I’ve been having some health issues over the last month or more and I just noticed how much medication all of this has involved.  As I’ve said before, I don’t want this blog to degenerate into a “Tom’s Health” commentary so I won’t add more details but I think this picture says it all.


This may turn out to be a long and disjointed post so be forewarned.

At this time (mid-September 2010) Jan and I should have been well into our visit to Australia.  I’ve always, since I was a teen, wanted to go there and when we learned the 2010 Worldcon was to be held in Melbourne, we decided that we would go whole-hog and attend the convention, and then tour Australia.  All plans were made well in advance and we were set to go.

Then Real Life™ intervened.   In April I learned that my lymphoma had returned and I began another course of chemotherapy.   The conclusion of that process was a round of high-dose chemo followed by a bone marrow transplant.  Needless to say, the Australia trip had to be canceled.

Countless friends provided tremendous support both for myself and Jan during all of this. I received  cards from all over and even more emails with good wishes and encouragement.  On August 10th I was able to return home after 28 days in the hospital.  Even after coming home, my friends continued to provide support and encouragement.

In particular members of the  on-line community,, were a constant source of support.  A number of them are part of an organization called The SFWA Musketeers which I have been involved with for a number of years.  I have worked as an ‘Auxiliaryand assisted them in their charity fund-raising activities at various SF conventions.

All this is a way of explaining the wonderful gift I received in today’s mail.  To help cheer me up and partially make up for the missed Australia trip, they sent me this:

For those of you not in on the scheme, it was a plush toy Platypus (Mortimer Gervias Platypus) who is dressed in a costume like those the SFWA Musketeers wear for their performances.  In addition  it came with an extra special bonus, a one-of-a-kind booklet, “The Platypus Diaries“, which explains how Mortimer came to Iowa.

Needless to say, I’ve been grinning from ear to ear since this arrived and I’m looking for the perfect place to display this treasure.

So first let me thank everyone who was thinking about me through my recent ‘adventure.’  I can’t say it enough, but all the cards, emails and even phone calls helped me get through everything with a positive attitude.  And special thanks to those who were responsible for Mortimer.  You know who you are!

I’ve been rather poor about posting to the blog lately.  No real excuse except I’ve been doing other stuff.

I’ve been slowly recovering after my chemotherapy and things are going fairly well.  I still am rather weak and tire out easily but gradually I’m getting back to normal. My hair is starting to grow back – I actually have a visible beard again.  I still don’t know what I’m going to do with my hair.  So many people have commented that they like me bald, so I may continue that look.  Depends on how much of a hassle it is to maintain.

I also had cataract surgery May 15 on my left eye and my vision is already significantly better.  I’ll have the right eye done on June 4 and after that I should have better eyesight than I have for many years.

With better vision I hope I will be posting more here.   Stay tuned.

Ringing The Bell

I’m way behind on posting this.

I had my last chemo treatment on March 02 (HOORAY!) and one of the traditions at the clinic is that, after their final treatment, the patient get to ring the bell to signify the event.  Well, here I am – wish I had audio.

Ringing the Bell

All of the staff and other patients cheered or applauded.  It felt very good.

Jan also took a few pictures of the nurses who took such good care of me through all of my treatments.  Here I am with Lesta and Wendy who were the ones who usually hooked  up and monitored me while the drugs were administered.


Below is Carol, who managed the pharmacy and looked out for me in terms of drug interactions and possible side effects.  She was also one of the most cheerful and funny people on the staff.  She even dressed up in costume for special events.


While the whole process was rather difficult and long, the staff at the clinic did everything they could to make the process as easy as possibe for me.  Thanks to everyone there.

Happy Socks

The following was written by Jan concerning one of her many contributions to my lymphoma recovery.

Happy Socks

Happy Socks

The origin of these cheerful socks was Spokane, WA.  When visiting my sister, Edith, I saw these socks in one of the gift stores which specialized in “homemade” items made locally and I exclaimed how cool I thought they were.  Guess what came wrapped in my Christmas stocking that year?  Santa must of been following me around.

When it was determined Tom had lymphoma, we had a visit scheduled with the doctor to discuss how serious it was and what treatment would be the best.  Both of us were quite worried about the outcome of this meeting so I decided we needed some brightness to cheer us up so I put on what I called my “happy socks” and told Tom that, no matter what the outcome would be, he should look at my bright socks, think happy thoughts, and smile.  And they have worked throughout his treatment process, including his brief hospitalization.  Just looking at them brings a smile to our faces.  Sometimes it is the little things that matter most.

They really work!

Medical Update #2

Yesterday, (02/16/09), I  (and Jan) got the results of my PET scan done on Friday (the 13th).  No numerological gremlins interfered.  In short, the results were all we hoped for.  It showed my lymph nodes essentially normal without “hypermetabolic foci”  which I take to mean nothing is rapidly growing there.

Unfortunately, my normal oncologist was out of town and the doctor I saw had not been continuously  involved with my case.  Still, he was competent and thorough and said I am doing well.  The only negative was that my red cell count has dropped from what it was two weeks ago.  This accounts for my tiredness and occasional vertigo.  Still, with only one treatment to go, I am sure I can muddle through.

After getting the report, I had my 5th and (hopefully) penultimate chemo treatment.  The treatment went smoothly and without a problem – it’s really getting to be routine.  Next (and last) treatment will be March 2 and after that I hope to get back to what passes for normal.

More as it happens.

Medical Update

Sorry this is late but real life gets in the way.

I had my third chemo treatment on Monday.  Nothing unusual happened but since some readers may be curious, I thought I’d add a brief post.

The process  of these chemo treatments is rather interesting.  They take place in a large room with  20 or more chairs for patients.  A number of nurses scurry around attending to several  patients each.  People sit there while the medication slowly drips into their veins, or some just get a single injection.  While waiting, snacks and various drinks (no alcohol 🙁 ) are available.  I usually listen to podcasts on my iPod.

My treatments are about  two hours long, others people’s can be three or more.  I get three different chemo drugs plus an anti-nausea drug and saline drip.  All-in-all it’s a rather dull, uninteresting process but I am fascinated by the range of people who are all there for the same reason.  It is surprising that, with all these people suffering from cancer, they are, with few exceptions, all cheerful and smiling.  I think it is because we feel we are actually doing something to help in our cure.  Plus a positive attitude has been shown to increase the chances of a cure.

My next treatment will be  two weeks after this one.

Medical Stuff

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here – a whole month in fact. This has been due to a medical situation that has been stressful and time consuming.Briefly the details are like this.

Last summer I noticed a lump on my face, just in front of my right ear. I wasn’t sure what it was and since there was no pain associated with it I didn’t follow up on it immediately. Finally in early fall I mentioned it to my doctor and he referred me to an ENT surgeon with the intention of having it removed and analyzed.

First I had a MRI of the region and it was called a probable lymphoma which was involved with other lymph glands. In early December I had surgery on my right parotid gland to remove the lump and get samples for analysis. Tests confirmed it as non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at stage III and I was referred to a oncologist.

After more tests and exams I started chemotherapy on Dec. 18. My treatments will repeat every two weeks for six cycles total. With luck that will be the end of it. I just had my second session on January 5th and all went smoothly.

So far the side effects have been minimal. The most apparent one being the loss of my hair but I’m also more tired than usual and, curiously, also having problems sleeping. Before my second chemo session my white cell count went very low so I needed injections to get it up to a safe range. Things seem to be back on track now.

If untreated, this disease would be life threatening but with treatment my odds are very good for complete remission. Even without complete remission it can be reduced to a less dangerous form which can be controlled. I am very confident that I’ll be back to my old self within a few months.

For the curious, here are before and after pictures of me.

mebefore meafter

I’ll post more info in the future and I’ll try to get back to more regular blog posting.