Monday, November 7, 2016

Cancer With A Cold

This is the first time I've been sick since I've been sick. I mean, it's the first time I've had a cold or some kind of bug since I was diagnosed with cancer. It's not fun, and it's made worse by the rehearsal schedule I've committed to. In fact, I have to make this post short, or my wife will start telling me to get back in bed.

I've always been able to get over colds quickly, within two or three days. I attribute this to the fact that, for most of my adult life, as a self employed musician, I didn't have health insurance. So I didn't go running to the doctor every time I had a sniffle, and therefore, have not been taking antibiotics my whole life. I really believe that antibiotics, while sometimes necessary, if taken repeatedly over a course of many years, beat down our body's ability to heal itself.

When I would come down with a cold, I've had a regimen for many years that's worked for me. In the 1980's, when I was going to a walk-in clinic when I needed to see a doctor, a physician I saw there advised me to overload on Vitamin C to ward off a cold. He told me to take 1,000 milligrams four times a day. That worked pretty well for me for a period of years, but then I learned about echinacea in the 1990's. Since then, when I feel a cold coming on, or I'm trying to recover from one, I take my 1,000 milligram capsule of Vitamin C (Natural C, never synthetic, with rose hips - who knew roses had hips?) with an eyedropper full of echinacea drops in a glass of water four times a day: Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and before I go to bed. A few days of doing that, plus sleeping with a vaporizer in a closed room when needed, would knock a cold out of me in just a few days, or keep one from gaining a foothold, while my friends who had been taking antibiotics for their whole lives had their coughs and colds hang on for weeks.

But that was before I got cancer. I've wondered since I was diagnosed what would happen if I caught a cold or flu. God forbid I get the flu. That's why I got a flu shot. Will Lupron and Xtandi, by making my body weaker, make the recovery time from a cold longer? Could I get an infection that sends me to the hospital? Is my immune system compromised from hormone treatment?

In my last post, I talked about an upcoming rehearsal, and how important the performance it was for is to me. That rehearsal was last Saturday. If we are Facebook friends, you may have seen a video from it that I posted yesterday morning. I could feel this crud coming on beforehand, but I powered through the rehearsal as best I could. My voice wasn't full strength, but it was good enough to get through this important rehearsal. This one wasn't quite as long as the last, but it still went for five hours. I ended up having to shut it down during a third run-through of the closing medley. After the fifth or sixth run to the Kleenex box in a few minutes, I said, "I gotta call it. The crud's taking over." And since then, it has.

Even when relatively healthy, I'd expect to need a recovery day or two after a rehearsal like that. What I didn't take into account is that the effort to fight off this cold would would fail spectacularly because of having run myself down the way I did. I couldn't go to church yesterday, and I had to cancel a vocal rehearsal tonight because I'm still too sick. I don't want to infect my friends. I'm afraid I may have already done that on Saturday, though I certainly hope not.

I'm better today than I was yesterday. I'm hoping that two days of rest and keeping to my regimen - along with another herbal remedy recommended by a friend - will get me back to full strength in time for the next rehearsal on Wednesday. I also have an appointment set for an IV treatment of Vitamin C and Zinc tomorrow morning. If all these measures don't get me well enough to rehearse two days from now, this final big performance of my career is in jeopardy, as I said in an earlier post.

Last Friday night at dinner, a dear friend told me to take it easy on Saturday. She asked what would happen if I had to cut this performance down or cancel it. I tried to communicate to her how important this is to me, and how I'm willing to pay whatever price is necessary to see it through. If you watch the video of that rehearsal, you can see how much this energizes me. So taking it easy is not an option.

I have a mantra with the kids I'm helping to coach: Practice like you play. Practice with the same intensity and enthusiasm as though you're in front of an audience. Practice like you play, or else you'll end up playing like you practice. That's what I've always done. It's the only way I know how. Like a puppy, I have two speeds: Stop and Go. In a rehearsal for something this precious to me, there is no Take It Easy. There's only Full Speed Ahead.

I'm almost afraid of the advice I'll get from all of you. Slow down. Take care of yourself. Try this cold remedy. I really appreciate that you care, but this is something I have to do. I just wish I didn't have to try to do it with a cold. Or with cancer.

But if not for cancer, I wouldn't be doing this much. That's the irony. It's the Sense Of Urgency that I have now that pushes me. I don't know if I'll be able to do something this big next year. I'll only be weaker, and maybe in pain. As I told my friend on Friday when she asked what would happen if I couldn't go through with this performance, I told her I'd regret it for the rest of my life, however long that is. If I lose a little time on the back end because I pushed myself so hard now, so be it. At least I will have done what I love, and what I was born to do, one last time.

It stinks having a cold, even without cancer. With cancer, it's worse. But hopefully, not that much worse for me. I don't think I'm likely to get an infection that sends me to the hospital, because I haven't had chemo to compromise my immune system. Yet another reason not to do chemo.

I need your prayers now more than ever. I need to kick this thing fast so I can be ready for the next rehearsal, and my last big public performance. Thank you for your continued support and prayers. They are needed, and they are felt. #waroncancer

1 comment:

  1. I responded once, but it wouldn't post. I'll try to remember what I wrote!

    Dearest Mark and Sharon,
    First, I'm sorry about the stinks, but! I'm on Sharon's team right now. Sharon is going to try, like any loving partner in crime, to do what's best and make it better!, it's how we're wired!, chicken soup and Vicks!
    I had this bug, it lasted 3 weeks and then rebounded and hit again, albeit for a shorter run. I'm not alone in this, many have said the same. Many were on abx because of secondary sinus or upper respiratory infections. Btw, not just in MI, but other parts of the Country. So you do have to watch this and stay on top of it.

    Second: you know my situation, I can understand this frustration. My IgG is now hovering around 425 (600 is minimal), I'm officially immunocompromised. Because of true issues with immunotherapy, my Doctors and I agree that no treatment may be the best treatment. Like you, I have those who disagree. This chronic condition sucks the joy out of your soul and leaves you with little to combat that.

    Next. This past weekend was glorious, and I don't just mean the weather! For various reasons, I felt great...alive! I woke up and eagerly, excitedly, looked forward to the day, the whole weekend in fact! I got more done on a Saturday than maybe in October! ( obvious exaggeration..but it felt like it!).
    It was like being reborn. Doing something I used to love. Thanking God for this respite!

    So where does this lead us?, what's my point? Mark, this can be a serious bug, so you do have to watch it, allow Sharon to do what she knows is best, and yes, rest. Not doing so will definitely deep six your plans.

    About your plans. Do not stop!, and unless impossible, continue to prepare for your performance! This is a glorious moment for you, this is vital to your well being, so do not announce it as DOA, but doable. Understand that you may have to adjust, but adjusting is the storyline now.

    I'm looking forward to another video, where your passion comes through and touches us all!, but remember that even without cancer, this can be a tough bug to battle, so take care and move forward.