It’s been a while since I last posted a BMWotD, and I’ve got a few of them stashed away on my local drive, so time to play some catch-up.
This one was listed for sale on the Minneapolis CraigsList earlier this month, and had (un)fortunately sold before I saw mention of it on the 318ti.org forum recently. Looks to be a nicely executed swap on a very clean car. Loving the interior on this car too. The asking price may have been a little on the high side, but the fun factor combined with the clean factor plus my favorite color would’ve made it hard to pass up. Good thing I didn’t have the chance to deliberate whether to take a shot at it.
Another very tardy update; the last few weeks have been, um… eventful.
Four weeks ago I had my first sit-down with Dr. McGraw, the radiation oncologist. There was a bit of a snafu in the scheduling, as he would’ve preferred to have seen me after my PET scan (which was done the following Thursday morning; more on that later) so he didn’t have a full game plan for treatment. He also said that he would be passing my case over to one of his partners because he was being deployed with the Air Guard and would be gone for the next three months. He did however take the time to explain things pretty well, so Yvonne & I were thankful for that. Knowing what he did of my case (two things you don’t want to hear from a doc; “I’ve been reading up on your case; it’s very interesting.” and “Wow, I’ve never seen [i]that[/i] before!”) he thought that a course of 18 daily radiation treatments over a span of three weeks ought to do the trick to completely eradicate the cancer from my jaw.
The treatments would be aimed at my jaw, and should only affect that immediate area; the side effects didn’t sound like much fun (and haven’t been) but he didn’t think it would interfere much with life & work (they haven’t, much) and should be effective. The daily thing was kind of a surprise, but he explained that doing smaller doses daily is far easier on the body than larger doses spaced further apart. I think I can accept that; I won’t enjoy it, but that pretty much goes without saying.
Following the appointment that morning I was also fitted with my Hannibal mask. They don’t call it that, but I will because that’s the first thing that came to mind when I saw it; it’s a form-fitted mask that helps to keep my head stationary during the radiation treatments, and also allows the techs to mark it up with reference points so they can be more consistent from one treatment to the next (which is better than marking me!) It’s made of a plastic mesh that starts out flat and becomes pliable when warmed up. The techs draped the warmed mesh over my face, then fitted it to a u-shaped plate that clamps to a hard plastic headrest. This isn’t mine, but looks an awful lot like it:
Since the tumor is on my lower jaw, they also want to keep my mouth from moving, so I was fitted with a mouthpiece, which is similar to a football bite-guard except it has a flat plastic piece in place of the part that would normally form fit around the lower teeth. After the initial fitting, the bite-guard was attached to the mask; the two combined, with the mask clamped onto the headrest, with me in a supine position on the table made for an extremely unpleasant confined feeling.
They did a quick CT scan of my head that first Tuesday, and in the few minutes that it took I nearly gagged on the stupid mouth guard. The bite guard obstructs my tongue’s movement, and that combined with the way the mask fits around the bottom of my chin made swallowing really difficult. And that combined with laying flat on my back on the table made for a few moments of near panic. I made it through the CT scan, and was so glad to finally be released from the thing I failed to say anything about that. Later I assumed that at some point we would take some time to get the mask & bite guard to fit better… Wrong assumption.
During our visit Dr. McGraw mentioned that he wanted to use that mask for my second PET scan in order to get more accurate results; I was still hoping that there might be some adjusting we could do with it, but when the nurse trotted that thing out on Thursday morning it was pretty clear that wasn’t happening. They got me ready and slapped that puppy over my face & told me to relax, the test would take 20 to 25 minutes. That’s when I nearly lost it.
I was to have nothing but water for six hours before the PET scan, and part of the prep involves drinking a thick sugary goop. That made for a bit of sticky gunk in the back of my throat that was hard to swallow. Add to that the bite guard in my mouth and the part of the mask wrapping under my chin and it was extremely hard to swallow. I’ve never considered myself to be claustrophobic, but I’d never been this restricted before (having my arms strapped to my sides didn’t help that either.) I knew I wouldn’t be able to make it five minutes, much less twenty-five minutes, so I grunted and kicked and did whatever I could to communicate to the nurse that it wasn’t gonna fly… She pulled the mask off and I nearly hyperventilated, so happy to be able to breathe again!
I explained the difficulty I was having, so she went to ask about adjusting the thing; she came back saying the word was ‘no’ on adjusting, but the doc relented on the mouth guard, and she pulled it off of the mask. The mask was still somewhat restrictive, what with the part that wrapped under the chin, but I somehow made it through the procedure by praying, reciting what I could of the 23rd Psalm (sure felt like the valley of the shadow of death!) and counting. The PET scan operates by making scans of small sections of the body, as if it’s a great big meat slicer (that thankfully doesn’t actually cut anything.) From the counting I determined that it took around three minutes for it to scan a section of my body; then the table I was on would move forward six inches or so, then it would scan the next section of my body. I lost track of how many times it moved, but if my one-second counts were accurate, it was about three minutes between each move.
Even with the counting and praying, there were still a few moments where I was this close to bailing out; swallowing was difficult, breathing was difficult, I was getting a kink in my neck from the plastic headrest, and having my arms & legs strapped down was just a bit too much. But I did make it through. Later on I realized another factor that made the earlier PET scan so much easier; Dr. Bleeker prescribed a sedative for me to take in preparation for the test. I think the mask would still have been a problem if I’d had the sedative on board, but I have no doubt that would’ve helped.
Later that same afternoon we met with Dr. Bleeker to go over the results… The PET scan basically measures the glucose uptake of cells in your body. To do that, a radiotracer is injected into the bloodstream; for cancer detection, the radiotracer used is FDG (fluorodeoxyglucose) tagged to glucose. Cancers absorb glucose differently from normal tissue, and the PET scan is able to detect those differences; in reading the PET scan, a radiologist reads the scan results and grades the “glow” of an area in SUV (Standardized Uptake Values). When I had my first PET scan back in April, the glow in my jaw was a 10; following chemotherapy it was 3. Considering the fact that normal or benign tissue has an SUV of 2.3, I’d say we’re heading in the right direction.
I started writing this post about three weeks ago, and am just now finishing it up. I could go on, and tell more about the radiation therapy, but I think I’ll just post this and start a fresh post on that topic. Pretty sure I can finish it in less than three weeks.
A good friend — Ken — found an end to his earthly suffering today, losing his battle with mesothelioma.
I’ve known members of Ken’s family much longer than I’ve known him, so it feels like I’ve known him forever. In reality though it’s only been about 15 years or so. Ken is a few years my senior, and has been retired longer than we’ve been acquainted. He’s not exactly an official mentor, but he has mentored me on many levels, usually unintentionally. Such a great guy; quiet, humble, honest… Seems like they don’t make men like anymore, or at least not as often.
Ken’s mesothelioma diagnosis came long before I was diagnosed with DLBCL, but we somehow ended up on the same rotation for chemotherapy; I counted him as my chemo-buddy. Mesothelioma is a much different and more aggressive cancer than DLBCL, and his fight was simply for a little more time; there is no cure, and the chemo only slowed its advance until it outsmarted the drugs. He had explored lots of treatment options in the last few months at Sanford Cancer Center and at Mayo Clinic, but the doctors said there was little more they could do for him and he wouldn’t likely see Christmas. I really hate it when they are that right.
The last time I saw Ken was two weeks ago this Sunday; Ken was admitted to the hospital a week earlier, and Yvonne and I stopped to visit, staying much longer than we had intended. I’m glad we had that time with him. Ken looked good that day, alert but a bit sleepy from the drugs helping to control his pain. The cancer had spread to his abdomen and had formed several tumors which were collecting fluid and causing a lot of pain. He and Harriet were so grateful for and hospitable to every visitor; the embodiment of graciousness. The strange thing was that only three weeks earlier at our last chemo session he looked great and was in no pain at all. That was five weeks ago, and today he’s gone. I just can’t wrap my head around that.
But Ken was well grounded in his faith in Jesus Christ, and there’s no doubt he’s in a better place now, free of pain and worshiping at the Throne. It’s hard though, knowing I won’t see him again, and knowing how difficult this will be for his family. Still, I envy him just a little… But I know it’s not my turn yet; God still has a job for me here, so I wait patiently for him to call me home, and try to become what he wants me to be.
Hot on the heels of the 635CSi I posted about a couple of days ago comes this beauty; a 1988 M6. Same form factor as the other car, same color, but a few differences that make all the difference…
Gorgeous 1988 BMW E24 Shark! 95K Miles!
For sale: One gorgeous rare classic 1988 BMW M6 E24 chassis coupe with only 95.500 miles.
VIN: WBAEE1417J2561198. Rare car new was $59,000!
This one is a beauty in “ZINNOBERROT” red over tan leather hides with heated electric leather seats, 17″ BMW “style 5″ wheels [OR 17" Racing Dynamics], cold a/c, cruise, performance chip, short shift kit and more.
Offered here at $16,988. Phone calls please to 650-307-2251
The M-systems logo is the big deal on this one, because that tells of many other goodies lurking just below the surface that really set this car apart from other e24s. The interior on this one isn’t exactly my favorite, but it’s something I could live with, especially for the pleasure of hearing the music produced by that engine. I’m told that the e24 isn’t terribly nice for tall people to sit in, but that’s something I’ve not experienced first-hand so I have no idea, but I’d sure like to find out.
This car is offered for sale by Evan at BimmerBrothers; BimmerBrothers sells a lot of older BMWs, and their reputation is a mixed bag. It all depends on who you talk to. Some people are extremely pleased, but others… Don’t even get them started. Again, not knowing first-hand, I think the bad rap might be ill-deserved; selling used cars is one thing, but selling old used cars is another entirely, and if everything isn’t exactly as it was described in an ad, the buyer gets a bee in his bonnet about it. I think Evan et al do their best, but miss some details.
Still this is one of their cars that I wouldn’t mind testing them on. Not now though, especially at $17k. Really not now.
Here’s an e24 that I wouldn’t mind owning, for sale on CraigsList in Bloomington, MN. A 1988 635CSi with a 5-speed, in red. It’s an ’88, which means it’s equipped with the 211hp M30B35. It hit’s all my happy spots, with one exception; even though the ad is a little short on details, if it had a black interior, I’d probably be looking for a way to sell a car or two.
1988 BMW 635 CSI – $5000 (Bloomington, MN)
1988 BMW 635 CSI – red, grey leather interior, 5 speed stick, 144,000 miles, stored winters, no rust, new tires, many new parts over the years, very nice condition…
The first biopsy that was done to remove the tumor from my jaw had relatively few adverse side effects (other than a day or so of feeling like I was clopped in the mouth by a horse), but I wasn’t so fortunate following the second biopsy. One of the things the surgeon warned about was possible injury to the mental nerve, which passes through the mental foramen — a passageway just below the area where the tumor was excised — and then branches out to provide sensation from the skin of the chin and the lower lip.
The first oral surgeon did a decent job of staying clear of that nerve — he probably held back a bit after realizing it wouldn’t be possible to dig the whole tumor out once he got in there… But ever since the second biopsy, my lower lip has had that weird tingly feeling like you get when your foot or hand is in a weird position for too long and “goes to sleep”. It feels weird, but it at least works as it should; no problem with muscle control, only sensation. When I eat, it’s hard to know if there is something stuck to my lip, so I tend to keep a napkin handy to make sure there’s nothing embarrassing going on with food on my face!
The really weird thing is that it’s like there are some wires crossed in the nerve bundle; when I brush my teeth and the brush moves past my lower lip near the area where the teeth were removed, it feels like I’m brushing my chin too. I get a similar sensation when licking my lips; when my tongue moves left to right across the inside of my lip, it feels like something is moving right to left across the front of my chin. And when I drink a glass of cold water & allow the water to swish down between my lower lip & gums, I get a cold sensation on my chin, like the water is dribbling down my chin. Almost like a dribble cup that follows me around everywhere!
I brought the problem up when I last met with Dr. Stanos three weeks ago, but he had nothing to offer other than he’d never heard of that before. I really hate it when the professionals say things like that; tells me that this is the way it is, and unless it somehow heals itself, I’ll just have to learn to live with it.
It also reminds me of how fearfully and wonderfully we are made, and how even with the advances in technology and medical science, there is still so much about the human body that is still a mystery. I have to laugh at the people in the science community who play like they have it all figured out and there is nothing that we as humans can’t conquer. They play like they know the origin of everything and how it evolved to the point we know today, and we just need a little more time or more sophisticated tools to figure out how to cure all things. In reality we humans are just pikers compared to the Designer of these wonderful things. Modern medicine is wonderful stuff, but in many ways it’s little more than hacking; we know enough to mess with or fix a few things, and enough to be dangerous, but it seems there is far more that we don’t know than we do. Our vast knowledge store is just guesses at how things came to be. Only God knows the bigger picture of how he created all things and how they all work together.
For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. I Cor. 1:25
When I first learned that I had cancer on my jaw, the oral surgeon made a point of telling me that what I had was not squamous cell carcinoma, but rather non-Hodgkins lymphoma. At first I didn’t quite get why he was making that distinction, but after thinking about it and doing some research on it, it made sense; squamous cell carcinoma is the cancer usually associated with the use of chewing tobacco. And I suppose, being an oral surgeon, that’s typically the type of cancer he sees when there is a tumor in that area of the mouth.
But I have never used chewing tobacco — I’ve always thought it was a disgusting habit, and was never even tempted to try it. I did try smoking, once upon a time (after “borrowing” a Lucky Strike or three from Dad’s packs) but that was enough to keep me from making a habit of it. I still have trouble grasping why any kind of tobacco use holds any appeal to anyone. Nasty habits.
I also remember wondering early on whether people would assume that the cause of my cancer was chewing tobacco; maybe people have thought that, but I haven’t given it much thought. Then last week a guy I was chatting with asked if I had ever dipped; nope. So I explained the difference between the two types of cancer, and the fact that mine is special (I guess) because it’s pretty random in who it hits and where. Typically lymphoma is found in the lymph nodes (hence the name) and often in the bone marrow, but Dr. Bleeker said this is the first time he’s seen it in the jaw like mine. I hate it when medical professionals say things like that.
When I was doing some Googling about squamous cell carcinoma, one page I bumped into (and bookmarked) that caught my eye was the story of Curtis and his ordeal with squamous cell carcinoma. Most memorable of course are the photos of his surgery; downright gruesome. His cancer was on the inside of his cheek, but also affected his jaw; getting rid of the cancer and reconstructing the area looks like it was a major ordeal. I doubt (and hope & pray) that my reconstruction doesn’t get that involved, but those photos should be shown to any kid even thinking about using chewing tobacco.
I’m sure that some tobacco users will point to a story like mine — that someone who has never smoked or dipped can get cancer — and brag that they’ve been smoking/dipping for decades without consequence… Some people just refuse to learn from others’ mistakes I guess.
This month, our 528e turns 30, as it was built October 1982 and I bought it new in April 1983. This BMW is the longest I’ve kept any automobile, having been well known as the “car of the month” guy, many years ago. I tried to get a BMW Original Production Certificate from BMW Mobile Tradition several years ago, but they told me that during the period my 528e was built, they were revising their record keeping processes and as luck would have it, they had no information about my car, as it had been lost. Too bad, as I otherwise have every document associated with this car, since I took delivery of it.
Once in a while when we thought about selling the car, we could never answer the question what will we replace it with? Only once were we going to actually replace it… with a well known Euro M5, but that didn’t happen due financial timing. Bottom line is this has been a remarkable automobile and kept in top condition, it continues to provide very reliable transportation and great driving experiences. If you are new to the BMW E28 automobile, take the time to go over it and bring it up to spec. It will not disappoint you, if you truly come to understand the design philosphy of the various E28 models and can appreciate the driving experience they deliver.
Plus, you are here at MyE28.com, where most all of the resources you may need can be found. Believe me, I know and I am greatful I found this forum some years ago, which has enabled me to keep my E28 in the condition it is in.
Rod has maintained his e28 meticulously — his motto is, A car can be restored many times, but is only original once. — and I am grateful to him for applying the same level of attention to documenting what he’s done to his car over his 30 years of ownership; his website is a wealth of information about how these cars are put together and what can be done to keep them looking good and working as they were designed to. Since his car is kept immaculately clean, the detailed photos of the mechanical bits on his site are invaluable in figuring out how things should look, if it weren’t for the grease, grime and rust that are present on most every other car like his. Well, present on mine anyway!
Rod is also an inspiration to me because he maintains his car on his own, and uses his single car garage to work on it.
Reminds me of my garage in regard to size, but mine isn’t nearly as well organized. Some day…
Here are a few photos from his site to show how clean it is; probably cleaner than when he took delivery in 1983. He’s made a few modifications on it over the years… Euro headlights, front strut brace, polished & painted valve cover, etc… But overall just an excellent example of how the car should look. Nice work, Rod! Keep it up!
Update: Rod has sold his 528e. I simply cannot believe it, but it’s true. Clint Summers is the new owner, and from the sounds of it he’ll be an excellent caretaker for the car. Rod’s website has been modified to show that he no longer owns the car, and the site will no longer be updated. Not sure if the website will go with the car or if Rod will continue to maintain it; I just hope it stays online as an ongoing resource for those of us trying to keep these cars running.
Yesterday marked the passing of legend, Ray Manzarek, keyboardist for The Doors. I’ve been listening to some music from The Doors, and am just blown away by Ray’s musicianship, and the way he was able to work so seamlessly with Jim Morrison. Amazing stuff.
I might have to break down and get a DVD or Blu Ray or three of Doors performances. It’s easy to forget how good these guys were, and how bad many current performers are in comparison.
Today is Tuesday, May 21, officially Day 28 of The Cure, and day six following the second chemo infusion. Like the first infusion time, it set me back on my heels a bit, but six days out I’m definitely on the upswing. This time around I’ve had a bit more nausea, and things are still a little off, but not bad. Yesterday was a hungry day; I ate like a horse. Today isn’t quite so much so, but I can tell I’m definitely on the up-swing. Not quite back to where I was pre-treatment, but that will come soon enough.
One thing that’s a little odd today is that I can feel lots of twinges in my jaw; not sure if that’s just the deadened facial nerve messing with me or if it’s the tumor ‘convulsing’ (for lack of a better description…) The twinges seem to extend past the middle of my lower lip though, and feel a bit familiar to previous bouts with weird pains. It also makes me wonder if it’s the cancer reacting to the anti-cancer poisons in my system. If so, let’er rip. Kill that sucker.
Last week’s infusion almost didn’t happen on schedule… My PICC line dressing needs to be changed on a weekly basis, so I usually have that done on Tuesday mornings. Last week when I showed up for the change, the nurse looked at the orders on the computer & thought a blood sample was also needed that day, so took it by way of the PICC line, hoping to save me a poke in the arm the next day. Sidenote: Getting a blood draw from the PICC line is convenient in that I don’t have to get a needle in the arm; the line is already in a blood vessel, so it’s just a matter of drawing some out. But it’s a bit of a nuisance in that they can’t just pull blood directly out without first flushing it with saline (which gives a weird taste/smell along with it) then they have to waste some of the blood that’s drawn out so that it’s not contaminated with saline. Anyway, the sample was supposed to be taken the morning of the infusion, and really shouldn’t have been a big deal, but I got a call from the infusion center later that day telling me the numbers were a bit off.
The blood test that was ordered was for absolute neutrophil count (ANC.) They like to see a number above 1500, but mine was around 1300. In speaking with one of the nurses from Dr. Bleeker’s office, she said that they would likely test again the next morning, and the Doc would make the call whether to postpone or go ahead with the infusion. So the next morning another blood sample taken (this time from a vein instead of from the PICC line, which hurt like crazy, and the bruise is still there!) and the ANC count was in the 1800′s; a much better number! Dr. Bleeker said that sometimes if they have a patient with a low ANC count, he’ll have them take a walk and test again after; maybe the difference had to do with the fact that on Tuesday I drove to my appointment, had the valet park the car, and took the elevator up. On Wednesday, Yvonne drove, we parked in the lot, walked in, and walked up three flights of stairs before the blood draw. I’ll have to remember that next time! Maybe the painful poke had something to do with it too, but I’m not going to attempt a repeat of that.
Just to be on the safe side with the white blood cell counts, Dr. Bleeker had me go back to the Cancer Center on Thursday for a shot of Neulasta (aka Pegfilgrastim), which boosts bone marrow production and release of white blood cells. Since getting the shot in the arm, I’ve experienced the usual side effects; bone and joint pain, muscle pain, and yes, constipation. Wonderful stuff. Oh, and just to make things more interesting, they recommended taking acetaminophen to counter the first three side effects, but of course, that exacerbates that last one. Oh well.
The infusion went much more quickly this time; first go-round they need to be careful with the dosage on the Rituximab, and since they had already figured out how quickly I could take it in, it was done in a couple of hours instead of seven. Speaking of Rituximab, we got an itemized statement from Sanford Health on Saturday, laying out all the drugs and treatments I have received, and the price tags on each. The price on the Rituximab is a staggering $10,528 per dose. That’s like a liter bag of saline with the good stuff mixed into it. Ten-thousand, five-hundred and twenty-eight US dollars per dose, and that’s just the cost of the drug, not the infusion; that’s a separate line item. Must be some really good stuff!
In general, it’s a little humbling seeing the prices attached to a life-saving treatment like this; if life were judged as it is with used cars, I would’ve been long past the point of diminishing return, and you’d find my body among the rusting hulks out at the junkyard getting parts pulled off of it. But I think there’s still some value in this old rust bucket, and it’s worthwhile investing in a cure. At the risk of sounding a little morbid, seeing the dollar figures attached to the treatment makes me all the more eager to make my days count; it adds value to what I have left. Even without the “added value” they become more dear to me because I likely have fewer ahead than behind me (not because of the cancer; I’m just not getting any younger.)
The question I hear most often after the last infusion is still, “How are you feeling?” I really don’t mind the question, because I know that people care, and they know that the treatment can be difficult (it is), but honestly, a good answer to that question usually fails me because how I feel — physically — changes moment by moment, day by day with this treatment. Plus, the further I get into this treatment phase, the less concerned I am about how I feel physically at any given moment, because I know it’s going to change. I may feel rotten right now, but I know that there are better days ahead, and that is what I focus on. There may be worse days as well, but I try not to dwell on that possibility.
That makes me think back to an earlier post; I guess the one thing that I do feel that is somewhat consistent, and that can be more easily related is my feeling of gratitude, or thankfulness; grateful for everything and everyone in my life. I think of the friends who call or stop by or offer a meal, or just post something encouraging on Facebook or elsewhere… I think of my family… My brothers & sisters and my kids, and most importantly Yvonne. I’d be lost in all this without her.
I watched the video below this morning (thanks, Kelli!) that tells a bit of the story of a high school kid dealing with terminal cancer. In the last few minutes of the video his mom talks about the ordeal, and says,
I think that’s one of the blessings of cancer, is that you kinda come out of denial, and so in doing that, things are better. You know, that life is richer. Everything means more, beauty is more beautiful…
That is so true. Every day I am more thankful for the gift of life and health, the gift of friends, and the wonderful blessing that is my family, especially the loving wife that God has given me; I am so undeserving of the affection and love she showers on me. And so undeserving of the love and grace given by God above. Cancer has in a way put many things in my life in sharp relief, helping me better prioritize things according to a better standard. I only hope my distractedness doesn’t get in the way of this becoming a more permanent condition.
I guess I’m also thankful for the clarity that cancer brings; when I watched that video this morning and heard what Zach’s mom had to say about cancer giving a whack upside the head & making those involved appreciate things more, it made me think of the term “Cancer Goggles.” Kind of like “beer goggles”, except without the negative angle! I did a quick Google search to see if I was the first to coin the term, and sure enough someone else did just recently, and even threw a Blogspot blog together. Still, I think the term is very apt, and I think it’ll stick.