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. 5

Photo of Cal Poly Multi Activity Center
Cal Poly Multi Activity Center is the home of CPACS.

San Luis Obispo County is beginning to open up for business again. I am still working at the Cal Poly Alternate Care Site (CPACS) to help keep everything ready. It will be held in place throughout the Summer or longer in case a second wave of the virus overwhelms the local hospitals.

The library is preparing to offer curbside service for picking up materials beginning on June 2nd. I will be there for the first day, but then back to CPACS to rearrange everything in the warehouse as more supplies are in bound from other County warehouses.

My hope is that things are not moving too fast and we do not see a spike in people getting COVID-19.

COVID-19 Diary // No. 3

It has been nearly a month since I last posted about my work during this time. Over these many days I have worked night shifts, 11:00pm to 8:00am, at a homeless shelter and continued to deliver food. The nights were hard on me as I was having to switch between working at night and then during the day.

On 02 April, I was called to work at the County of San Luis Obispo’s Alternate Care Site that was being made in a giant Recreation Center building at Cal Poly State University. This is where COVID-19 patients would be sent if the local hospitals reached capacity. I was made the co-lead for managing the temporary hospital’s supply warehouse, which ended my other assignments. We have worked 60 hour weeks until now to prepare to open. I have not done so much physical labor in many years. Sunday was a much needed day off after working 17 consecutive days. I am still pretty tired, but happy for two reasons; the facility is ready and there is not yet a need for patients to be there.

During the preceding weeks, I have not had the energy for photography. I tried yesterday as we went for a long walk, but saw nothing to make me raise the camera. I think my mind is too preoccupied to relax or focus on anything. Perhaps soon I will be able to make photos again.

COVID-19 Diary // No. 2

Strange days. Now 42 cases in the County. I am a local government employee, and we are all now Disaster Service Workers. DSW jobs have kept me busy. No photos today, just memories from last few days…

Sunday, 22 March

Homeless Warming Center

At night standing in rain while young woman refused to put on the required to enter face mask. The director was soothing and talked her into it, but she left into the wet, muttering about how crazy it was 20 minutes later.

Dark, cold, pouring rain, standing out in it, waiting for more people to arrive to get a meal and a warm bed, watching a hawk sit on a power pole for 15 minutes before flying away. Felt alone when she left.

  • Disinfected cots
  • Checked people in

Monday, 23 March

Homeless Shelter

Clients not interested in social distancing despite being encouraged to do so. Staff feeling COVID-19 cases inevitable. They have isolation rooms ready for when suspected cases show up. The dedicated staff is upbeat, confident in their plan, but realistic about what lies ahead.

  • Striped and disinfected beds
  • Organized storeroom

Tuesday, 24 March

Food delivery

Utter confusion about where food was delivered for us to pickup and take to people. After an hour calling and texting, tracked it down.

Hard to find some residences in the mazes of trailer parks and apartment complexes.

Shirley calling me back to thank me for bringing the food made me feel the confusion and frustration of the day was worth it.

  • Packed boxes of food
  • Delivered boxes