Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Catching up

There are years that ask questions and years that answer
- Zora Neale Hurston

A friend found this quote and sent it to me. I think it sums things up appropriately for us. I hope that we are soon able to transition into a year that answers.

Catching up a bit- A's body scan was fine. He spoke with the oncologist and there was no evidence of cancer spread beyond the neck area. I was so relieved when I heard the news and I know A was too. Radiation treatments begin tomorrow and will go for 6-8 weeks. Sadly, A had to shave off the goatee he was finally able to grown because it was uncomfortable under the head placement mask that A has to wear during treatment. The radiation is supposed to affect hair growth on his neck, so we'll see if he's able to grow it back again.

We finally got in contact with the ALPA aeromedical office in Colorado. The confirmed that we are on the correct treatment path and said that A did have have to wait a full year after the conclusion of treatment to apply for his medical. A's oncologist, a former military flight surgeon, says that he thinks A only needs to be out for six months and will write a letter to the FAA clearing him early when it is time. So we'll see what happens with that, but no worrying about it until December.

Until then A is stuck at home with little to do. He's taken on a few big projects, mainly tranisitioning us to a new main computer and making our living space more environmentally friendly, as well as spending some time on some new hobbies. The problem is, unless you are a retiree or a stay at home mom, there are few chances for interaction with others when one is home all day. By the end of the day he's staved for interaction and I'm exhausted by work. It's not an equation that is working out well for us. So we're looking into ways to get him out of the house a bit. Maybe he'll go back to school.

We got put off by the LTD company until the May meeting, even thought we had our paperwork in in time for the April meeting. So another month until that gets settled. He's been off since February, I thought for sure it would be worked out by now!

It's been 8 weeks since A left work and we found out the cancer news. On one hand, it feels like it's all been a whirlwind. On the other, it's hard to remember what life was like when he was an active pilot. A lot of friends who jumped in to offer help have disappeared again. Other friends are just now getting the news. The hardest part for us so far has been the setback in acheiving our goals. A had finally gotten a good foot into this dream career- on hold. We were about to acheive some goals financially- on hold and partially lost. Moving out of an unsatisfying job for me- on hold.

This past year has forced us to ask a lot of questions- of ourselves and others. It hasn't always been the easiest to ask those questions and we haven't always liked the answers we've gotten, but we've made it this far and that's what counts.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Turning the tables

Yesterday we had a bit of role reversal and A had to take me in for a procedure. It was a small thing at an outpatient center, but for once, I was the patient and he was the caregiver. He did a great job, even when I was at my worst. I don't do well with the "don't eat for XX hours prior to coming in" rules b/c I lose all pretense of politeness when I am hungry. A found out the hard way during our 5 day drive to FL that I give a 20 minute "I need food" warning and if I don't get fed or a have a concrete plan for when I will get fed, my head will spin around backwards and I'll start spewing profanity laced missives at him. But nevertheless, he sat patiently in the waiting room during the procedure, drove my loopy person home and went out to get the prescription pain meds. Despite how much neither of us wants to be in the positions we are in, I think it's eye opening to be put into the other persons shoes.

A went for his body scan today (CAT? PET?) where they checked to see where all of the radiation from the pill had collected. He said it took 1.5 hours in the machine, him having to lay still the entire time. He left there somewhat worrisome because they took a bunch of extra scans of his abdominal and pelvis area after they completed the initial scan. We are hoping that this doesn't mean that the cancer has metastizied and spread. His initial diagnosis was at a Stage 3 based on size and spread, on a scale of 1-5. We joke that of course his has to be more serious and invasive b/c he's the guy who doesn't do anything in a half-assed manner. We expect that we will hear some results on Monday, when A has his next appt (for beam treatment simulation), if not tomorrow from his Dr. Not looking forward to another weekend of trying to pretend everything is OK, when we don't know if they are.

Today I finally got A to call the ALPA (union) Areomedical office to get them involved in his case. He's been in such denial that he hasn't yet notified the FAA that he's been grounded. They will help him do that, help monitor his case and help him prepare is case for submission for reapproval of his medical when he is ready.

On another note, I hit over 30,000 views on my blog. I can't believe it! I never thought that I would reach a number that high. I changed up the poll and put a new one up. Please vote! It's anonymous- there's no reason not to!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

We made it!

Woohoo! Several items of good news today.

We made it past the one year mark and now qualify for FML time. This is huge for us because it means we'll get to keep our health insurance and won't have to pay for coverage out of pocket. Also, we have, almost in hand, the long awaited, completed LTD paperwork. We can now send it in and get qualified for LTD (income and insurance protection). AND we found out from the Dr (who is familiar with the FAA) that the after treatment waiting period is only six months, not one year, before A can reapply for his class 1 medical. Of course, with government processing time, it will take several more months to actually GET the medical, but at least the wait time is cut down. Hopefully we will contine to get the good news we so desperately desire.

A took his radioactive pill on monday. Having to keep away from him has been strange, but doable. Monday evening he slept most of the time and I puttered around the apartment. Tuesday we attempted to complete some paperwork and bickered from opposite corners of the room. Tonight we can actually spend time sitting next to each other. The next phase of treatment, the beam radiation, will begin in a few weeks and is estimated to be concluded by the beginning of June.

Although I do my best not to get too caught up in all of this, I can't deny that it does take a toll on me. My emotional side gets so angry at times at A for making us have to go through all of this and thwarting all of our (my) plans. Even though logically I know that it's not his fault and he's not particularly happy about it either, which makes me feel guilty for being angry at him. I know that I'm going through a normal range of emotions with this, but it still feels like this guilty internal struggle. I can't wait until I can look back on this from a distance.

I added a poll to the blog because I'm curious how people found this (meaning this, the Oh The Life blog, at either location)blog. Cast your vote and fulfill my curiousity!