Thursday, October 29, 2009

Status Update

Bumping that 4th C-E by 2 weeks messed up other scheduled scans and appointments a bit. My followup MRI was eventually moved to Oct 14th. Dr. Close, the doctor who performed the embolizations, wanted to meet with me that same day to discuss the results.

I was done with the MRI a little after 9, and Angie wanted to be there for the consultation with Dr. Close. It's usually a 10-minute drive from home to Suburban Imaging, so I thought I had plenty of time to get Angie and return by the appointment time of 10. As it turned out, I pushed it a little too close and Angie was still asleep when I got home. She arrived separately in time to meet with Dr. Close, but needed to bring Heather with her.

Dr. Close showed that the tumors in my liver were shrinking, which was good news. But the fourth C-E also ended up producing a fair amount of infarction in the right lobe. This means that normal, healthy liver got killed as well. On its own this isn't terrible -- it will regenerate.

But somewhere in this time I had gotten a fever that went to about 102.5. Shortly after the C-E procedures, I am supposed to go to the ER if I get to 100.5. But this was four weeks later. I started monitoring the fever a little more closely prior to the 102.5, and when it got there, I called Minnesota Oncology. Of course I was told to go to the ER.

In the ER they took some blood to check for the flu, since that had started popping up about that time, but the cultures turned out negative. I don't remember the time frame all that well, but the upshot is that I ended up monitoring my temperature a lot more frequently. And I was able to discern activities that tended to increase my odds of bumping up a fever. I kept the fever business in check, but it took until just recently to really seem to break it. I think the fever has been a response to the infarction.

Again, I forget a bit the order of events, but I think the fever was before meeting with Dr. Close. Near the end of the visit, Angie had to tend to Heather, so I was by myself when I left Dr. Close's office. He left me with the impression that there was more information forthcoming, and asked me to call later in the day.

When I called, Dr. Close said that in the MRI he thought he had seen indication of the cancer spreading to bone, to my ribs. I had already been trying to schedule another PET/CT to get the "big picture" on where things might have spread. This news left me with something to expect regarding that scan.

I had the PET/CT on the 23rd, and today when I met with Dr. Amatruda I got those results. He informed me that the results showed that I have metastasis on 2nd(?) thoracic vertebra(?). I was fairly distracted during much of the rest of the visit, dwelling on this result. I boiled things down a couple of times: "If we hadn't had the progression to the bone, if it was just the liver tumors shrinking, it would have been a good news day, right?" "Yes." And, "I'd heard that when it gets to the bone, that's pretty much it." "Well, with melanoma it's not all that different from tumors on the liver." I found this comforting in its own way.

Regarding the progression to the verterbra, Dr. Tom examined me a bit. I haven't really had any pain in my back that I thought was of notice. Given this, he was leaning against using radiation to treat this, but it is something he will consider with the radiation treatment folks.

I was finally able to focus a bit as Dr. Amatruda again presented my treatment options.
We're going to check on my eligibility for the experimental treatment or Avastin, my first and second choices, and then go from there. Wel'll see where things go.

But I've been feeling fairly good lately. Thankfully the pain after this 4th C-E hasn't been as bad as the 3rd. Still, it has been a pretty long recovery time. The fevers and infarction complicated things a bit. My appetite was not very keen much of the time since #4, but I think things are returning to a normal. Yesterday I had 3 meals and had a fairly productive full day at work.

So that's about where things stand.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Halloween Hall 'O Fame

I'd like to watch this with Heather. I packaged up the 5 videos I found here.

Disney Halloween Special from 1977 starring comedian Jonathan Winters.

Heather got a bit scared by that last one.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


In late July, Dad took a turn for the worse from what he had been like earlier when we had visited. His "Mr. Hyde" personality reared itself in a bad way on some doctor's visit, and since then he had pretty much been under 24-hour care. And he pretty much continued to go downhill from there, with only brief moments where the Dad we've known and loved all our lives was still with us for a smile or an attempt to put one on Mom's face.

Dad passed away Sunday evening. I have been praying for angels to be by his side to remind his spirit that he was loved by many. And I have hoped and prayed for relief from his suffering, Alzheimer's is such a cruel disease. It has been hard to watch him lose his mind. I am not relieved that he is gone, but it does give my sadness pause when I think of him in the grace of our Lord with his suffering now ended.

I was trying to write something here when I started this post on the 12th, and later I wrote 5 pages of something -- paper and pen -- on the drive back to Bismarck for the funeral. But the obituary that Mom wrote it much better, so I'll instead quote it in its entirety:
Donald Sinkula

Donald “Sinkie” Sinkula, 79, Bismarck, died October 11, 2009, at Marian Manor Health Care Center, Glen Ullin. Services will be held at 10:00 am Saturday at Parkway Funeral Service Chapel, 2330 Tyler Parkway, Bismarck, with Rev. Paul Becker officiating. Burial will be held in Sunset Memorial Gardens, Bismarck.

Visitation will be held from 3:00 pm until 9:00 pm Friday at Parkway Funeral Service, Bismarck.

Donald was born on December 8, 1929, in Mandan, ND, to Margaret Zingsheim and Anton J. Sinkula. He lived in Mandan, graduating in 1947. He worked for Bingenheimer Mercantile during high school. Donald enlisted in the Navy as a hospital corpsman, and was honorably discharged in 1949. He returned to Mandan to work for Bingenheimer’s where his interest in woodworking became his hobby as well, building for family and friends; furniture, a screen house for his children, and his own garage.

Donald was united in marriage to Lillian Maye Ruud on January 24, 1959, at St. Mary’s Church in Bismarck with Monsignor Feehan officiating. They celebrated their 50th anniversary this year. Their marriage was blessed with two children, Karen and David.

In 1967, the family moved to Bismarck, where Donald accepted a job as Postal Clerk with the US Post Office and retired after 25 years. Collecting steins was a favorite hobby with themes of Space, Olympics, Sports, etc. ballooning to over 100.

Donald enjoyed spending summers at the trailer in Happy Acres at Pick City, being a neighbor with many friends from Bismarck-Mandan, as well as gardening. He was a sponsor in building the VFW Sports Center Arena in Bismarck, and supported the Musicians Association Band Shell in Mandan.

Donald was a 54 year member of Bismarck-Mandan Elks Lodge, a 38 year member of the Fraternal Order of Eagles, member of Amvets, and the Disabled American Veterans.

He is survived by his wife, Lillian (Maye); his daughter, Karen Truong and grandsons, Michael and James of Seattle; his son, David and his wife, Angie and granddaughter, Heather of Coon Rapids, MN, and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.

He was preceded in death by his mother, Margaret; his father, Anton; his sisters, Margaret, Marcella, Martha, Dolores, Florence, Loretta, and Mary; and his brothers, John, Tony, James, Joe and Francis.

Memorials may be given to Camp Grassick through the Elks Foundation in Bismarck, the Central Dakota Humane Society in Mandan, or a memorial of your choice.
We will miss you Dad.