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Letter to the Class #2
Here's a letter I sent to my class last week. I am amazed how much has changed in just one week.  It helps to measure time in weeks, not days...
March 18, 2010
Hi Everyone,
    I thought i would give you an update on how things are going for me and what I have been up to. First of all, I miss you all very much and can’t wait to get back to doing what I think I am good at. I am not so good at sitting too much and worrying, which has happened a bit too much lately. 
    So I had my last chemo drip about 3 weeks ago and the last radiation zap 2 weeks ago. Finally!  I was kind of expecting to start feeling better right away and feel excited to have some time off with no appointments and such.  What I wasn’t prepared for was how both chemo and radiation “build up” and reach their strongest at the end. That meant I felt really weak and sick. It was hard to do anything without feeling like I would throw up or start sweating, or coughing or some part of my head would hurt.  I ended up in ER a couple of times. Can’t seem to stay away from those places. I wish I could get frequent visitor rewards or something. Anyways, they had to help keep me hydrated because I wasn’t getting enough water. Partly because of pain and partly because I was too stubborn to use the feeding tube.  I think I have learned that lesson.
    Also, another thing I wasn’t really prepared for was how scary the end of treatment would be for me. You would think it would be a happy day, but after the last visit I started thinking too much. Now I was really on my own and it was a really shocking realization. No teams of Drs. and Nurses with me all the time and doing things to me. No one telling what to do and when to do it. When it comes to health and such, I am no expert. It has been my new job to take over my own care. I realized no one was going to do it for me. I have become my own “bossy nurse.” I make myself get enough nutrition(calories), take my pills on time, drink, use the feeding tube, exercise, whatever, and I keep a schedule of EVERYTHING! I even make myself take 3-4 sips of water every 15 minutes while watching tv or reading a book.  
    So, I am slowly feeling better each day.  Some things are still really frustrating to me, like taste. I can’t taste anything. I am forcing myself to chew and swallow food more for the exercise of my mouth and throat muscles than because I like what I put into my mouth.  The radiation is what gets your taste buds. They say most people get their taste back in time. I sure hope I do. It would be great. But you may be interested to know I don’t drink any soda at all anymore. I don’t think I ever will again and don’t really mind at all. The other thing I don’t really care about is candy or cookies.  Weird, huh? They say cancer changes things, I bet you never thought it would change my 44 ounce diet pepsi habit? I didn’t. I figured I may as well lose some bad habits and start some good ones while I am able.
    Another thing that’s a bit frustrating to me is how easily I cry about stuff. I will walk outside and see a sunny day and start bawling.  Or I will drop something and tears just leak out.  My emotions are all “right there” on the edge. It can be embarrassing, but mostly it’s a good thing to just let them out, I guess.
    Every day I go for a walk for an hour or so to keep my blood moving.  And I have been helping watch the grand babies a lot the past couple of days. They are pretty funny to play with.
    I plan on spending a few more weeks getting my strength back. I can’t wait to see you all again. Hopefully you are all well and doing your best.
Mr. Skinner

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Hey, David!
The kids all miss you so much!!! And the "J" boys need you! While things are going well, it isn't the same without you. Did you know our New Mexico girl has returned early? My "J" boy got all moody that day and it took me a while to figure out that he couldn't remember if she had left before or after you did. It brought up all kinds of memories and feelings of your leaving for him. I hope you are healthy enough to come back in May. There isn't nearly enough sarcasm, nor obscure references for me to enjoy without you.

So many of those kids are so lucky to have had you 2 years in a row. They do love and miss you. It is funny about you being so emotional. Not always easy for men to admit. I still remember as a kids calling my grandfather and having him answer. "Grandpa," I would say. Then I would have to wait what seemed 5 minutes. All I could hear on the other line was him trying to regain composure. I admired that.
Can't wait to see you back at work.

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