7/16/2016

Author’s note:  This is a recollection of my events from a year ago.  There is no need to panic.

It is Saturday morning and I wake up still feeling nauseous.  I have a complete lack of appetite but I force myself to go to McDonalds and get two Egg McMuffins.  I can only eat one of them and throw the other away.  The rest of my day is spent in the recliner watching TV as I feel miserable.  Kelly reminds me that I made a promise to go to the ER.  At around 6:00 in the evening I finally shower for the day and go.

Instead of going to the hospital I go to the emergency room around the corner.  Other people refer to it as a “doc in a box.”  It is the first time I have been in the emergency room since I broke my ankle twenty-five years earlier.  The place is nearly empty with only one other patient and their family member attending.  It’s quiet but the staff are friendly.

I explain my symptoms to them.  My weight has dropped into the 150s, I occasionally vomit, feel nauseous frequently and have no appetite.  They are going to run a CAT scan on me.  I spend most of the night messing with my phone waiting for the results.

At nearly midnight they give me the news – they have found a mass in my pancreas.  They want to call an ambulance but I tell them I can drive there.  Orders are sent to Baylor Scott White down the street from me for a direct admission.  I thank them, pay the co-pay and leave.  Instead of going to the hospital I stop at the house first and grab my laptop bag.  I can’t remember if I pack a bag or not.  I may have asked Kelly to do this later on.  I also can’t remember if I told Kelly then or waited until morning.  I likely waited until morning.

I drive myself to the hospital and admit myself to emergency.  It is as eerily quiet as the doc in the box was.  The paperwork is in order and I can go straight to my room.  I am offered a wheelchair but I decline.  I also meet briefly with the doctor working.  This is the first time I have ever stayed overnight in a hospital.

7/15/2016

Author’s note:  This is a recollection of my events from a year ago.  There is no need to panic.

It is moving day and I have no choice but to go into the office.  I have already called in sick twice this week and would feel extremely guilty if I call in a third day.  But this is the last day we are in this office before we move down to Knox Henderson.

Something is very wrong with me.  I have been vomiting on average of about once per month.  I feel fatigue and nausea all the time.  When I was in New York City a couple of months earlier I visited some friends that lived there.  They were dismayed that I wanted nothing to eat or drink for dinner.  I simply had no appetite and the thought of eating is unappealing.  But I don’t like the way my stools look and I suspect that I might have pancreatitis.

But we have to move out of our old office on Forest Lane then wait a couple of weeks before our new office opens.  I am late to work regardless.  I show up at 11:00, grabbing a prepackaged snack of crackers, turkey, cheese and grapes from Tom Thumb on the way.  I slowly force myself to eat them.

The RD asks how I feel and I tell him.  He seems sympathetic.  I still very slowly and gingerly pack up all the stuff from my cubicle.

Kelly has been nagging me to go to the doctor.  I promise her that if I feel this bad by tomorrow I will actually do it.  I am unaware that I would spend ten days out of the next two weeks in the hospital.

Rule #1 Make the Most of Your Day

zombieland

If you have never seen the movie Zombieland stop what you are doing and go see it right now.  It is the best zombie comedy movie ever made.  After you have seen it come back to this post.

For those of you who have seen it then you might get the reference going forward.  In the movie our hero Columbus has a list of rules that he lives by during the zombie apocalypse.  I decided to make my own list of rules for dealing with cancer.  There is only one rule so far so consider it a work in progress.

Rule#1 Make the Most of Your Day

You will have good days and you will have bad days.  When you have a good day appreciate it fully.  Don’t take a good day for granted.

When I say “make the most of your day” I don’t have the expectation that I am going to build a rocket ship, broker peace in the Middle East or even cure cancer.  But I am going to do something constructive with my day, whether it is going to be work or personal.  Even with the personal I am going to find something fulfilling or, at the very least, entertaining.  It doesn’t have the be monumental but set a goal, even a small one, and work to accomplish.

This is going to be more important to do on the bad days.  You will have complications from chemotherapy or the cancer that will feel like a set back.  Still try to accomplish something.  You need to keep yourself grounded with a purpose that keeps you moving forward.

Saturday Morning at the Lake

Lake

It is actually Saturday morning as I write.  I will likely post tomorrow or Monday.  Never just write and hit publish.  Write, edit, let it marinate then rewrite and edit again.

I am here for the wedding of a couple of friends, Amanda and Randy.  As of right now the sky is cloudy and the lake is covered with light layer of fog.  I woke up early at 6:00 and sat on the balcony watching the peace surrounding me.  Birds were singing and deer quietly traipsed in the woods below.  I anticipated a lake full of boats this morning but they were very infrequent.  When they did motor by they interrupted the serenity.  By the time the sun comes out this afternoon I anticipate a traffic jam of boats but the wedding I attend should be picturesque.

I haven’t written anything in a couple of months.  Call it a sabbatical.  I was doing too much at once and needed to take a step back from everything.   Back in March I brought my laptop into the bar and after opening it I dreaded typing the next word.  In my real world job of software sales I work ten to twelve hour days.  In the corporate world you don’t ever really get a day off.  Instead, your PTO is used to buy time before you have to respond to somebody.  Last month I was in Las Vegas with friends and I did two back to back conference calls at 7:30 in the morning.  But work is necessary because, as I stated earlier, work = healthcare = survival.  In addition to the a sequel of my novel I started writing a second.  And then I have this blog as well as social media to keep up with (Twitter still baffles me).  Oh, and lets not forget the ongoing treatment for pancreatic cancer.

fallout4

So I just stopped everything I was doing and played Fallout 4 for the last couple of months.  It’s not that I have writers block.  I definitely have stories in my head that want to get out.  Just that the act of sitting down and writing is time consuming work.  After working a ten hour work day I am loathed to sit down and pound on a keyboard for another hour or two.

hermarglerbern

My cancer treatment continues.  We have run through the first course of chemotherapy.  Now something called Lanreocide has been added to the mix.  It is supposed to starve the tumors from the hormones that are feeding it.  The doctor said most people want a break from chemo at this point but I seem to be holding up well.  The primary concern with side effects seem to be anemia.  My hemoglobin is a concern.  It is down to 8.1 and iron supplements don’t seem to be helping.  That walk from the party barge uphill to the resort pretty much kicked my ass last night.  For the next round of chemo (#18) I anticipate a bag of iron sucrose as black as Satan’s blood.

My last two months have been pretty quiet.  I really dialed down everything and kept to myself a bit (aside from that trip to Vegas).  I can’t stay too idle for long.  While the physical tasks of living becomes more challenging with fatigue my mind is as active as ever and I can feel that urge to do more.  Maybe it is time for me to step up again?

Kindness

Kindness

Everything changes (well, according to Fallout war never changes, but I digress).  Some of us embrace the change.  Most resist.  For those that resist the change it is because they fear what change will bring them.  If they believe everything they know has always been good then the change, whatever the change may be, threatens what they know so they resist it.

I first became aware of how resistant people are to change as early as high school.  I remember some of the popular kids in high school couldn’t handle the change when they went to college.  In high school, they were a big deal.  In college they discovered they were just like everyone else.  For a few of those folks it was such a blow to their ego that they dropped out, went back home and relished in the popularity they already knew.  I still see that resistance to change even today when my peers from high school and college insist that the only good music came before 1990 and nothing good has been released since then.
Rather than resist change I embrace it or, in the case of something bad happening, adapt to it.  It wasn’t an “Eureka” moment that I had overnight.  It was a gradual process of learning things about myself as well as the people around me.  For the longest time in life I was angry and felt I had been treated unfairly.  Then I let it all go.  If I were to put a date on this I would say this happened when I turned forty.  Once I let go of all the anger I had more confidence in myself and the opinions of others didn’t matter.  That is not to say I stopped putting value in the opinions of friends.  I took stock in who those friends were (and who they were not) and placed value accordingly.  That is a very elaborate way of saying the opinions of most people don’t matter.
One of the things I have learned since I turned forty and especially in the past year is the value of kindness.  When I was hospitalized last summer I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support that I received.  And “overwhelmed” is an understatement.  It was a very confusing time and I didn’t fully comprehend everything that was going on with me.  Everyone was kind and generous with me and it reinforced the value of kindness to give to people in return.  It costs you nothing to be kind to other people.  I strive to be kind in some way everyday.  If people want to resist that is on them, you have done your part.
That is not to say that you have to be a pushover.  There are always going to be people who will take advantage of kindness.  Sometimes you will have to cut those people out of your life or hold your ground with them.
But for the most part kindness will be met with kindness.

Finding Time

finding time.JPG

Finding time to write this blog has been a challenge.  It’s not that I don’t want to do, it is because I am usually busy with a lot of things all simultaneously.  Work takes up most of my time.  If I could only be as famous as Stephen King and write full time?  But, alas, I cannot.  I usually get here at 7:00 in the morning then put in a ten hour day while I work at my desk through lunch.  Then I need to find time to write on my newest novel. And I have to find time to write this blog.  Plus I still need to take time to receive chemotherapy but I admit that chemotherapy is kind of a big deal for me.  I am still at a loss as to how to market myself.

The last several weeks have been especially busy.  Last month the company I work for had their National Sales Kickoff in Cancun.  Everyone in the office was excited!  Free vacation!  WOOT!  But, sadly, they are not experienced in the ways of company travel.  If our company was paying for everyone from the northernmost wilds of Canada to the southern tip of Chile to go to Cancun it was not for the drinks and fun in the sun.  I have experienced work conferences and I already knew what to expect.  We started at 7:00 AM everyday (8:00 if you wanted to skip breakfast) and went on until 5:00 or 6:00 in the afternoon.  Then it was a work sponsored event of some sort until 9:00 or 10:00 in the evening.  In the meanwhile we had to keep up with our normal work.  Kudos to the kids who managed to keep the schedule and still take advantage of the drinks at the all inclusive resort.

After we came back I had to spend time catching up from the work I fell behind on while going through my tenth round of chemo.

And then I attended publisher training earlier this month while fighting nausea from that round of chemo.

Busy!

Today I just finished my thirteenth round of chemotherapy.   I still manage to keep perspective in all this through a simple equation –

Work = Health Insurance = Survival

See how that works?  😀

The State of Karnes Address 2017

new-year

It is totally like me to start a blog and then abandon it for a couple of months.  But I have a good excuse, I swear.  I was busy.  Like, really busy.  My grown up job is a licensing solution professional for a global software reseller.  That’s quite a mouthful.  To put it in layman’s terms I manage publisher relationships for my company.  I do quite a bit of management so it keeps me busy.  An apt analogy would be the dude at the carnival who is spinning plates to entertain you.

spinning-plates

I spent the last two months completing certifications for one of my publisher lines and trying to close as much business for the year.  My sales year was iffy but those certifications are done.

I continue my treatment for cancer.  My eighth round of chemo was completed last week and I have a ninth round scheduled the first week of February.  Additionally, I had another CT scan.  It looks like chemotherapy is going to be an integral part of my life during 2017.  That’s okay because I am not quitting.

Back when I was in my twenties I used to buy the whole “new year, new you” thing.  It is easy to fall into that trap.  You have a bad year, blame it on fate, the stars, global warming or Hare Krishnas then declare that the next year was going to be TOTALLY different.  But I am older and wiser now.  There is no such thing as a “new year, new you.”  You are still the same you.  You are the sum total of every experience you have ever had.  You can make the choice to learn and grow from those experiences or you can stew in self-doubt and complain that the world is against you.

I don’t have have the perfect life by any means but I have more things going right than wrong.  Well, I have cancer so that is a big negative, but I don’t let it define everything about me as a person.  I still feel like I have a good life and take advantage of it at every opportunity.  Even with every bad thing that is going on personally and in the world I find a reason to laugh everyday.

Still, there is nothing wrong with having goals for the new year and I have them.  My writing has fallen by the wayside for the last couple of months (busy, remember?).  I am writing the sequel to One Nation and hope to have the rough draft completed by the end of spring.  Also, I need to open more distribution channels for One Nation (like iTunes, Google and Goodreads).  And, for the life of me, I need to figure out how to market myself better.

So what are your plans for the year?

 

The First Post

This is the post excerpt.

thefirstpost
Consider this a work in progress.  Not that I am unfamiliar with blogs.  I have written them before although it has admittedly been awhile.  I have had blogs off and on since 2003 but they were hidden from most prying eyes and posted quite anonymously.  Can I tell a good story?  Only you, the reader, can judge.  Regardless, I do have stories to tell.

What prompted me to write another blog (is this the fourth or fifth now?  I have lost count) is that I self published a book earlier this year.  My book “One Nation” is available on Amazon and I encourage everyone to buy a copy.  I also need to learn more about marketing strategies.  I thought I was well armed with marketing knowledge based on my few experiences in the corporate world but that turned out not to be the case.

So here I sit at my local bar in Plano, Texas writing my first blog post on a WordPress account I created just a few minutes ago.  This bar has been crazy all day about the Texas-OU game (spoiler alert – Texas lost).  While everyone is engaged in the game I have spent the day here writing, researching and now blogging.  Believe it or not I can concentrate easier in this surrounding chaos than I can at home.

What about me?  I have spent the last sixteen years in the corporate reseller industry (the first two in computer hardware and the lastfourteen in software).  In 2013 I was dissatisfied with work and where it was going and decided to make a change.  I have been writing on and off since I was a kid.  I enjoy telling stories and decided that I could write and self-publish my own book.  That was how “One Nation” was born.

I was watching the news three years ago when someone opined that the the next president who would be elected would be the most hated president in history.  I thought long and hard about that.  We have never been so divided than we are right now.  I imagined an America where we want to give up so many of our freedoms and seek to be taken care of by our political masters.  I conceived of a tumultuous 2016 election that leads to a Second American Revolution and the rise of the fascist Freedom Party.  The Trump and Clinton candidacies only help reinforce my predictions.

My book was released in May and I have been struggling with marketing since then.  I have gotten good feedback from my readers who have been surprised that I can actually write and tell a story.

I have also had other struggles this year as well.  My “day job” keeps me busy.  I am working a lot having to manage several security product lines.  I had a breakup with a girlfriend earlier this year who I am still very fond of.  We are still friendly to one another and she has been somewhat supportive from afar.  The biggest struggle has been since mid-summer.  In July I was admitted to the hospital for persistent nausea and lack of appetite.  I had lost ten pounds in the space of a week.  It turned out that the CT scan revealed tumors in my pancreas and liver.  I was diagnosed with stage two endocrine pancreatic cancer.  I started chemotherapy almost immediately and will continue through the end of the year.  This, along with diabetes, severely complicates my health.  I am very well aware that I have a foreseeable expiration date.  Rather than letting it get me down it motivates me instead.  I feel like I need to get everything done.

Despite everything that has occurred this year I still feel good about things.  When people ask how I deal with cancer I tell them with action plans.  I know I have cancer, I need a plan to combat it, I will follow the plan and if something changes I will revise the plan.  In the meantime I am going to keep doing everything I need to do to with that ever present expiration date well in mind.

This post was meant to be quick and dirty.  I wanted to get something up quickly.  Please forgive me if you see any typos or misspellings.  And remember, this is a learning process for me.  I have to get used to Word Press. 🙂