A goat’s bite is poison

“A goat’s bite is poison.”

My granddaddy used to say this on the farm. The last few months it’s been one goat bite after another. Nothing heinous. We’re not being mauled by bears. Just bite after bite after bite.

When Rich went for his immunotherapy treatment on May 6th, he called me and I could barely understand him. He had an allergic reaction to the treatment and it was making him convulse. He couldn’t even hold the phone. It passed in an hour and he was able to soldier his way home by midnight but it was very unpleasant. Bite.

But hey, we would just pre-treat with Bendadryl on the next visit and he should be fine. Except they did pre-treat and he still had a reaction yesterday. It wasn’t as bad, but he still spiked a fever, had the shakes pretty bad, and his heart started racing. At least he could use the phone this time. Bite.

Meanwhile, his flight was cancelled so I had to re-book him for a flight today. All he wanted to do was go home and instead he got to go to a hotel in the pouring rain. Bite.

The entire month of May, Rich has also been getting fevers every evening. Nothing extreme. 100F or less and they go away in three hours. But it’s every. Single. Night. Bite.

Rich’s shoulder is still frozen. He can touch the back of his head and reach his wallet now but he’s still a long way from swinging a sword or hockey stick. He still needs pain meds to sleep. Bite.

The pool pump died so we have a 27′ duck pond versus a pool right now. Bite.

On May 5th, during an attempted run in Georgetown I felt something go “pop!” in my right foot. After several trigger release therapy visits I’ve finally gone to the sports doctor. I have a partial tear in my plantar fascia so I have to wear a boot for three weeks and then do a month of physical therapy. Two more months before I can run again. Bite.

I came to work last Monday (the 18th) and my beta fish Bruce was in very bad shape. I spent an hour changing out the water in his tank and putting him in a fishy ICU. I almost flushed him at several points but he kept moving. I know he’s just a $10 fish, but I’ve really enjoyed his company since I got him in January and I was not looking forward to his demise. I worry about him every day. Bite.

I have paid $600 to EZPass (because it was cheaper than going to jail), $500 in car taxes, $600 in insulin pump supplies, and many other little random payments for things I don’t even remember. Between my shoulder and Rich’s foot, we’ve been paying $160 a week to the trigger release therapist. Nibble, nibble, bite.

Ian has been regularly sent to the office at pre-school for “not listening.” Some of it is legitimate obnoxious five-year-old behavior and some of it is just normal kid stuff. But I’m really tired of these super serious conversations with the principal about how he will perform next year in kindergarten if he’s climbing up the slide instead of sliding down it. Really. Don’t. Care.


I emailed Daddy to get confirmation on Granddaddy’s saying. I surmised the phrase was because the goat was relentless. I kept thinking of the analogy that a goat has been chomping away at us for a very long time.

But he wrote back and said he called it “persistence.” That gave me pause. All day I had been thinking of all these little injustices as the goat’s bite. Really, the goat is continually chomping away at little things to feed himself and survive. 

I got Rich first class tickets for his trip home today. Bite. 

Rich’s shoulder is healed enough that he can fight spear. That means he can fight at Pennsic. Bite. 

I found a replacement pool pump for $150 and it arrives Saturday. Bite. 

The boot is warm but it actually makes my foot feel better. And I still have plenty of time to train for my half marathon in November. Bite. 

Ever since that first day, Bruce the fish has been rallying and continues to swim around his little tank. Bite. 

We paid off the minivan this month and I’ve found several big ticket items to sell. Bite. 

Ian finished his last day at preschool on a high note and was hilarious and clever at the dentist this afternoon, including helping them take my x-rays. Bite. 

If we could find a goat to bite through belly slime, we’d be set. But we’ll just keep nibbling away at things with persistence. 

99 Problems

It’s been a long time since I’ve updated everyone on the status of Rich. In some ways that’s been because there hasn’t been a lot to report, and in some ways it’s because the things to report were not solely mine to tell.

Since January, Rich’s fistula has been behaving. It’s healed over on the outside with only a tiny dot of a scab. Not even a bandaid is necessary.

The section of his incision that I call the “lower wound” is still hanging out. The very bottom of his incision is still open. It’s about the size of a quarter and very deep, but hopefully will close. We just keep putting gauze on it twice a day to keep it clean. But no pool parties for Rich until at least July probably.

The horrible stomach cramps from reintroducing food have abated and most things are safe for Rich to eat. From a belly standpoint, he only has sporadic discomfort in the evenings. That part is pretty manageable.

But holy shit his shoulder. While in the army, Rich broke his right shoulder in several places and severely dislocated it. Hooray mandatory fun days of playing soccer with the Germans. It’s never been right since then and will regularly pop out of socket. That’s been the status quo for decades.

After lying in bed for six months, though, his shoulder got very angry. Also, he’s had to lie on his right side (with the bad shoulder) in order to get TPN at night. Very angry shoulder.

That has given him the range of motion of John McCain, which is to say almost none. In March, he started seeing my trigger release therapist Denise. She has done amazing things for him but it takes a lot of time for him to recover. He can only see her every 7-10 days to give his body time to heal. We were elated that after his first visit he could pat the top of his own head. But trying to swing a sword or hold a hockey stick is still excruciating.

As a man who identifies with his physical abilities, it’s hard when those are not possible. Rich has been depressed. He feels broken. It’s very frustrating. The stress he feels has been hard on everyone in the family.

Add to all this, for the last 10 days or so, Rich has had a low fever off and on. He had a Man Cold on Friday the 10th that seemed to get better over the weekend. But the fevers and the fatigue wear on him. He wants to do things in the evenings, but he feels run down so all he can manage is to lie on the couch with me. We watch a lot of movies.

I still say things are looking up, though. Rich went to Nashville today for a CT scan, blood work, consult, and infusion. His CT scan came back normal, with no signs of tumor growth or abscess. His blood work is within normal levels, even with his white blood cell count going up a smidge (7.0 to 9.2). He got a script for antibiotics to hopefully address his possible sinus infection. They’ve escalated his immunotherapy dosage again this week.

He goes back to the trigger release goddess Denise on Friday. He’s seeing the sports medicine folks on Monday afternoon for x-rays on his shoulder. We have a new prescription for Wellbutrin to see if that helps with Rich’s anxiety. That should give him the tools he needs to be himself again.

We’re still keeping busy. We have an SCA event, race/marathon, or party scheduled nearly every weekend in April and May. We’re going to San Francisco for a conference in June. We’re making plans for Pennsic in August. I’m running a half marathon in Vegas in November.

Life goes on. And we’re grateful that it does.


No bad news is still good news

Since Monday the 12th, Rich has been having bad cramps off and on. They feel a bit like binding gas but will eventually “pop” and give him relief. It’s been cyclical where he feels best in the morning and then worse over the course of the day until he needs prescription pain meds to sleep. Needless to say, this has worried him which has then worried me.

This week, he flew to Nashville for his CT scan, blood work, check up with Dr. Bendell, and drug infusion. He arrived for his CT scan yesterday morning and a large amount of the contrast he drank came out of his fistula. The fistula that has been closed since Christmas. So that was alarming.

They had someone look at his CT scan at the imaging unit to make sure he wasn’t leaking all over and needed to go to the hospital. They said he was “fine” and sent him to see Dr. Bendell. He called me and was very disappointed at the output, but I convinced him to get a smoothie all the same so he stayed hydrated and had some nutrition.

Dr. Bendell broke it down like this: His bowels are irritated, most likely from the reintroduction of food after seven months. This causes them to swell and kink, leading to cramps, binding gas, and general discomfort. He’s still processing food fine, though, so no need to revert to TPN. He should just be aware of what he eats. The tumors have not grown noticeably, so they are not what’s causing his stomach cramping. He doesn’t have a blockage other than the swollen bowels causing some restrictions. He has some lesions on his liver that have grown a bit but that’s normal with the immunotherapy he’s getting.

Dr. Bendell is not worried about anything she saw.

Rich feels like this is a regression, mostly because the fistula is leaking. But it’s not leaking very much so he just needs a piece of gauze versus an ostomy bag. And he’s still allowed to eat. He just wanted to hear that the tumor has gotten smaller. He wanted some good news, not just a lack of horrible news.

Yesterday was a roller coaster of emotions for him as well as tiring travel. He’s taking it easy today, but we will rally from there.

The many faces of Rich

This is your turn

Rich has good days and bad days. Everyone does. Sometimes, though, it’s not so simple to figure out how he’s doing overall.

Monday night after dinner Rich’s stomach started cramping and bothering him. He went to work on Tuesday, but by 5pm he was in rough shape. I drove him to pick up Ian and then home where he skipped dinner, spending the evening on the couch.

By this morning, he was feeling better. He ate breakfast and that went well. We decided to try a late lunch at Panera. When we walked out to the car, I asked him if he wanted to drive and he said it didn’t matter.

He then proceeded to question every turn I took, including which parking space I picked. It’s not that I’m a bad driver. It’s just that Rich is a horrible passenger. It’s part of why he hates flying is they won’t let him drive. When we left Panera, I drove again and the first thing he said was, “Why are you going this way?” Dude. It’s a parking lot. There’s only but so many ways to exit.

This summer we went through months where I could barely get Rich to leave the house, let alone drive. He was not up to driving or even having an opinion about the drive. He would just lean the seat back and stare wistfully out the window, resigned to his destination and the route there.

It’s so nice to know he’s feeling well enough to question my driving, I’m not even mad.


You know when you put a costume or a leash on a cat? How it just gets real low?

cat on leash

That was Rich wearing an ostomy bag. He would wear it, but he would not be happy about it and it was the human equivalent of putting little mittens on his paws. He moved slower and much more grumpily.


On December 30th, we took off his ostomy bag and left it off. And with it we also removed a significant dark cloud that had been hanging over him. He’s had a lightness in his step that I have long missed.

We also have discontinued his TPN. I conferred with the surgeon and he said as long as Rich is eating at least 75% of his caloric intake, we could skip the intravenous nutrition. Considering he’s had the same meals I have since New Year’s Eve, we’re doing great. If anybody needs to fertilize their roses, I’ve got 30 liters of TPN which is basically prescription Miracle Gro.

His lower wound is still open and oozing a bit, so we continue to bandage that and his fistula opening for the dime-sized speck he produces daily. We’ve come a long way, baby.

Sunday was hard for us both after hearing of Stuart Scott‘s passing. Scott had the same cancer Rich does, was diagnosed in 2007 at age 42 just like Rich and after many surgeries and drugs died at age 49.

His ESPYS speech from last July made me cry. He was a great sportscaster, a clever guy and a devoted father.

Stuart Scott

But Scott didn’t have the Chancellor of Optimism. He didn’t have the angels in Nashville with their fashion sense and cutting edge tech. And he didn’t have Team Stryker.

I’m happy for Rich and our family. We’ve had a hell of a year, but things are looking up. We’re in good hands at Sarah Cannon. Flights are only $250 each now. Rich was saying he’s looking forward to eating airport food that he’s not been able to have in a long time (just let that statement sink in). Our little home is lovely and stable right now.