Dilaudid Dreams

Ok, folks, here we go.

If you’ve been a regular reader of mine, you know that I try to write a blog every few weeks to give both my friends and fellow cancer survivors regular updates on my condition. This can be challenging at times, considering that my condition has now moved into a more critical stage.

I entered hospice care back in December with the understanding that any further cancer treatment would be palliative, basically because the care I was receiving, a drug called Pluvicto, was falling short on any kind of cure or even a hold for my particular brand of prostate cancer. My PSA dropped a little, but certainly not enough to start a party or ring any bells.

And, with my latest setback being a broken femur and constant hip and pelvis pain, the decision was made to just try to make me as comfortable as possible as I entered the last stage of my life.

Seems pretty cut and dried, eh? Chill out at home while riding a wave of narcotics that keep me calm and comfortable. I envisioned myself slowly drifting off to sleep and then into the arms of the Lord for some eternal rest.


Well, funny thing is, it really hasn’t worked out that way. First off, finding the right drug that gives me pain relief and also doesn’t bind me up tighter than a snare in a 4 piece jazz ensemble has been a challenge for my docs. Look, I’m down with getting rid of the pain, but if it comes with a unhealthy dose of nuclear constipation, that complicates things a bit.

Also, I kinda wanted to avoid walking around like an extra in a zombie movie. Having meaningful conversations with loved ones and friends is important to me, and laying in bed with my tongue lolling out of my mouth while Nurse Rachett gives me more pills seemed counterproductive to that goal.

So, a few different drugs were called into play. OxyContin was the first drug of choice. Oxy did a great job with the pain, and I didn’t feel too wigged out, although I’m sure Holly and Travis could give you a different report on that. But it bound me up pretty good, and not pooping was a problem. Also, the Oxy slowly became less effective with the pain, sooooooo….what’s next?

My doc went to the mound, and put out the call to the bullpen for good ol morphine. Morphine has been around around a long time, and is a very effective pain reliever, albeit with a big ol helping of side effects. But, back in 1981, I developed hives while on a morphine drip, so, yeah, my docs weren’t that thrilled with giving me that particular pain reliever.

My current pain reliever. Ignore the orange ball on top of the machine. It’s Zoey’s.

So, let me introduce you to my latest pain reliever, dilaudid, which is delivered to my body through a portable pain pump. Since starting on this particular regiment, my need for additional pain relievers has dropped dramatically. It also has allowed me to become more mobile, since the meds are delivered in a pump that I can carry around. If you’ve paid attention to my regular Facebook page, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve actually gotten out into the real world now and then.

Which, I’m sure for a lot of you, is confusing. Like, wait, I thought Dan was laying in his death bed, waiting for the guy with the black hoodie and scythe to come calling. How is he going to a bar and having a cocktail with the wife like it’s a regular Saturday?

It’s the dilaudid. I feel better, with less pain, so I’m able to feel like a regular member of society. A cold beer tastes a little funny, so I’m more apt to go with a fruity cocktail, but hey, beggars can’t be choosers. That’s a side effect I can live with.

Me and my lovely wife Holly enjoying a drink at a local watering hole. Thanks dilaudid!

Other side effects with dilaudid? Tiredness. And when I say tiredness, I mean bone weary, fade away and fall asleep in the middle of a sentence, tiredness. I’m a podcast listener, but lately it’s become very difficult to follow a pod when I have to keep going back to a previous point the podcaster was trying to make. Once again, another side effect I can live with.

(I like to listen to sports and politics pods, but I also like true crime pods. And yes, I’m aware that true crime pods are more of a “chick” thing, but hey, after being on Lupron for the past 8 years, I might as well take advantage of that emerging side of my personality.)

But, with the tiredness also comes the side effect of not being able to write that well. If you are currently reading this blog, well, congratulations, your reading what is probably draft #20 of this current iteration of Fishrocks. It hasn’t been pretty. I mean, I don’t consider myself the second coming of Hemingway or Faulkner, but jeez, I’ve written some drafts that have been downright 6th grade essay test level material. Woof.

Another side effect that I didn’t think would have much on an effect on my life is how the dilaudid has put me on a roller coaster of good and bad moods. Which confuses my docs, my nurses, my loved ones, my friends and finally, me. There are days when I feel like this is my last, that laying in my bed for another few hours will be the end of me.

But then, I wake up in the morning and whadya know, I feel way better. From puking the night before to, “Hey, let’s go out for coffee!”

It’s confusing, and it’s throwing people off. My doc and nurse sometimes think I’m on my last legs but then hey, maybe he’s got a couple more weeks yet.

My body is breaking down, and my cancer is still trying to kill me. But my body is also pretty strong. Remember, before all this latest stuff came down in November, Zoey and I were still going out for walks everyday. It’s not like I was bedridden and weak.

I’m getting weaker. I’m not eating much and I’ve lost weight. I can’t remember the last time I was truly hungry. But, I’m also enjoying life watching sports with Travis, and just marveling at the overall cuteness of my grandson JJ. Holly and I have had some special times together, too. We’ve cried in each other’s arms, but have also laughed while sharing a plate of nachos at a local dive.

So, hospice is a what it is. It can be comforting and calming, like this is where I need to be. But it can also be confusing and like, is this where I need to be? I’ve never done this before, so you’ll have to bear with me as I try to figure this out.

In the mean time, keep praying for Holly and my family, because it truly helps. But, if I can ask, don’t just pray for my soul or my overall feeling of contentment. Please pray for me to have some discernment on what God wants me to say. Figuring that out has been tough for me. What does a flawed factory worker turned blogger have to say to the world about the death and dying process? What can we learn?

Wow, I think I just wrote a whole blog. Got through it all, I did. Time for a nice prune juice cocktail. Also, I think someone’s at the door. Nice hoody! And where did you get that kick-ass scythe?

Thanks for reading.


10 thoughts on “Dilaudid Dreams

  1. Thanks for sharing dear brother. I’m very interested to hear of your experience as I may be close behind you in mine. I’m awaiting acceptance for Pluvicto. I just got out of the hospital after experiencing excruciating pain in my left leg. They say it was shingles and not metastatic cancer related . That was a relief. I’ve been on morphine for the pain and I stopped last night to see if I still need it. I feel your pain brother. I’m glad to hear you have faith in God and we know ‘ His mercies are new every morning, great is His faithfulness’. May He speak to you and impart wisdom and vitality. He has raised the dead He has healed us but our bodies haven’t got the message yet. Today, May our bodies respond to our spirit declaring “ by His wounds we were healed”. Let us arise in newness of health giving all the glory to Christ Jesus our beloved Lord. 🙏

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  2. I’m saving this post for the info on that drug you like. I’m not far behind you. Been on Lupron since 2011, numerous other drugs, immunotherapy, and this Friday will be my 33 chemotherapy. Enjoy the life we are given brother as long as we can. A fellow Michigander. Take care!

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  4. May your journey be peaceful. Thank you for sharing yourself and your journey. You fought hard for yourself and your family. May they find comfort in your love for them.

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  5. We continue to pray for you and your entire family ! I want to thank you for your persistence in writing the blog, being vulnerable, transparent and courageous!

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  6. Hey Dan, great to hear you are getting some comfort and mobility. Fingers, toes and everything else crossed hoping for better times ahead. I trust the spirit and humour that comes through in your posts is with you often. Cheers, Phil

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  7. I have read all of your writings. You are making a difference !!! A good one! God gave you the gift of writing and I personally have been blessed reading your post. Thank you !

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  8. I’m so proud of you and who you’ve become thru this all. Your blogs are very interesting and I look forward to reading them when they come. I’m glad to hear that you got out and about into the real world of crazies. There’s nothing good going on down here on this earth lately, kinda scary everywhere you go and when the streetlights come on it’s time to be inside. It’s sad but God is in control of it all so when you see him just run into his arms and rest. We will all be there soon enough.

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  9. I’m early (hopefully) in my journey, have a large army of people that from what they tell me are praying for me. I have asked politely that they save some of those prayers for when I reach your situation and that I maintain the grace and dignity you are showing as reaching the kingdom gets closer. On my selfish end I have found journaling on Caringbridge to be my own form of therapy and just hoping that I can find the strength and resilience to continue like you. Godspeed to you and yours.

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  10. Dan you have been such an inspiration to my husband Wes and myself making us feel less worried and more connected to others battling this disease. Clearly God uses all kids of people to gently share their stories and his messages of hope. My husband has stage four with Mets to the liver and brain(apparently he is extra special) no bone involvement which is rare but we are still here still fighting and are so appreciative of your blogs they fill us with courage and definitely make the burden lighter! May God bless you on this journey and we will certainly pray for you ,Holly and family!


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