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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Check out this site -- it's worth the click

A few weeks ago I was asked to write an essay for a wonderful Web site that focuses on survivors of cancer, in all its many forms.

My essay was published today. The site is, and I encourage everyone to check it out not just today, but everyday.

That's because each day, site manager Lynn Lane posts another story by another survivor. Lynn, a documentary filmmaker, also records these tales visually on video. These also are available on the site.

So please give Lynn's site a read. And if you have any comments, I'm sure he'd love to hear them.

A little Botox goes a long way

Well, I'm back on solid food -- thank goodness for that -- and breathing a sigh of relief after may endoscopic exam yesterday, July 20.

Dr. Phillip Styne and his crack team of nurses, assistants, anesthesiologists and aides at Florida Hospital Orlando injected a dose of Botox into my pyloric valve, also known as the pylorus, to make it easier for me to digest food.

It was kind of quirky because I was taken into the procedure room at 1:19 p.m. Monday but Dr. Styne couldn't do the procedure yet -- the Botox hadn't yet arrived from the hospital's pharmacy.

I was slightly doped up on anesthesia when the doctor told the nurse anesthesthetist to hold off on fully loading me up. I had the mouthpiece in place for the endoscopic tube to be used, and I was allowed to remove it until the drug arrived. (Good thing, because I was drooling a little; sorry if that's tmi.)

One of the nurses joked that if there's extra they could use it elsewhere if I wanted.

Then folks started getting a little peeved at the pharmacy. I even offered to phone down and complain that 'I'm here lying on the gurney, the the stuff up here!' But a few minutes later, it arrived and about 1:32, if I recall correctly, I went lights out.

I woke up about 20-25 minutes later in the recovery room with Catherine in attendance. She'd already spoken with Dr. Styne, who said all went well. (She even snapped a photo or two of me unconscious. Tweeters can find my images on Twitter if you search for my live-at-the-time tweets under #endoscope.)

I'm adding the above photo here as a sample.

So in the end, all went well, the Botox seems to be working, I'm eating again -- though being a bit gentler with my dining -- and as I tell people all the time I'm happy to be here.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

There's always room for Jell-o

I'm on Day 2 of a three-day clear-liquid diet leading up to an endoscopic sojourn down my gullet by Dr. Phillip Styne on Monday afternoon.

This means soup, Jell-o and water. It's pretty bad that Jell-o is about as solid a food as I can consume. (Kind of a glimpse into the future if I don't keep my teeth in good order.)

Dr. Styne thought I'd be able to make it to January without needing another endoscopy, but I missed by several months because I think my pyloric valve, known as the pylorus, isn't cooperating.

In simple terms, the pylorus opens to let food travel from the stomach (in my case, what is left of the stomach) into the intestines. (More at Because of the surgery to my stomach to replace by cancerous esophagus, nerves were severed that control the pylorus and other aspects of the stomach's function.

So, Dr. Styne & Co., will use his endoscopic device to peer into my stomach and see if the pylorus isn't opening as it should. If so, he'll inject Botox into the valve to deaden some of the nerves keeping it closed. This should open it up, hopefully for good.

I'll Twitter from Florida Hospital on Monday, but I don't think the good doc will let me bring the phone into the procedure room. Besides, I'll be on some good drugs and won't be able to spell my name -- or put a cohesive sentence together. (I can barely do that on a good day.)

But I will get a photo of the doc before the procedure. Styne is a good and decent man -- and one hell of a doctor.

So until then, I'll be swilling coffee sans cream; tea, both hot and iced; chicken noodle soup (yes, the doc says the noodles won't be an issue because they're quickly digested); and, of course, good old Jell-o.

After all, there's always room for Jell-o. Especially on the other side of my pylorus.