The Diagnosis is Not the End!!
Five years ago I was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer's. When I was honest about having the disease on my sites all but one of the supporting companies ran for the hills taking nearly all of my income with them.
There is no cure for Alzheime's but my neurologist stresses working my brain and is now fully supportive of my flying RC airplanes because of the intense concentration required and how that "exercises" my brain to delay the progression of the disease. To date she feels this is doing as much or more than anything else we can come up with.
My goal with this effort is two fold. One is to continue pressing my brain with the intensive concentration required by RC flying. But I also want to show others with this and other similar diseases that the diagnosis is not the end! I can best do this through my sites flyingrc.net and fightingmyalz.com where I can demonstrate that we can work against these diseases ourselves without compromising medical therapy's.
I am not able to work in a traditional job anymore, in part because I drive very little. However, I have the computer horsepower to build and maintain my sites at home. If I can generate enough money through this campaign to make all this possible I firmly believe that we can help other people and make their life and that of their caregivers a little better.
Please know that I deeply appreciate whatever donation you can make, however often you can. I know we all have our limits but a little from a lot of people is just as good a bunch from one person in the overall scheme of things.
Thank you for considering my efforts!
Now back to the Alzheimer's battle!
Text by Tom Hintz
Posted - 4-22-2017
While watching TV last night I realized that I have joined the ranks of cancer survivors, great news! However, in my case the fight is not over. Since being diagnosed with cancer around last Christmas the focus switched from fending off Alzheimer's to fighting the faster-acting cancer. Alzheimer's got pushed aside temporarily. Now that we have “beaten” cancer I must once again fight against the progression of Alzheimer's.
Double Duty Project
The good news is that between the orders of my doctors (and wife) to slow down for a while and the effort to keep my mind working as hard as I can to fend off Alzheimer's one project can serve both masters, so to speak. That is how the Best Medicine Project that I have been developing took the lead in both disease-fighting efforts.
The Best Medicine Project is based on the building of a Flex Innovations YAK 54 ARF. This is a new plane kit from a relatively new company headed by Quique Somenzini, a highly-regarded name in RC flying. While I will produce a full-on review of that plane, it will also serve as the background and foundation for a long series of How-To stories and Reviews. My email shows that all of these stories are in high demand on my site. Producing these stories will also represent many hours of the mental exercise that has helped me stay sharp mentally while I produce content for the pages of FlyingRC.net. Because I can do all this work at home the Best Medicine Project also helps me refrain from more strenuous activities my doctors and wife have forbidden for up to a few months.
You Can Help
FlyingRC.net has always been about the viewer and listening to their suggestions and requests. The Best Medicine Project is simply a more comprehensive way to service more of those needs. Most of the story ideas came from viewer suggestions while others were devised to fill gaps in the available on line info as reported by FlyingRC.net viewers. As the FlyingRC.net audience continues to grow the flow of content ideas grows at roughly the same pace. We are in no danger of running out of content ideas!
As always, keep your suggestions coming. The story list intentionally has no end. I will continue to add new ideas to the production list to be done as I complete current stories that service current questions and viewer ideas.
Because we immediately began chemo and radiation treatments when I was diagnosed with cancer I have essentially been unable to produce much content since last Christmas. Consequently, the operating budget for FlyingRC.net has shrunk to near nothing. This where the generosity of the FlyingRC.net viewers can have a huge impact on maintaining the sites growth and capacity to help the RC community through free content. You can make a difference by contributing to this GoFundMe page to keep me and the sites running!
Thanks for all your well wishes during the fight with cancer and before that the battle against Alzheimer's. Your thoughts and contributions are always greatly appreciated and make pushing back against these diseases easier.
How not to recover from major surgery
Text by Tom Hintz
Posted – 4-21-2017
Throughout my life, I have never been wealthy which often meant having to make money even when I didn’t feel like it. I often had to essentially will myself through sprains, bruises and in all likelihood way too many concussions. I actually got pretty good at making my “tweaked” body parts functional (enough) again. When I tried applying this “heal thyself” mentality to my recent major surgery my mind over matter capabilities faltered dramatically.
I was discharged from the hospital following my cancer surgery on a Thursday. The next day I talked the wife into driving me to the flying field so I could sit around there and fly a quad. Two flights and back home feeling worse for the effort but expecting that. The next day I drove myself to the field, got in several flights on my FPV foam plane and again went home feeling worse for wear but still thinking that was to be expected. On Sunday morning, I felt worse and was having trouble breathing set off warning bells even in my head so stayed home “to be smart” about it. I did manage to mow the lawn on Monday which did nothing good for how I was feeling.
By the time Tuesday came around I was having more trouble breathing but had an appointment to get my staples removed so went to the surgeon’s office for that. While there I mentioned the breathing difficulty and they referred me to my family doctor. My regular doctor told us to come right over.
After having an x-ray taken of my chest my doctor said that she wanted me to go to the hospital for a CT scan of my lungs as she suspected blood clots. I went and had the CT (contrasting) but was told I had to wait until I got the results before I could leave. Yes, everybody but me thought this was real trouble.
A nurse came to me in the waiting room with a phone with my doctor on it. She told me she was admitting me to the hospital again because I had a bunch of blood clots in my lungs and they thought they may had already affected my heart. I was not happy but knew not to refuse my small but feisty woman doctor that I respect a lot. She had after all, forced me to get the tests that found my cancer just in the nick of time.
In the hospital, I was started on blood thinners and given more tests. I wound up staying there two more days with a bunch of sophisticated scans and imaging on the second day to determine if there had been damage done and to gauge the extent of the clotting problem. It turned out that my heart was fine and the thinners had begun doing their work on the clots. I was given an oral blood thinner prescription and released last night (at this writing, 4-20-2017).
The moral of this story is that at some point even the most grandiose of us must admit that we are not as bullet proof as some of us (me) think we are. I was shocked at what I saw in the reflection of a glass window in the hospital as the young lady was pushing me and my wheelchair out to the exit. I saw the graying, bent over old man that I swore I would never allow myself to turn into. But, there I was and to make this revelation even more telling I was feeling worse than the reflection looked.
So, I surrender. I will follow the doctors’ orders. I will take a month or two off to let the blood thinners do their stuff and to let my body heal from a level of surgery that shocked many of the people in the hospital doing the tests I had when confronted by my still healing incisions. Plus, all that cutting went through a bunch of large muscles that also need a lot of time to fully heal. These muscles have the additional power to fire heavy-duty, sharp pains through various quadrants of the body when I think I can apply more pressure to them than they are capable of handling at the moment. My own body is telling me to wise up.
I will continue to write when I can, work (carefully) on projects that I can come up with for the site but force myself to do nothing but rest for extended periods of the coming days, weeks and perhaps a month or two. When the doctors give me the go ahead I will return to flying with a passion stoked by my medical banishment from the hobby I love so much. Stay tuned, I may be getting old but I am not done. And I must come up with a “therapy” project to keep me occupied at home and not the field for a while.
6 hours on the operating table and I still have my original voice!
Text and photos by Tom Hintz
Posted – 4-14-2017
Bright and early on April 4th, 2017 I presented myself at the local (very well regarded) surgical department for the operation to remove my cancerous tumor and involved tissue. I remember getting a few new plastic hospital bracelets (five total) and having an IV started. Then someone apparently sipped me a Micky and I don’t recall a thing for the next several hours. For me the real world reappeared in post op with me alive and the attending surgeon predicting I would stay that way at least for the immediate future.
It turns out that sleeping through the operation itself was for me the easiest part. Because I will have to experience the getting better part awake (sort of) the post-op recovery period has been kicking my butt in no uncertain terms. A lot of that can be attributed to the pair of very large incisions, one down my centerline just below the rib cage and the other sort of horizontally behind my right arm. Both appear to be large enough to let a football pass through. While unsettling to be sure, that’s all the visible stuff. The doctor tells me that they removed a bunch of my esophagus, some stomach, gall bladder and some lymph nodes. He also that the operation took over 6 hours to complete. Samples from the “margins” of the parts of me removed were taken and sent to the lab.
I spent the first two nights in intensive care to make sure I didn’t vapor lock altogether when no one was looking. The remaining 6 nights were in what is called a post-surgical unit that specializes in this kind of after-operation care. They have what are called “private room’s” but that is out of necessity as two people and the required equipment for this level of care just won’t fit in anything remotely looking like a single room.
I must say that throughout this adventure the staff at Carolinas Medical Center Northeast have been simply wonderful. I have never seen a more dedicated, caring group of people, even those tasked with caring for me.
My surgeon and all the supporting doctors are obviously very good with my surgeon being regarded as the best there is for this type of operation. Anyone who can make such large holes in me, go elbows-deep in my guts then staple me up to live another day while making my cancer disappear in the process must be a great surgeon.
The rest of the staff that I encountered were apparently some level of nursing. Their actual nursing skill level was never apparent as they all did everything professionally and with a surprising amount of compassion and care. Recovering from this kind of operation hurts a bunch and all the medications in the world won’t stop that altogether. Despite that somber bit of reality there was a surprising amount of laughter and good-nature ribbing in my room that went a long way to making my days there easier to deal with.
One thing that intrigued me was the interest from the surgeons on my post operation ability to fart. I’m sure a couple of them were sorry they brought it up when I whipped out the fart app on my cell phone and put a big one on them now and then. Careful what you ask for….
So now I am at home trying not to rush out to the flying field with my trailer and planes. The reality is that I feel way better than I have energy to back up. A walk to the other end of the house still slows me considerably so I can’t trust myself driving yet. I will limit my flying to FPV quads and the like.
My “pie in the sky” goal is to be giant scale capable in two or three weeks. Until then I must come up with a project that doesn’t involve heavy lifting but is capable of generating the content I need for the sites. As you might suspect, laying in a hospital bed does not generate project cash so it might take me a little while to get that or any of the upcoming projects underway.
Anyway, stay tuned. I am getting better, sometimes more slowly than I would like but I hope to be out to the field and in the shop sooner rather than later. Each morning I do a reality check that usually suggests that a slower pace would be smarter. But count on me pushing on, I don’t have time or the personal nature to take it too slow. I gots things to do!
Post Operation Note
While he was discharging me from the hospital my surgeon said that he had received the final report on the margins of the material he had removed during my operation, and the news is good. No cancer was found anywhere. Though there are no guarantees I am essentially cancer free right now. They will have to check in the future but for now I can focus on healing up, not on the next round of chemo, radiation or surgery. This kid dodges the big one again!
Also, there was some concern over my voice in my post-operation world. Because so many nerves are disrupted during this type of operation the voice can change. That could be particularly problematic for someone who is often recognized by the voice on my videos. It happened repeatedly at Joe Nall and even happened twice at our clubs opening fun fly of 2017. However, the news here is also good in that my voice appears to be intact and staying that way.
The rollercoaster continues
Several weeks ago, I completed 5 weeks of chemo and radiation therapy. While I felt good through most of that period, the final week was surprisingly tough but now a few weeks later I feel nearly normal. Of course, that means it’s time for surgery. The latest meeting with my surgeon ended with April 4th being the date of that surgery. I expected to be in the hospital a day or so before the surgery but apparently, I show up and get whisked away to the operating room, or something like that.
I have to admit that this whole ordeal has me spooked. Throughout my life, I have placed myself in harm’s way, like when at age 17 I volunteered to be an Army helicopter door gunner in Vietnam. I always had a sense of confidence that I would figure a way out when things got scary. One way or another I have avoided the big stuff, so far. This time though the circumstances are very different. I have to place all my confidence in the surgeon, his skills and judgement. Everything I hear about him is positive. My personal doctor told me that if she was having this surgery, this surgeon is who she would want doing it. Incidentally, my personal doctor is the one who more than likely saved my life when she refused to let me whine my way out of getting a scope down my throat to investigate what I considered a minor swallowing issue. It was that test that discovered the stage three cancer just in time.
I won’t act like I understand what is going to happen to me other than I will be losing a bunch of my stomach and esophagus. The ends of those two will be connected roughly where the remaining esophagus ends. For those who understand medical stuff I will be having an Ivor Lewis esophagectomy, cholecystectomy and jejunostomy. (I don’t have a clue if the spellings are right) Plus the removal of various other stuff like my gall bladder, lymph nodes and whatever else needs to go once he is in there.
The surgeon says I might be in the hospital for a week or so and the first day or two in the intensive care unit because “this is a big operation”, something that was a little unsettling to hear from the guy doing the cutting! He told me the operation would take around 5 hours to complete. He also advised me to push for something called an epidural when I meet with the anesthesiologist because the surgery will be “disturbing lots of nerves.” I should have stopped listening to him a little before that.
Another new experience has been making sure that my Living Will is ready to be implemented if I go South in the midst of all this. I have not been kind to my body for the last 60-some years so it would not be a huge surprise if something else decided to give up under the strain. The last thing I want is for me to be ringing up life support bills when that kind of effort makes no sense.
Yesterday we had the pre-op interview where they go over the sequence of events the morning of the surgery. They also drew blood to type and cross match in case I need a transfusion during the surgery. I also got a pair of plastic bracelets, one identifying me as a patient the other signifies my consent for a transfusion.
So, for the time being, you all will have to chat amongst yourselves. I am hoping to take a very long nap and wake up when all this surgery stuff is over with and I’m ready to go home and go flying. I am told that the healing process will take a few to several weeks, longer than I want but so far nobody has been asking me what I want anyway. I thought of trying to refuse the surgery but not getting a tumor removed sounds dumb even to me so I scrapped that plan.
Stay tuned! I will get back to writing updates when I can. I really don’t know how long that might be but am hopeful no more than a week or so after the hospital stay. Until then, go fly something fun!
My mother died of this horrible disease about ten years ago and it runs in the family. In my research I have found plenty of data about battling this internally besides working the brain. In short eliminating all chemicals in food i,e, use organic only ... grass fed beef, milk, cheese etc., free range chickens and pork and eggs, real organic olive oil and coconut oil and lots of greens and fruits all organic! I hope this can help you as I don't have cash to donate so good luck and I enjoy your site very much thank you roger
You are blessed more than most. I have occasionally tuned in over the years and seen. I couldn't afford a fraction of what you have in your shop or fly. Don't get depressed. I have known this illness as well as my own a very long time, and yes most do run for the hills when they find out. $25g's is chicken feed my friend. As typical memory ward care is $6g's a month. I had to give up flying long ago as my friends were not. I was a Vietnam era vet with a problem. Cherish what you have, a good attitude, as it is gratitude. I do.