The Last planning for the living wake Is here, and I am so far from catching up

Having spent two and half weeks in the hospital my blood counts going up and down, developing a blood infection along with my extreme malnutrition I experience unbelievable fatigue. I have now been released into home hospice care given a life span of three weeks, of which I am going to make every effort to bypass.  Unfortunately one of the most enjoyable activities is also the most exhausting is visiting with friends and family.

The family and I can’t begin to appreciate enough all the gifts of generosity you have all shown us. It has been an incredible out pouring from the community that we will never be able to repay. We would like all that can attend my wake this Saturday  9/16 @ 5pm at CCB to enjoy time together.

Full of gratitude

Trent

 

Where to begin this leg of the journey?…

I attended a scheduled appointment on AUG 4th (Kel’s and Mine 30th wedding anniversary… lucky gal lol) I was to get two units of blood and two units of fluid. When I got to the appointment my blood pressure was extremely low 76/44 and my Hemoglobin number was 5, very low…………. a Hemoglobin count of 12 would be normal, emergency rooms don’t want to let you leave if you have a count of 7 or lower, so guess who went to the ER? This also meant I had Anemia, I could barely move, think, and even had considerable trouble breathing. Malnutrition and Dehydration were the two biggest culprits attacking me. I had just finished up a 10 day Radiation run, and the second week of a new Chemo treatment.

The plan of attack quickly formed, get the blood levels closer to normal and jump on the nutrition wagon ASAP. Blood therapy (my term) meant 4 more units of blood, and a continuing flow of liquids. During this time it was discovered that I was bleeding in my GI tract, which wasn’t really helping my effort to get back to normal, aside from the fact that bloody Black Diarrhea does not calm one’s nerves. 1. got bleeding under control, a combo of the Stent, Radiation, and Blood Thinners seem to be the cause…That’s all in check currently. 2. Blood Numbers managed, sadly I am low blood pressure person by nature, however between the extra Units of 0+, units of fluid, and Albumin they were able to wrangle the blood to a more normal level. 3. Got the feeding tube put in and started the slow process of reintroducing food to my system, after months of nothing. The tank started to fill with a special goop pushed by a pump on a 24 cycle.

We felt like things were looking good for setting a coming home date! but wouldn’t ya know the next new blood work comes back with a little troubling numbers mix, and further testing confirmed a Blood Bacterial infection. Guess what !?! All dates for patient Trent’s release have been suspended!!! Since the bacterial blood diagnosis, the new feeding tube has decided while I’m still in bed, now would be a good time to start leaking. This puts nutrition on hold, and means some sort of procedure to patch up my leaky tub.

The last time many of you have seen, I was a shade of Death’s Door white and about 150#….. Well now I’ve added about 30# of water weight… all in my legs, lower gut, and in my scrotum, I wouldn’t normally bring my junk into a story, however so much fluid has migrated there, believe it or not your sack will stretch… currently about the size of a personal melon or larger cantaloupe, adds a whole new dimension to the bed roll over… never needed momentum before…. lol.

With a bacterial blood infection looming, we don’t really talk about a life time line anymore, my goal is to continue to squeeze out as much life a possible. I want you all to know The LOVE, SUPPORT, and GENEROSITY shown to Kelly and myself and our family by so many friends and community world wide has brought me to tears more than once, made me feel stronger, and has been heaped upon us in such lavish amounts, it just doesn’t feel deserved, and yet I don’t think I would have of made it this far without you all!

Thank You All!

PS I hadn’t written a post in awhile because frankly with anemia and malnutrition the old noggin wasn’t firing on all cylinders, there may still be a miss fire now and again, but we’re working on it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good News, Bad News

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So last Friday I spent the entire day having a CT Scan, a PET Scan, and preliminary preparation for radiation. That meant multiple trips through giant donuts. The gurney is automatic and rolls you in and out like some sort of science fiction launch tube.

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After all the Scans I saw the Doc on Monday for a the run down, it goes like this… The cancer in the Lymph nodes and bones seems to be stalled to recessing, however the cancer in the lungs and liver has shown a slow growth of 1-4mm depending in the area. The lung spots are very small and not a major concern, but the liver is another story, bigger spots are raising concern although my liver function still shows normal. The plan is to switch up the Chemo and Amino Acid therapy to target the growth areas, this starts Monday, the neuropathy should desist, but will more than likely be replaced by hair loss and fatigue. My heart rate may go up, but I’m not too concerned since I live normally at the lower end of the spectrum (90/60). I don’t have to have my little chemo buddy for 48 hours after anymore so I’m pretty happy about that, and the fact that the Doc is willing to change direction for a better result makes me feel much more comfortable.

Radiation to shrink the Esophageal Tumor starts in 14 days, it will run everyday for two weeks. The hope is that the tumor will shrink enough to be able to pull the stent and allow me to eat normally…oh how I wish this will work. I miss Steak and Fried Chicken.

Since having the Stent put in I’ve been able eat a wider variety of stuff than I thought, Thai Noodles, Popeye’s Butterfly shrimp, Cheerio’s with fruit… it’s been great. I’m OK as long as I cut everything into a 2cm cube or smaller and drink something after every couple of bites. Getting the bowels back online after months of only ensure has been a little rough but seems to be evening out. The difficult part is that I have to lounge or sleep at a 30 degree angle or better, however to get a belch out (which is needed often) I have to sit up to hunched forward. So lately I’m either Cleopatra or the Thinker.

cleopatra                 thinker

Increased Calories translate to greater strength and stability, I’m looking to knock malnutrition off my list of ailments… the irony never ends, here I’ve been surrounded by and preparing food but can’t eat it. It’s a movie I swear, a little dark, but a movie for sure. The bottom line is I’m feeling stronger and better everyday I eat, my goal is to keep pushing myself toward a better quality of life. I cherish the time I get to spend with family and friends, as should we all. Many of you may not realize that you are also on the clock, it may not be as clear-cut and trackable as mine, but you don’t know when you will “cease to be” any more than I do, so please for the love of sacred life follow your passions, don’t leave things undone, travel, learn, love… fill yourself up with the interests and drives you’ve pushed down or ignored for far too long!

 

Let’s add some fruit to the grill

Making our way through fresh fruit season I recommend that you add some fresh fruit to your next grill out. Grilled fruit can straddle the gap between salad and dessert and add a interesting side to your meat, I like the fruit plain or seasoned with Chile Lime seasoning, but you could also fill the fruit pit gap with cream cheese, goat cheese, or mascarpone. I like using Peaches, Nectarines, Plums, Pineapple, or even pitted cherries if you have a grill basket. I start the fruit cut side down to get some marks then turn and finish on the skin side.

I like to add a couple pieces of extra fruit to the grill to keep in reserve for use later in the week. These pieces I put in the fridge for use in the food processor as salad dressing base. I put the chilled cooked fruit into the food processor and puree, add a little grape seed oil or light salad oil, and salt and pepper to taste. If you find your fruit overly sweet a little lime or lemon juice will brighten it up.

 

Post Stent Procedure, and How did I become a chef….

Esophagus Cancer

The diagram above I stole from the web shows what I had done, prior to the stent placement I was confined to a liquid diet. Great for rapid weight loss, pretty sucky for overall health. The downfalls of having a stent is that there are usually permanent and you spend the rest of your life sleeping with your upper body at a 30-45 degree angle since your esophagus no longer is able to keep your stomach bile in check… if you lay flat bile runs up to your mouth. This seems like a small adjustment, however since I’ve lost well over 100 pounds I no longer have an ass. Sleeping at 30-45 degrees puts all the pressure on my recently discovered tail bone. So currently my chest hurts from a self expanding tube, my tailbone hurts from lack of ass and all weight being put on it during sleep, and my bowels are really confused after months of a liquid diet. I go in for a PET scan this Friday to see what the Cancer is up to, no good I’m sure lol. My Oncology Doc would like to possibly radiate the Esophagus and possibly shrink the tumor in hopes of removing the stent… we’ll see. In the mean time I’ve started actually eating food, in fact had a bowl of Cheerios and fresh local strawberries this morning, I can feel strength starting to come back, however with a stomach shrunk to the size of a Costco sample cup it will take awhile to get up to mid evil feast standards of eating, but eating and juicing is good and should make for a more pleasant summer.

How did I become a chef? I am fortunate to have a mother who is an amazing cook and entertainer, and two grandmothers who both were kitchen forces to reckon with. Being the oldest of three boys with no sisters there was no such thing growing up as woman’s work. Mom was always willing to teach, and the stove called to me at an early age. I think when I was still in grade school I made the folks breakfast in bed… Scrambled eggs mixed with tang powder, parenting can be such a cruel labor of love. My Dad’s folks owned a pizza place on 60th and foster “Italian Pizzeria” where as kids we would sit in the back folding pizza boxes and get to make our own pizzas and grinders, drink Orange Crush and wear out “Hot Rod Lincoln” on the juke box. At 16 sixteen I got a drivers license and a job at Fryer Tuck’s chicken in Beaverton, there my responsibilities included peeling and hand slamming 16 five gallon buckets of fries a day and pressure frying chicken. They had a old circular no guard chicken saw that you ran the pieces through… so sketch. Once I left there I got a job at the Zoo, within two weeks I was a supervisor and had a great time selling burgers and dogs during the inaugural year of “Your Zoo and all That Jazz” and watching Mount St. Helens plume away. After the zoo I worked at a number of places around town which include;

  • The Rafters in Sellwood
  • The Rhinelander
  • Father’s
  • Belinda’s
  • 31 NW & whatever Bernard’s wife’s catering company was called..lol
  • The Treehouse in Lake Oswego
  • Domani’s
  • Nelson Brothers wine & cheese
  • Guido’s Eugene
  • Cafe Zenon Eugene
  • Casa-U-Betcha
  • Monarch Hotel

I was attending U of Oregon while working in restaurants and my folks said, Hey there’s a new culinary school opening in Portland we think you should check out. Pop’s concern was that I really wasn’t treating school with the serious I should given the cost, and he was more than willing to pay for me to get into a trade so I could support myself and call it good. I liked the idea and went for it, it was brutal, the Horst Mager Culinary Institute was the brain child of then Portland Celebrity chef Horst Mager in 1983. He wanted a CIA West, there wasn’t anything else at that time but Community College Institutional Cooking classes. I was in the third class to go through the school, we work every day up to 12 hours a day, we did prep for his seven restaurants and shortly became one of the largest caters in the city. Chef Mager brought in European and CIA chefs to instruct us, and this was before celebrity chefs, cable TV, or a Food Channel. If you didn’t snap to it, you got left behind, these guys make Gordan Ramsay look like a teddy bear. For whatever reason I excelled and graduated top of my class, I thrived on the combination of pressure and creative demands…. and still do.

Now I own a catering company and I am family partners in a brew pub, it can work out if you’re willing to WORK it out!

 

 

 

 

 

After Stent

The procedure went well, I now have a tube where my esophagus was. This will allow easier swallowing and eating soft foods, however I have to sleep sitting at a 45 degree angle or better, which will take a little getting used to. Since I have a stent there is no longer a valve or flap separating my stomach bile from rushing up the pipe and causing major reflux issues if I were to lay flat on my back, so 45 degrees it is. The next phase is to get some scans and see about radiation on the esophagus. I requested if possible to be able to eat steak again, so both my oncology doc and GI surgeon got together to come up with the stent/radiation plan, I could not be happier with my care, they listen and try to make it happen. I looking forward to increased energy from getting more nutrients. 

I cannot state loud and strongly enough about the support I have gotten, it literally brings me to tears. Friends, family, and community have all shown me more love than I deserve. You all make me want to fight harder and squeeze out more life from this ride! Thank you doesn’t say enough, I am indebted to you all!

Getting the Stent

So tomorrow at 12:30pm I check in for the stent procedure, I’ve never been one to go to the doctor, so this whole Cancer business has been a major adjustment. A stent is a tube they insert in your throat to widen the opening because CANCER has grown and clogged your pie hole. I’m not that comfortable with being put under, although being awake would be absolutely horrifying. The Plan is to put in a stent so I can leave the world of Steven King’s “Thinner” and start getting some nutrition. Then we are scheduled to get some scans and see if I’m a candidate for Esophageal Cancer Radiation (cross that off my bucket list)…Yes I’m beginning to now feel like the guy from “Alien” with something foreign in my throat. What’s really strange since I’m on this movie comparison kick is one of my favorite Sci-Fi movies is “Blade Runner” and for years I really Identified with Harrison Ford’s character and the struggle about AI life. However now that my life is on the clock I find Rutger Hauer’s character and I have more in common. I get a little apprehensive before a sleeping procedure, I always wonder if I’ll wake up… and what to. I haven’t had that many procedures but they still creep me out. I truly trust the people at OHSU, they’re great… but man that place is huge. I’ll be back yacking at you Saturday if all goes well until then wish me luck!

Chemo session 8, two to go!

 

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I just got back from a week in Mexico where I was able to eat almost nothing, the tumor in my esophagus has grown inward closing off my pie hole further restricting what I can get down. I’m fortunate I was a portly 250 pounds when the Cancer started attacking, this extra weight has helped me weather no eating since I’ve started Chemo. My organ functions and protein levels still check out O.K. and allow me to keep on chemo-ing. Malnutrition however has become the biggest looming concern of my treatment lately, so the options are discussed. I quickly dismiss the feeding tube, I need to eat, I am a Cook, not being to eat is not living for me. So Kelly and I talk to the Doc about a stent, a sleeve inserted into the esophagus to allow soft foods to travel into my stomach. The stent option at least allows me to chew and swallow some things, the downside is it is permanent and pretty much takes all steak like proteins off the menu. My Doc is very sympathetic to me being a cook, and how tasting and eating is important so she noodles an idea. The idea is something they really haven’t done on purpose before so the Doc calls the stent surgeon and asks, “If we put in a stent then radiate the tumor, and the tumor shrinks enough is it possible to remove the stent” the stent Doc says, “yes but it may even just fall through”. We decided this is what were going try, I’ll get a stent within the week to start getting nutrition, suspend Chemo while we target radiate the tumor daily for a few weeks, and hope there’s a porterhouse in my future.

Because I’m not getting much nutrition I’m the thinnest I’ve ever been, looking much like an extra on the walking dead, and now without nutrition I’m also waking like one. I have to wear a belt with my new size 32 jeans, I’ve lost so much weight that hard back chairs bother my backbone when I sit down. My time at the brewery will reduce even more until I can get better fed. I’m a creature of habit and have always loved working long hours in the kitchen, however now when I work myself to the brink I can’t eat or drink for days after, trying to find a balance has become the most difficult part of having this affliction. My family has ben very supportive, sacrificing their time and projects to help me through this and telling me several times a day to “go home”. I’m looking forward to getting a little stronger and pursuing vitality, and I’ll keep tilting at windmills with Kelly at my side. Thank you all for prays and well wishes, it truly inspires me to dig deeper and appreciate every breath.

Live for what floats you boat, or at least look hard for what it is! Life is so very precious please don’t waste your time.

Last Day in Cabo

Tomorrow we head back across the imaginary wall to the good ol USA and home. Eating has not returned, liquids are proving difficult as well, so no tacos were realized. I see the Doc on Monday so I’m sure options and plans will be made then. I am weak from weight loss and malnutrition, walking any distance taxes me in ways I couldn’t have imagined. Airports are a fatigued persons nightmare, the trip down completely wore me out. I’m looking forward to getting home and back at the grind. I will miss the crashing waves of the beaches here, and I should have followed my dream of moving here years ago. To Someone with an extended expiration date it might seem impractical but to me it just looks like an opportunity missed at this point. Live as large as you can, you won’t regret it!

Fish Tacos time must mean Summer is here!

One of my favorite things about the being on the Baja Peninsula is fish tacos, I love the simplicity of side toppings and the fresh fish. Sometimes I think we try and cram too much into our tacos at home… Seasoned ground beef, Cheese, Sour Cream, Pico de Gallo, Lettuce,  Heavy, Clunky etc etc. The beauty of the tacos down here is the restraint, which keeps them light, fresh, and easy to eat. Here are a few examples of the taco fillings I’ve found here in Baja.

Pickled Red Onions

1 Onion Sliced into thin rings, 1 cup light vinegar or enough to cover the onions, you can use rice, cider, or white wine vinegar. 2 Tbl. Sugar, 1 Tsp salt, then anything else like garlic or peppers you would like to add although these things aren’t crucial and I seldom try to put too much in to these onions. Heat the vinegar with sugar and salt on the stove once the sugar and salt are dissolved turn off the stove and drop in your thinly sliced onions. When the mixture comes to room temperature put into a container and refrigerate until taco day.

Avocado Crema

Take one or two RIPE avocados depending on size, I like Hass Avocados, put them into your food processor add a Tbl. of lime juice and whirl until smooth, then add more or less a 1/2 cup of heavy cream until the crema is the consistency of a ranch salad dressing it should taste more like avocado than cream, then salt and pepper to taste. You can add a little hot sauce or sour cream if you like, but I’d rather leave it out and those that want hot sauce or sour cream can simply put it straight on their own tacos.

Cilantro

This is a love it or hate it herb, I love it and simple torn leaves of this on my taco is a great addition! 1 bunch washed, shaken dry and chopped very coarsely will serve quit a few folks.

Cabbage

Thin sliced green cabbage adds such a wonderful crunch and freshness to tacos, I like it much better than lettuce which tends to get soggy so quickly. You won’t need much cabbage, and fortunately grocery stores often will offer it in a half head. Simply slice the cabbage as thin as you can and offer as a topping.

Pico de Gallo

Traditionally Pico de Gallo is a kinda rough chopped salsa of White Onion, Tomatoes, and Jalapenos, with cilantro and green onions. I have some spice & cilantro sensitive people in my tribe so I’m providing a less spicy version recipe. One White Onion finely chopped, two tomatoes seeded and chopped, 1 Poblano pepper seeded and chopped, Three green onions chopped finely, a dash of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Replacing the Jalapeno with Poblano will cut down the heat factor, but still give you the colors and pepper flavors of Baja.

Hot Sauce

Everyone has their favorites and some make their own but for tacos I like the Pico Pica brand line of sauces they have both red and green and range from mild to hot, they’re a little chunkier than others and I like the color and flavor.

Limes

It is always nice to keep a couple limes in the fridge, wether to put in your beer or squeeze on your taco, Lime juice really brightens up a taco!

Fish

Traditional Fish tacos in Baja are battered and deep fried however you can get them grilled or seared and for at home I think pan seared is the most convenient. Living in the Pacific NW one of the best fish for fish tacos is fresh rockfish but you can use anything including shrimp, I know you can get tilapia readily however most of it is farm raised in PRC (peoples republic of China) and not fresh caught on our own coast. Once you get the fish filet home, check it for bones, remove any you find, then lightly season with salt and pepper, and sear on a medium high heat in a non stick pan until the fish is just cooked through. Once cooked slice into strips for tacos

Tortillas

There are so many options these days get what you want, for me I prefer a smaller corn tortilla wrapped in foil and heated on the grill or in the oven until I’m ready to assemble my taco.

I hope you all are having a great start to summer, and that there are a ton of tacos in your future!