memories of being there for me.