Monday, December 22, 2014

The Good News Continues

Just got back in from a visit with the nurse practitioner (Dr. Whoosh has apparently abandoned me altogether) and reviewed the results of my CT scan last week. The two main masses in my lungs continue to shrink in size. They're now about half the size they were on the previous CT scan and about 75% smaller than they were when first discovered.  I also have some enlarged lymph nodes that don't seem to be responding to treatment, but they're not growing either.  Overall a good report.

The recent adjustments to my medications seem to be helping my blood pressure, it's trending downward to nearly normal. Unfortunately my heart rate is trending upward, so there's a tradeoff there.

My hip pain has decreased quite a bit, I now believe a lot of it was due to the mattress I was sleeping on. A change in sleep habits seems to have helped significantly in that area.

My hair is somewhat thinner now and has gone completely white, even my eyebrows. It's too short this year, but I'm looking forward to maybe playing Santa Claus next year.

I'm starting to notice some trembling in my hands when I try to hold something steady. I was trying to tighten some screws the other night and had a lot of trouble getting the screwdriver bit into the screw slots. I'm not sure it that's part of the cancer treatments or just because I'm getting older.

Friday, December 12, 2014

A Light in the Kitchen

With my wife's failing eyesight, she's always complaining about needing more light to see things. Being the kind and caring husband that I am, I decided to add some under-cabinet lights in our kitchen to brighten things up a bit for her. To be honest, I don't think anything short of the Bat Signal would provide enough lumens to make her happy.  I purchased a 5 meter LED light strip. Theoretically, you can simply cut the adhesive-backed strip into multiple pieces, attach a solderless connector and a power supply to the end of each section and stick them to anything.

Note that I said "theoretically."

A week after purchasing all the supplies I thought I needed online, the box arrived. I immediately saw a what appeared to be problem; it didn't look like the solderless connectors were going to work. The strip had a concave cross section while the connectors seemed to be designed for a strip with a flat cross section. Looking again at the supplier's website, there was only one style of connector and one style of strip apparently these things were supposed to work together. After fumbling around with them for several hours I eventually got two sections working with much effort, but I wanted to install a total of eight sections and that just wasn't about to happen.

I finally hit upon a solution. Using the tip of a soldering iron, I carefully melted the end of each strip and flattened them out. There were still some problems but I eventually had eight working light strips.

Sticking them to the bottom of the cabinets was simple. They stayed attached for about an hour before the pull of gravity caused them to fall off of the cabinets and onto the counter top. After reapplying them several times, it became apparent that they just weren't going to stay put on their own. Each time I put them up, they fell down a little quicker due to the deterioration of the adhesive backing. I suspect that the wood on bottom of the cabinets just didn't provide a smooth enough surface.

A handy thing I discovered a while back is a super sticky duct tape called Gorilla Tape. It will stick to just about anything. I first tried cutting small pieces of the Gorilla Tape and placing them across the strips to hold them to the cabinets. That did keep them up, but the the LED's sagged between the strips of tape...not an attractive solution.

Next solution...cut a strip of Gorilla Tape the same length as the LED strip, apply the LEDS to the back of the tape, then stick the tape under the cabinets. The smooth surface of the tape back should be easier for the LED strip to bond to.  Unfortunately the repeated application of the strips to the cabinets had compromised their adhesive properties so much that after a few minutes they started drooping again.

The time spent on what should have been an afternoon project had stretched to about a week by this time. All along, my wife had been suggesting using Liquid Nails to hold them up. Fine...I'll try Liquid Nails.

Since it's a liquid glue, Liquid Nails has to set before it will hold anything in place. There was no way to smear it on the LED's and just stick them up, something would be needed to hold them in place until it set. No way to do that, so I tried putting a strip of Gorilla Tape on the counter and Liquid Nailing the LED's to the Gorilla Tape. After it set, I'd peel it off the counter and stick it to the bottom of the cabinet. Unfortunately the tape developed such a strong grip on the counter that the Liquid Nails bonded LED's broke off of the tape when I struggled to peel it off.

Final solution. Place Gorilla Tape on counter. Lay LED strip on Gorilla Tape. Cover LED strip with clear plastic strapping tape. Peel the assembly off of the counter and apply to bottom of the cabinet.

It's been an hour now. It's drooping slightly in one little spot and two short segments of the LED's have inexplicably stopped shining...but I think it's going to work. My hair has turned completely white now. I'm not sure if it's the cancer drugs or the frustration of this project that's caused it.

Speaking of cancer, no major changes on that front yet. Adjusting my medications and the timing of when I take them seems to have helped with the bradycardia problems. My blood pressure is relatively normal now, but my pulse is still somewhat elevated.  I need to talk to the doctor about what else can be done.

I'm scheduled for a new CT scan in about a week and a half and a visit with the oncologist a few days later to see how things are progressing.