Went to Burbank UCLA clinic for Larry’s infusion – this was the first time we were back and the first available time for him to get the FolFox + Avastin there. We’ve stopped going to City of Hope as the emotional toll it takes on us is not worth going there and since we’re back on a standard regimen, it is nicer to go where we feel comfortable. Dr Arzoo saw him and it wasn’t good. He obviously saw how weak and jaundice Larry has become – and asked if he wanted to do this. It’s necessary to have a few treatments in place to see how it’s doing in his system – we all agreed let’s continue the fight if we can. Arzoo ended up reducing the intensity to not wreck Larry. It’s tough though – if he only gets worse over the next two weeks, Arzoo will likely stop treatment as it’s not worth it at that point. Larry & I spoke privately after that – I will not make him go through this pain and suffering if it isn’t going to help him. He understands that and agrees. Will remain to be seen if Fran agrees but I can’t imagine she would want him to suffer unnecessarily. We did end up getting a call from Dr Goldman, who is at UCLA conducting a clinical trial that Arzoo recommended him for. We meet with him on Monday, Dec 2 in Santa Monica. My back was still terrible this whole day. Nicki came over that night – we ordered Jerry’s Deli again as it really is amazing. We watched some TV all together. I thought I’d lie on the floor to put the big ice pack Joel bought me on my back, but I could NOT get up, and obviously Larry couldn’t get me. Had to get Joel to come and pull me up. Ugh.
Note: I’m writing this from April 2020 – I did not post much of anything at all on my site during 2019 as Larry’s illness, my mom’s issues, and just general malaise kept my website motivation low.
It was finally the day for Larry’s surgery. All the prep appointments and evaluations had been made, and it was deemed that he could have the hepatic pump surgery. What that meant was that they would open up his abdomen, making a big L-shape cut, and place a pump right below his ribs and to the left. They’d find the artery that fed his liver and hijack that artery to pump the chemo into, so that it bypassed all the other organs. He’d have to lose his gall bladder, as it would wither and die from this, but it isn’t needed. The other issue that we had to prepare for was if they open him up and visually scan for signs of cancer outside of the liver. If there was, they’d probably have to abandon the surgery. So yeah, it was a lot of surgery, and there was going to be a lot of recovery, mostly at the hospital. I had hoped for a week of recovery so the surgery was on Sept 3 and my flight home was Sept 10.
The day of that surgery was a long one – he had to be at MSK to check in by 4am, so we were up at an ungodly hour to get ready and then drive in. Happily, there’s no traffic at that time. We were the first patients and family to get there, and were there even before the staff that could check us in were there. Eventually, the day kicked in, and Larry was brought into prep. We could be there for that, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared out of my mind. We had to hope there was no visual signs of cancer as we knew this was the next step – he had to have the hepatic pump or we were back to square one and a situation in which we had very few options as the oxalyplatin was not something he could keep doing, although effective.
We said goodbye to Larry and then had to wait for 3-4 hours for any word. It was a long time to wait. We did get the word that there was no visual sign of cancer, and that the surgery was able to continue. It was good news. We then got word that everything went as good as could be hoped during the surgery, but of course there was just going to be a lot of recovery. Larry would be weak, he’d be in pain, and he would be tired.
All of those were true. It was a long recovery, and it was not smooth. He was able to start moving around fairly soon, but his GI tract wasn’t kicking in. That apparently is one part of the body that can take the longest to resume after anesthesia, and in this case, it took a long time. It finally did, unfortunately explosively and messily. He also was gagging, and they ended up having to put a tube through his nose down his throat to help. It was a lot. He hated it. Eventually his condition improved though, and that was able to be removed after a few days, which helped his mindset. He had lots of physical therapy (and an attractive physical therapist at times, as seen in the pics below), and lots of naps and rest. He had a lot of visitors, but unfortunately he did not have a private room. There were multiple neighbors throughout his stay, the last one being suuuuuuper annoying. It was actually the wife that was the worst, but what can you do.
During this time, Fran, Joel, and I would drive in and out of the city every day. We should have gotten a hotel room. That back and forth was exhausting. We did get dinners a few times at some local restaurants, which was nice. I snapped at Fran one night – it wasn’t my best moment, but I was exhausted, annoyed by the neighbors, and I just was tired of whatever she had been saying or how she was saying it. I honestly don’t recall. We ended up having dinner that night and getting through it. It’s exhausting remembering it all now, as those were long days sitting in that small room and trying to hope and pray that what he went through was going to be worth it. We had hoped it would buy Larry 3-5 more years, with the hopes that some new treatment would come down the line that would be perfect for him. Maybe this chemo alone would be the thing that helped him. We obviously didn’t know it wasn’t to be. But Larry was a fighter until the end, and never gave up. His spirit moves me to this day – his smile and fight is a goddamn miracle as I don’t know if I’d have it. But we were there for him through it all. I love you, Larry.
His recovery took a bit longer than I had planned for, and I left on Sept 10 – he didn’t get out until Sept 11. I obviously felt bad, but he was in good hands and safe. I’d be back at the end of the month.
Sept 3-9, 2019 – Memorial Sloan Kettering surgery
I was no fan of 2018, that is for sure. As 2018 ends though, there are good things on deck and I’ll hope that 2019 is a bit gentler and happier. I felt like getting out the rest of the pictures I have from 2018 before NYE tonight, so here goes:
Last Holidays at AMLI:
Honestly, as we get ready to move into our new house, there will be some sadness at leaving our apartment here at the AMLI development. We’ve been here for almost 4 years! That’s one of the longest times I’ve lived anywhere. The location was fantastic for being able to walk to dining, shopping, and movies, and it was a small apartment but not in a bad way. Except for having people over – the small size definitely kept us from entertaining. So yeah, the new house we’re getting will be much more amenable to having people over!
Cool Shot of the Grand Wilshire one night:
Paras & Carey Engagement / Holiday Party Fun – 15 Dec 2018
Our good friends Paras & Carey got engaged earlier this month! It’s fantastic news and they’re such a fun couple and some of our favorite people. They had friends over for a Holiday-then-Engagement party and man oh man did I get drunk. What did me in was after a whole night of drinking red wine, we switched to champagne to toast the couple. OOF. Not a good idea, at least for me. Definite hangover the next day. Anyway – pics!
Happy Hour with PwC
Before the PwC holiday break, the group I work with at PwC had a nice happy hour after work, when we all had come in to meet for a prep session. It was fun, and I do love working with these guys. All very smart and all a lot of fun.
Christmas at Mom’s
I’ve had the week off because PwC shuts down during the week between Christmas and New Year’s. We didn’t expect to do much in terms of activities this week as we knew we were gearing up to close on the house and buy a ton of appliances, so let’s just chill. Unfortunately though, Larry ended up getting hit pretty hard with something that laid him out Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I ended up going to Mom’s by myself to meet up with Mom, Stacie, and Trent. It was a fun time, but certainly my mind wasn’t all there thinking about Larry.
When I got back home from Mom’s, Larry was ready to go to the ER as he had a fever and it was just the culmination of him feeling really shitty. As we prepared to do that, his fever kind of broke and we ended up not going. Larry had chemo the next day (Wednesday) and both of us thought there’s no way he’ll be able to get it, but when we went in, the doctor ran blood tests and everything was better. Some of the pain that Larry had been feeling in his chest area the doctor predicted was likely an ulcer in his esophagus area, likely from stress. He got a prescription and that medicine seems to have helped – and whatever bug or illness was messing with him looks to have also gone away.
The last chemo session (Number 12!) was started on Wednesday and on Friday, he was able to say goodbye to the pump, hopefully for the last time. It’s exciting to know that he’s past that first, super-intensive phase and that we know it did it’s job. Now we just have to get ready for what comes next. Hopeful that 2019 yields some good news there.
The Glen LA update:
First, we have wired our down payment to the escrow company, so things are feeling really fucking real as of today. A closing date of today was actually in the cards, but because of the gas company (again) not being done with the installation until last week, the city sign-off won’t happen until next week (hopefully).
We did have two walkthroughs with the builder’s service rep over the past two weeks and folks, we not only have power, we DO have gas as well! There are a good number of small little things, mostly touch-up type stuff, for the builder to resolve, but basically, this house is almost ready to go!
You’ll also notice that the backsplash is in, which was one of the last things that we noticed as needing to be installed, and man, when we finally got to see it, it was such a joy. The kitchen looks goooood. The whole house looks great!
Follow-Up Visit to see if Gas worked!
Larry’s energy has been better this past weekend, so on Sunday, we went to Best Buy and bought the remaining appliances we didn’t have yet, a refrigerator and a washer & dryer. We’re pretty damn happy with the choices we made:
Next thing we’ve got our eye on is buying a king-size mattress set, and we went to Macy’s yesterday and I think we know what we want but we didn’t pull the trigger yesterday. Might have to do that tomorrow though.
We’ve been watching a lot of movies lately. The weekend before Christmas, when Larry was feeling okay, we actually saw two movies:
- Bumblebee: Holy shitballs, this was the Transformers movie I’ve always wanted. It’s fantastic, it’s got the old-school 1980s style of Transformers, it’s funny, there’s actual emotional performances to be found, it’s got heart, and it’s a blast. Highly recommended.
- Aquaman: Look at DC, finally figuring out how to make their superhero movies. Wonder Woman was finally something good from them, and of all things, they made Aquaman a thrilling and fun movie. It doesn’t hurt at all that Jason Momoa is practically perfect in the role, even if there’s no way you would have believed they’d go with his look for Aquaman based off of his traditional comic-book appearance. The movie is a touch too long, and there’s a lot of video-game style plotting going on (go here to get that, then go there to get this, but first get this other thing) but it’s still really entertaining. I think DC really needs to consider jettisoning all the Snyder nonsense and figure out how to tell the best Superman movie they can. Good luck though, as Richard Donner already did that.
At home, we’ve watched a couple of movies via renting them from ITunes:
- Hunt for the Wilderpeople: Oh my god, this movie is amazing. If you watch the trailer, you’ll know immediately if you like it or not, as the movie is basically this but fleshed out into the full story:
The director, Taika Waititi, is the same guy who made Thor: Ragnarok and What We Do In The Shadows, which I’d previously raved about. He’s got a wonderful sense of humor and tells a story with such a great wit. I don’t want to go too much further in describing the plot, but the kid in the movie, Ricky Baker (played by Julian Dennison), is hilarious, and Sam Neill as Uncle Hector is wonderful. Just, go, rent this movie. It’s SOOO good.
- Hearts Beat Loud. This is a cute independent movie about a Brooklyn record store owner who makes a great song with his college-bound daughter, and the resulting path of whether they continue to do this at the expense of his daughter no longer going to college. It’s a small story with a lot of great actors and good performances, and the music is very good. I don’t know if I loved the movie? It was cute for what it is, and the trailer below helps give you a sense of what to expect. Nick Offerman can get it though – he’s a good looking guy in this hipster-y makeover.
- The Spy Who Dumped Me. I really wanted to like this more than I did. Coming from someone who still actively adores the movie Spy, this looked to be exactly in that same sweet spot and it has two actresses, Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon, that I love as well. But man, this was not it. It had moments that were fun, and a ridiculously hot guy in the form of Sam Heughan, but just something didn’t feel pulled together about it. Glad it was a rental!
Before I end this post, I had to post some posters I saved from the upcoming Godzilla: King of the Monsters movie. Have you SEEN these trailers???? I need this movie in my bloodstream it looks so goddamn good:
Just make it Spring 2019 already. Godzilla and King Ghidorah battling it out?????? Rodan fucking shit up??? Mothra all peaceful then throwing down???? GHIDORAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! Just…too much. It’s by far the movie I’m looking forward to the most this summer. So exciting. Anyway, I love these posters they made:
Anyway, that’s a long enough post for the end of the year. As I mentioned at the beginning, 2018 was a shit year for all the reasons that you can think of. I NEED 2019 to be better.
I won’t lie – the last two weeks have been hard. I’ve been having to travel for work and while of course when one hears where I went, they probably think I’m a little bitch because oh boo hoo, I had to go to great places. But the fact that I had to leave Larry (even though he had amazing support from friends and family while I was out) was ridiculously hard to deal with. Then the travel was all about work, but when you’re traveling for work, it’s very difficult to not fall behind on the regular work stuff you’re also responsible for doing. So yeah, it has been a relief to be at this point and know that I am back to a regular kind of schedule.
It wouldn’t be me though if I hadn’t taken pictures while out and about! So let’s start from long ago and work our way back to drywall. It’ll make sense once you see the pictures.
Larry started his 4th round of chemo back on Monday, August 27th. It was another round of the FolFoxIri + Avastin, which is the max approach we can take at this point. I then was leaving to go to Mexico City on Tuesday. EEK. Larry wasn’t on his own though, as my mom was able to help take him on Wednesday for unplugging the chemo port, and Nicki also came by on Tuesday night to keep him company. It was a relief to know he was in good hands.
I went to Mexico City to help with training up PwC Mexico folks on our code review template and to also, and more specifically why I was there, to give an introductory crash course on COBOL. Yep, what was my life for 16 months in 2016 and 2017 is now part of what I’m known for here at PwC. Good times! 🙂 I was slightly nervous about the whole ‘going to Mexico’ thing, but I managed. Uber is prevalent in Mexico City just like nearly everywhere else in the world; my experiences from Puerto Rico also had me prepared for what to expect, as just like there, there’s plenty of the regular, non-touristy areas where people live as well as the more haute-touty places. While during the day of Tuesday and Wednesday were spent at PwC Mexico, the evenings were good for enjoying the area. My coworker who was there with me is Mexican and knew the area, so we had good ideas for where to go. The first night, we went to a good restaurant right nearby, but on the second/last night, we got to go into historical Mexico City’s Zocalo, the city center. It’s where you see James Bond in the beginning of Spectre – and it’s pretty damn great.
Mexico City, Aug 28-30, 2018
I was very very happy to get home though – which was Thursday night. And god bless Global Entry – I was able to get right through customs without much fuss at all. But leaving LAX on a Thursday evening is awful any time of the year, but worse before a holiday weekend. I got home finally but I was exhausted. Obviously Larry wasn’t feeling all that great himself, and in this case, one of the side effects of his chemo was causing him a lot of discomfort. We had been trying to rig some solutions using OTC medicines but it really wasn’t doing much to help, regrettably. Spoiler alert: Larry was able to call the wonderful GI doctor (Dr Fisher) and get prescribed something that has drastically reduced his discomfort. It’s not entirely gone, but to say that it’s so much better for Larry is entirely accurate.
Anyway, let’s talk Labor Day weekend. We had originally been going to go to the Hollywood Bowl to see John Williams’ concert, along with my mom. But Larry’s discomfort basically meant we weren’t going to be leaving home this weekend for that kind of excursion. It sucked, but Nicki and Rekha reached out to see if we wanted some company so they came over and brought delicious food from All’Acqua (which is a great Italian place in Atwater Village). That evening, in addition to food, I got them to play Jenga with me, so yay!
Nicki & Rekha Cheer Us Up w/ Jenga, Sat, Sep 1, 2018
On Sunday, we again mostly just hung out at home and watched The Crown and relaxed. It was nice.
Then on Monday (Labor Day), Nicki & Rekha came back over to enjoy our apartment’s pool complex, which is a very nice thing to have. We not only enjoyed the pool, but managed to snag one of the cabanas. It was a nice way to spend the day.
Labor Day Cabana Fun, Mon, Sep 3, 2018
Jetting off yet again on Tuesday, I went to Orlando for PwC’s Risk Assurance leadership conference. This was a trip that had been scheduled for quite a while, and at one point (pre-diagnosis), I think it was something Larry & I had considered maybe him going on too so we could spend some time at Disney World. That didn’t happen obviously. It was a good conference though and I got to spend some time with current friends and connect with new people too. Always about the networking in this company. Like I said before, Larry ended up getting some medicine to help with his side effects while I was gone this time, but when I left it was definitely not a resolved issue. Happily, by Tuesday evening, he was feeling better. So yay for victories where we can take them.
So while I was in Orlando, we really only got one evening of pretty awesome fun – we were going to get a dinner in EPCOT center and then time to ourselves in the park! Not a lot of time (<2 hours, actually) but still, this was my first time ever at a Florida Disney park so I was gonna take advantage of it. Larry gave me the heads up on what rides were worth it in EPCOT so I had my marching orders. A few others of my friends were on board for this too, so off we went! Basically from our event space by the UK area of EPCOT, we headed straight to Spaceship Earth, which is within the famous geodesic sphere. It’s a slow ride that drives you through the world of communication and how it’s evolved over 30k years. It’s pretty great, to be honest. It’s also cool to be inside the sphere! After that, it was over to Test Track, and let’s just say that this ride is the shit. It’s clearly a forerunner to Radiator Springs Racers in California Adventure, and possibly even more fun? Finally, we ramped up the intensity for the last ride, Mission: Space, and geeeez, it’s a rough one. It’s a G-Force simulator and fucking wrecks you. It’s still a fun experience, but next time, I’ll take the less intense alternatives, which do exist!
PwC & Epcot Center, Wed, Sep 5, 2018
Again, it was wonderful to be back home after this trip, especially knowing it was the last one for hopefully a while.
This weekend has been good – our house has drywall up!! It’s actually been a few weeks since we heard that process started, so waiting a few weeks means it’s all up now. It’s very exciting – within the next few weeks, cabinetry will be going in. Yay!
Drywall! Sat, Sep 8, 2018
I’ve been pretty bad at updating, as is my way. So I’ll try to rectify that here, with some pictures and general “here’s how it’s been going” updates. Long story short though, Larry has been doing pretty damn great during Rounds 2 & 3 of chemo.
A brief update on the chemo story: For Rounds 1 & 2 of his chemo, we were doing a “doublet” chemo treatment called Folfox. I’ve linked to a site that kind of explains it so I don’t have to get into the weeds. This treatment approach is the typical standard one for colorectal cancers, and so that’s what our oncologist recommended. The goal though was to see how Larry took to these and if the side effects were going to be too much. Because his port surgery was still within 4 weeks, we did not do the +Avastin though, as that is the drug that inhibits capillary growth, to stop both cancer cells from building out but also good stuff, so healing Larry’s surgery scars would have been impeded. But we did Folfox for the first 2 rounds and while he definitely did experience neuropathy as expected, and of course fatigue and occasional nausea, it wasn’t anything we couldn’t manage. And by the time each 2nd week came around, Larry felt pretty good. So by the time it came time for Round 3, the onocologist (Dr Arzoo, who is an amazing man and doctor) let Larry decide if he wanted to increase the treatment potency. There is a “triplet” chemo treatment that has been shown to be very effective too, Folfoxiri. It’s more aggressive and comes with heightened side effects, namely much more diarrhea. Dr Arzoo was supportive if we were wanting to go for this, and after some consideration, Larry was on board. It definitely adds more time to the chemotherapy process on Monday, and the neuropathy seems to be heightened, but the dreaded constant diarrhea really didn’t manifest for Larry. He’s been actually doing pretty good during this Round, which is certainly hopeful for us. Really hoping that will remain the case as we go into Round 4 tomorrow. All thoughts and good vibes are appreciated!
Here are some pictures from Round 2, on July 30, 2018
Why don’t I have pictures from Round 3 two weeks later? Well, that’s because Fran came in to spend some time with her boy! Only one visitor is allowed at a time, so I stayed home while she went in for the Round 3 super dose. I had told her that it wasn’t such a long day, but Folfoxiri + Avastin does take a long time, so my bad! I’ll get to be there for the long day tomorrow. Anyway, before she accompanied Larry on that Monday, we picked her up on the Sunday before from LAX. Taking advantage of the fact that we don’t typically spend much time on the West Side anymore, we planned an outing to the Century City mall – and went to Eataly for lunch!
Eataly @ Century City on Aug 12, 2018:
As far as other stuff that happened since, here are some pictures and stuff! One of the things Larry & I saw at the Hollywood Bowl was a live performance of Annie – which was amazing. Much like Mamma Mia last year, it’s basically putting on the Broadway show but keeping the sets from being too over the top. In both of these cases, the sets actually were pretty flexible in that they took advantage of rotating sets to great effect. In Annie, the letters themselves were able to be used as various locations by rotating them around to show they were hollow and had sets in them. AWESOME. The cast of Annie, especially the lead and then the celebrity cast that filled in the other main starring roles, were all amazing. Ana Gasteyer was great as Mrs. Hannigan as was David Alan Grier as Daddy Warbucks. The girl who played Annie was fantastic. I love the songs too, and they didn’t disappoint with numbers like “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile”, “Tomorrow”, and “Maybe” (and everything else, of course).
Annie @ the Hollywood Bowl, July 28, 2018
Early this month, Larry & I went back to the Glen to see how our house was coming along. No drywall up (although we have heard that has started this week!) but we got to see that all the electrical and plumbing is in, as are all the windows, and a lot of the clutter on the floors was gone, so it was much easier to walk around and imagine the future.
The Glen LA, Aug 5, 2018
The day before Fran arrived in town, Larry, my mom, and I went to the Hollywood Bowl to go watch The Empire Strikes Back accompanied by the Hollywood Bowl orchestra. It’s a phenomenal movie and has one of the more iconic soundtracks – obviously it’s the movie that first used the Imperial March, but it also has such great themes such as the love theme and the stupendous Asteroid theme. It was a pleasure to hear it play out live. Plus there were so many lightsabers in play it was a joy to see them all come out when certain actions or musical moments came on, notably when the Imperial March played.
The Empire Strikes Back @ the Hollywood Bowl, Aug 11, 2018
I have been working basically from home while Larry is going through this. With the stuff I’ve been working on lately, that’s been an option. I do go in occasionally though just to make sure people see me or when others let me know they’ll be in. In this case, my ex-work wife Barb let me know she was going to be downtown one day AND she wanted to take me to lunch! How could I refuse that offer? Fran took Larry duty (I kid, honestly – he doesn’t need such attention) and I went in and met her at her new office neighborhood and she then surprised me by saying we were going to 71 Above, the restaurant which resides at the top of the US Bank building. It was spectacular, and since we got there around 11:45am, we beat the rush and got window seats. It’s kind of nuts. The food was fantastic, and I definitely appreciated her generosity!
Lunch w/ Barb @ 71 Above, Aug 16, 2018
It’s been a blur though, to be honest. I can’t believe we’re on to Round 4 tomorrow, and that Fran has come and gone already. There was fun to be had, as we did go and see Crazy Rich Asians which was awesome (go see it), we’d go for walks to keep Larry active, made dinners at home, Fran and I drank wine, she’d watch a lot of her British Netflix shows, and overall it was just an easy time, thankfully. So here’s hoping the good vibes continue. We’d love to learn that the chemo is doing its job, but we won’t know how well it’s working for a little bit longer. Dr Arzoo has mentioned we’ll test levels after Round 6. In the meantime, positivity and confidence it’s all working out are the order for the day. In random news, I’m in love with this mop I saw at Bed Bath & Beyond:
I got it and I used it yesterday at home and never again will I use those stupid Swiffer Wet Jet things. Such a waste of paper and resources those things are. This mop has a built-in spinner function to help you both wash the mop head and then a salad-spinner thing that helps you rinse off excess water before using it. I’m sad to report that our floors were filthy, but damn if they’re not clean now!