tisdag 16 oktober 2018

Chemo therapy, fourth cycle of eight

Another cycle nears its end and when this one is done I will be halfway through my chemotherapy.

This cycle has had its ups and downs just like the ones before just in its own way this time.
Started out with getting really tired the first 4 days, couldn't go to work on Monday and Tuesday, but after that the it got a little better and I was able to do my 50% the rest of that week.

One thing that I've noticed is that if I push myself to train, even for 10 minutes with slow tempo, I don't have to go to bed in the afternoons. It just feels counter productive to put on the running shoes or change into cycling gear when my body screams for the bed. But it has been worth it each time, tired in another way afterwards and more awake. Tired in body, awake in head instead of just tired.
So, no big training sessions while in a chemo-cycle but at least I do something.

Other than the training and the positive effects from that I haven't had as many anxiety attacks this cycle. Had a big one though and actually ended up crying for twenty minutes with no control of it. The 'normal' anxiety attacks I usually get just pass by and brings up tears but seldom last for more then a minute or two. This one made me cry for real, for the first time since I got the cancer news in January. I guess its part of the process, things starting to hit home. Not trying to focus on these things, just note down in my treatment diary that I had an anxiety attack and move on to other things like coding, training or just read a book.

Another big thing I guess is that I've started reading other peoples stories on twitter. I don't think that I can cope reading a longer post at the moment, but scrolling down twitter tags has made me able to process things in a different light. From when I got the news in January I've said that I don't want to know more then what the doctors tell me, I haven't googled my disease and I've kind of blocked out most of the outside world on this subject and just focused on getting better. But now, 10 months later, I think that I'm ready to read up a little more. Not going to google my cancer form, but read up on how other people are coping with their journey.

I don't know how it is in the rest of the world, but here in Sweden, October has become the pink month. This means that the Swedish Cancer Society runs its breast cancer campaign and this includes a lot of companies doing cancer related advertisements. Hard to miss, and this year the campaign has really hit home and made me really emotional. Haven't really care during previous years but now, having a lot to thank cancer research for, I really wish everyone could donate money to cancer research instead of buying a cup of coffee. Or if you live in Sweden, just buy the ribbon!

So, almost halfway through the treatment. 

Why I am writing this? Not to feel sorry for myself, but as a way to handle the situation and hopefully someone else out there in a similar situation can find this helpful as well. The human body is strong and hopefully I'll come out of this stronger as well. Plan for the worst and hope for the best! If you find this post interesting, please leave a comment or share on social media, not required but appreciated!

onsdag 3 oktober 2018

Installing a Hot Tub Pw-Spa Classic

In July we decided to buy a hot tub with a wood stove. After quite a lot of research we decided to buy a PW-SPA Classic that has a diameter of 180 cm.

2 weeks after we ordered it, the whole thing arrived together with a new greenhouse. First step was to remove our old greenhouse and assemble the new one on a new location in the backyard as we would be placing the hot tub where the old one used to be.

For starters, the ground was leveled and we used concrete slabs to build a level support for the tub.
As the tub is 180 cm in diameter and weighs in at around 200 kg, we had to ask a friend that owns a HUDDIG to move it for us.

And as both my wife and I are not used to doing things half-way only we also decided to build a decking around the hot tub.

Building the decking, photos to tell the story
Building the steps up to the deck

Close fit to the hot tub

Close fit to the hot tub
Connecting the stove to the hot tub

Adding some railings
Side that can be opened for maintenance access

PW-SPA stove chimney with home made DIY spark protection mesh


The included chimney was around 2 meters long with rain protection and 3 large holes. I ended up adding some metal mesh for spark protection. (I saw that they sold a separate chimney top with spark protection for 80€, instead I just used material that I already had at home.)

Adding water

Heating time

When the tub is empty, it takes about 1 hour to fill up with enough water to start the stove (regular garden hose). About 1.5 - 2 hours to fill it up to full.. A little depending on how many people will be using it. If its just 2 persons, then you need more water.
The heating takes around 2-3 hours. So a total time of 3 hours to from empty to hot water in the tub. These are summer-time numbers, I'll update with winter-time numbers when we get some snow and below zero temperatures!

The lid

Not really happy about the lid. At first the dealer had misplaced the original lid so they ordered a new from Finland. 6 weeks later when it arrived it had hundreds of scratch marks on it. We complained to the dealer and after countless of mails back and forth they agreed to pay back 100€.... At least it's something. After looking closely at the tub I found similar marks on it as well, nothing that I would have noticed but it seems that the PW-SPA has some quality issues with its plastic components.

The drain

When emptying the tub, be sure to have a good surface that the water can hit as it comes with quite some force from the drain. I ended up placing some concrete slabs strategically to prevent the water from creating a hole in the ground. Also, remember to empty the stove by opening it as well. Not good to have old water standing still in there either, could build up bacteria. So empty both the tub and the stove.


We wanted a hot tub with external wooden stove. And we got it. Nothing wrong with the stove, but the dealers customer service was a real pain....
Really happy with the decking as well, a good decision. I think that just having the tub standing there by itself would have been strange.

I bought this product myself and this is my opinion on them. I am in no way affiliated with the manufacturer of this product.

måndag 17 september 2018

Chemo therapy, third cycle of eight

So the weeks go by and I started the third cycle of chemo therapy on Friday evening last week.

So, what has happened? 

After the first cycle, I was supposed to have one week of rest and then start the second cycle. The day before the cycle started the hospital took some blood samples and they called and said that my white blood cell had not recovered. So a second rest week was ordered.
I talked with the doctor and he told me that this was quite common for the first cycle dosage to be a bit too high and that they would correct it for the second cycle.

The Anxiety

At this point I also booked a time with my counselor for call therapy, during the first phase with all the surgery etc, I always had the picture in my head that I was sick because of the big wound on my chest. I knew that I had cancer, but the mind is strange and connects the dots to whatever is closest. In my case I was focusing on healing the wound and when that was done I would be able to do stuff again. Turns out I was unable to do things the way I want, and the chemo therapy doesn't help either. I got assigned a counselor already after the first surgery, so I already had a contact and talking really helps. Of course, I can talk with my family and friends but it is easier to talk about the darker things with someone impartial.
Going through this process, when the chest wound has healed but I am not healed has put some issues in my mind. Even if I don't want to know the chances of full recovery, I have not been able to shake the feeling that even if I beat this cancer this time it could come back. So good to talk with a counselor. I really do recommend it if you are in a similar situation.
My anxiety is acting up whenever I am tired and alone. Seldom if my wife is home. Often when watching TV, it could be anything really. I could be driving the car and suddenly my mind starts thinking about my situation in a new way and I get a micro anxiety attack, it can last from 2 seconds to a minute... And as suddenly as it starts it is over and I am back to normal. I've never had issues with anxiety before so this is quite new to me. Step 1, accept it as a part of the situation that I am currently in.

Rest weeks

After the second rest week they took some more blood samples and came to the same conclusion. Wait another week.
The good thing with 3 rest weeks was that my body started to come back a little. I was able to go for some 1-2 hour rides on my bike. Still, whenever a small hill comes up I really struggle to find a lower gear but I can do it! And that really helps! And moving really helps!
This also got me to start forming a plan for a bike trip for next summer, something that I've had on my bucket list for some years now, cycle to Italy through the Stelvio pass.
I got an OK from my wife (not an enthusiastic OK, but an OK) if I could find someone to ride with me. Turns out that I got 1-2 coworkers that are willing to go for the ride! So now I have something to look forward to and train for. But more on that on my adventure blog!

Second cycle

After the three rest weeks I started my second cycle. It was with a lower dosage, 2000 mg capecitabin instead of 2650 mg twice per day. Evidently this lower dosage should not impact the treatment, neither should the extra rest weeks.
Back on a cycle, I got anxiety attacks again. For each day that went, I got more tired and the anxiety attacks seem to be related to that in some way. I am more sensitive.
I also noticed that I got more and more tired. The second week on the second cycle I noticed that I slept 3 hours after work on Monday. And then on Tuesday I worked 2 hours instead of the 4 due to nausea, and on Wednesday I stayed at home to rest. Back at work on Thursday for 2 hours and then Friday, last day in the cycle for 4 hours.
Also I had some numbing of hands on the second week of the cycle.

Second rest week

On the rest week again and I did not have to rest that much during the time, think I slept 1 hour on Tuesday. Blood samples were OK again, even though my red blood cells were still on 110.. Same as before the second cycle. Evidently the chemo therapy holds down these as well and I should not expect to get back to my normal blood value of 150 until after the last chemo cycle. But yes, I was able to start the third cycle directly after one week of rest.

Third cycle

Me and my nurse decided to try something new this cycle to get a better grip on my nausea that usually comes 30 minutes to some hours after I take the pills. This cycle I am to take a pill called Pimpera before I eat something 30 minutes before the chemo pills. Hopefully this will have better effect then the previous cycles where I've been instructed to take the Pimpera in case I get nausea, usually that is too late.
So, third day and so far so good. No nausea yet. But the cycle is pretty long so I guess things can change along the road.

Until next time, keep safe and carry on with life!

Why I am writing this? Not to feel sorry for myself, but as a way to handle the situation and hopefully someone else out there in a similar situation can find this helpful as well. The human body is strong and hopefully I'll come out of this stronger as well. Plan for the worst and hope for the best!