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I’m Fully Vaccinated, Will Continue Wearing A Mask In Public

May 20, 2021 Featured, Steve Patterson Comments Off on I’m Fully Vaccinated, Will Continue Wearing A Mask In Public
Federal rules still require masks on buses, trains, boats and planes

The CDC says since I’m fully vaccinated I can go into public buildings without needing to wear a mask. Well, that’s the big overview leaving out important details. I’ll get to those but first a quick review of how we got to this point.

On Friday March 21, 2020 St. Louis Health Commissioner Dr. Frederick Echols  issued a stay at home order for the City of St. Louis, effective Monday March 23, 2020. A similar order was issued in St. Louis County. At this point masks weren’t required, but in hindsight they should’ve been.

On the day the stay at home order began St. Louis announced the first Covid-related death. On Friday the 27th and Monday 30th I had CT/Bone scans & cancer treatment at the Center for Advanced Medicine, respectively. Masks still weren’t required by Metro, BJC/Wash U, or the city.

On Friday April 3, 2020 the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended the voluntary use of masks in public. The following Monday we received some homemade masks from my sister-in-law in California.  The next day, Tuesday April 7, 2020, I had minor outpatient surgery at the new Park Tower to install a power port in my chest to make my intravenous cancer treatments easier, masks were required. My husband wasn’t allowed to come back before and after the surgery even with a mask.

The following Saturday (4/11/2020) St. Louis first recommended the use of masks in public.  On July 1, 2020 St. Louis city & county issued a mask mandate.

I still don’t like masks, they pull on my ears and I have to remove my glasses as they fog over. However, I’m used to it now. We’ve eaten out numerous times during the pandemic, which we’ve enjoyed.

Last month the CDC said small groups of vaccinated people could gather, maskless. We got to visit and hug a friend on April 25, 2021, we hadn’t seen her in a over a year. A week ago today the CDC made a big announcement on masks.

People fully vaccinated against Covid-19 do not need to wear masks or practice social distancing indoors or outdoors, except under certain circumstances, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday.  (CNN)

States, cities, and businesses began dropping their mask requirements — for fully vaccinated people. Masks are still required for public transportation (planes, trains, buses, etc), healthcare facilities, and such.

On Saturday we went to Costco in south county, some customers weren’t wearing masks. We were. Yesterday I went to Schnucks downtown, same thing. It feels weird being indoors with my unmasked strangers.

Just over 34 percent of St. Louis County residents are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. That’s an increase of 2.5 percent in the past week.

In St. Louis City, more than 26.5 percent of people have finished their vaccinations. This is a jump of over 2 percent. (Fox2)

With such a low percentage fully vaccinated I wonder if non-vaccinated are using this as a way to shop without wearing a mask. I know the science says I’m still highly protected, but it’s not 100% guaranteed. I’m not immune compromised, but my immune system needs to stay focused on keeping my tumors from growing. For me it’s just not worth the risk, putting on a mask for a quick trip into a store is no big deal to me at this point. Most of the time when I leave home I take MetroLink to Siteman Cancer Center, so masks are required anyway.

If you’re not vaccinated please get the vaccine, it’s easy. I felt bad the day after my 2nd Pfizer shot, but that’s a small price to pay for peace of mind. I get if you’re hesitant, a friend in her early 70s who’s fearful of the vaccine. My brother-in-law doesn’t want to be a government “lab rat.”

I look forward to the day I can ride the bus, or get treatment without needing a mask.

— Steve Patterson

 

Thinking of Marti Frumhoff While Accepting My Own Mortality

May 16, 2021 Featured, Steve Patterson Comments Off on Thinking of Marti Frumhoff While Accepting My Own Mortality
Marti Frumhoff, 1957-2007

Fourteen years ago today St  louis booster Marti Frumhoff died unexpectedly. Three months earlier we’d celebrated our birthdays at the sushi restaurant that used to be at Grand & Arsenal. Our birthdays were ten years and 5 days apart — she turned 50 just five days before I turned 40.

Ms. Frumhoff also became an advocate for the revitalization of St. Louis. She organized and founded several groups that educate agents and prospective home buyers about city living.

She founded the St. Louis Rehabbers Club in 2000. The organization helps people network and share information about renovations and remodeling in the city.

Ms. Frumhoff was also a member of the “We Love the City” Realtors Breakfast Club. The “Big, Big Tour,” an annual tour of city neighborhoods highlighting homes for sale in various price ranges, grew out of that group.

Ms. Frumhoff was a board member of Metropolis St. Louis and a member of Save the Century, an effort to prevent the demolition of the Century Building downtown. (Findagrave)

Marti was home alone, likely had a heart attack. I’m not a fan of death rituals, but I liked how the huge crowd at the Jewish cemetary took turns shoveling dirt onto the casket.

A month before my 41st birthday I had a massive stroke, also while home along. At the time I was certain I’d die. It was 15-16 hours before a worried friend found me, but at least I was still alive.  I came back home from the 3rd therapy hospital three months later, barely able to walk.

I’d think about Marti as I wrote about issues facing St. Louis, asking myself “what would Marti do?” Had she lived no doubt she’d be involved in fighting to improve the city, and region.

In the Fall of 2019 I was diagnosed with stage IV renal cell carcinoma (aka kidney cancer). Stage IV means the cancer has metastasized — spread to other parts of the body. I’ve had twenty immunotherapy treatments so far, my scans still show the tumors as “stable”, though there’s now evidence it has spread to my bones. Another drug will be injected along with my regular intravenous drug to stop the spread in my bones, the downside is a high risk of osteoporosis.

For a while now I’ve been working on getting my affairs in order while also trying to enjoy the present. It’s a very weird balance. When my husband and I recently visited the Missouri Botanical Gardens it was a lovely day but I was thinking it could well be my last time there, same with other non-daily activities.

A few days ago a friend of more than two decades had a second stroke in a week, only a few knew about the first mini-stroke. He died at home, alone.

Hopefully I still have a few more years left before my time is up. Although it’s weird to know I’ll die sooner rather than later I’m very grateful to have time with my husband until then. Not a day goes by I don’t think about the luxury of having time to keep enjoying life, too many don’t get any advance notice.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

So Long 2020: Too Much Death

December 30, 2020 Featured, Steve Patterson Comments Off on So Long 2020: Too Much Death
Didn’t have a dumpster fire photo, so this October 16th McKee warehouse fire will have to do representing 2020.

Most agree 2020 was, overall, an awful year. So much death. Not just from COVID-19, murders in St. Louis also set records. As of December 24th 254 people had been murdered in the city.

St. Louis has seen a nearly 25% increase in the number of homicides over the same period in 2019.

This year is the deadliest year in St. Louis’ history on a per capita basis. In 1993, 267 people were fatally shot, but the city had about 80,000 more residents. (KSDK)

There’s no vaccine to keep our murder rate from going up, no treatment has been found to lower it permanently.

When 2020 began I wasn’t sure if I’d make it to 2021. In December 2019 I received my first two immunotherapy treatments stage 4 kidney cancer. My to do list for 2020 included checking off bucket list items and making final arrangements should the treatment not work.

In early February I got the first news — the treatments prevented the tumors from growing! I was very happy and thought this was going to be a good year. I began thinking about making a 2-week solo trip to Chicago in April. As I was about to buy a round trip ticket on Amtrak everything went into lockdown.

In April, instead of a trip to Chicago, I had surgery to install a power port in my chest. I inherited my mom’s tricky veins, so this little device is connected to a jugular vein making blood draws and intravenous treatments much easier. We’d received homemade masks from my sister-in-law the day before my surgery.

Unlike so many, I’m still here. I’m actually optimistic I’ll see at least 2022. At some point in the 2nd half of 2021 it’ll be less risky to travel, eat out, etc. Unfortunately I’m not optimistic about crime in St. Louis being substantially reduced.

— Steve Patterson

 

This Blog’s Sweet 16, Plus My Cancer Treatment Is Working Well

October 31, 2020 Featured, Site Info, Steve Patterson Comments Off on This Blog’s Sweet 16, Plus My Cancer Treatment Is Working Well

It’s Halloween which means it’s the anniversary of this blog — the 16th to be specific! What a year it has been since the last anniversary.

Site plan of MLS stadium occupying the former 22nd Street interchange right of way.

Here’s an incomplete list:

  • Design for MLS stadium unveiled
  • Properties owned by T.E.H. Properties a major problem
  • Metro announced changes coming to the CWE MetroLink station, include a moved elevator and wider stairs.
  • Missouri began issuing licenses for medical marijuana cultivators, dispensaries, etc.
  • Controversy over Paul McKee’s plan to name his 3-bed urgent care facility at the former Pruitt-Igoe site Homer G. Phillips. This was the name of the former African-American teaching hospital in the Ville neighborhood.
  • The effort to privatize our airport was suddenly ended.
  • Efforts were still underway to build a hyperloop to connect St. Louis & Kansas City. Months later this came to a halt when another project was selected for a hyperloop.
  • The XFL began playing and St. Louis fans loved having football again. The XFL shutdown completely shortly after it began, filed for bankruptcy protection, was bought out of bankruptcy and new owners plan to restart it in 2022.
  • Larry Arnowitz resigned as alderman, was indicted for personal use of campaign funds.
  • The city shut down as the COVID-19 pandemic began, it reopened months later. The region has had a myriad of restrictions. Infection & hospitalization rates have been a roller coaster.
  • The Eads Bridge pedestrian walkway west entrance was finally repaired, once again accessible.
  • Work began on the windowless north addition of the former Post-Dispatch building, it’ll be the new main entrance when Square’s St. Louis offices move from Cortex to the renovated building.
  • Black Lives Matter protests began nationwide.
  • Progressive activist Cori Bush defeated 10-term congressman Lacy Clay in the August 2020 primary.
  • Our expansion MLS team announced their name: St. Louis CITY S.C.
  • Late night racing in downtown streets and the Eads Bridge prompted temporary closures, changes.
  • Medical marijuana sales began in Missouri.

A year ago at this time I was having tests done to confirm what my primary physician saw in my annual physical chest x-ray. His suspicions were correct: cancer. Specifically stage IV kidney cancer. In cancers Stage IV means the cancer has spread beyond where it originated.

Before my treatment began tests were showing the tumors/lesions rapidly increasing in size. From the first scans after the first treatment we knew it was working — all the tumors had stopped growing. Ideally you want them to shrink and go away, but not growing is good.

Nothing specific to see here, I can’t find the clear left/right difference images the way my oncologist can.
Another bone scan & CT scan on Monday, then every 12 weeks.

The following are excerpts from my most recent CT scan 7 weeks ago. Summary (1-4), followed by detail. I’ve added translation in brackets, the emphasis in main text is mine:

1. Bilateral renal masses, left greater than right which are similar
to the prior examination.

2. Metastasis to the mediastinum [membrane between lungs] and hilar region [entry/exit to lungs] The right hilar metastasis is slightly smaller. The rest of the mediastinal [between sternum, spine, lungs] metastasis are stable.

3. Right upper lobe pulmonary [lungs] metastasis which is smaller.

4. Large right posterolateral [back, side] chest wall mass which is stable, with
destruction of the adjacent ribs 7 and 8.

CHEST: Noted again are innumerable metastasis throughout the chest.
Bulky lymphadenopathy seen throughout the mediastinum.

Large heterogeneous masses are seen within the thyroid gland, right
greater than left, stable.

Large right paratracheal lymphadenopathy measures 6.5 x 4.5 cm,
similar to the prior examination. Lower in the mediastinum, there is
a right pretracheal mass that measures 6.7 x 6.6 cm on image 56,
previously measuring 7 cm x 6.6 cm. Left hilar metastasis measures 4
cm x 3.4 cm, previously measuring 4.7 x 3.5 cm. Additional right
hilar and subcarinal metastasis are seen. The right hilar mass
measures 5 cm x 3 cm, previously measuring 5.3 x 4.3 cm.

There is a very large multiloculated hypervascular mass in the right
chest wall, which measures 14 cm x 11 cm, similar to the prior exam.
There is no pericardial effusion. There is no pleural effusion.

Lung windows: Within the anterior segment of the right upper lobe,
there is a 2.3 x 1. 2 cm mass, which previously measured 3.8 x 2.6
cm
. Unchanged 6 mm left lower lobe pulmonary nodule.

ABDOMEN:

Noted again is a very large heterogeneous mass in the left kidney
compatible with renal cell carcinoma. Multiple collaterals are seen
medial to the mass. Overall, this mass appears stable.

Several exophytic smaller masses are seen arising from the right
kidney, also stable. There is an inferior vena caval filter in
place.

Bones: Spine is normal. The sternum is normal. Multiple destructed
ribs are seen embedded within the previously noted posterior chest
right chest wall mass.

Still reading? In short I’ve got lots of tumors, but two have shrank in size — this is the first time I’ve had a scan that showed any shrinkage. I have several ribs that are destroyed because of a large tumor.

What does all this mean? It means my chances of being part of the 12% to survive at least five years have improved.  I’m participating in a clinical trial, but I don’t know if the medication I take each night are placebo or the drug being tested on kidney cancer. I get an intravenous drug every month that’s routinely used for kidney cancer. The clinical trial is trying to determine if the combination of the IV and the nightly pill are effective in treating kidney cancer, it is already proven to work with other cancers.

The bottom line is I’ll always have cancer, treatment is about extending my lifespan. A year ago I wasn’t sure I’d make the 16th anniversary of this blog. Today I expect to celebrate another anniversary a year from now.

— Steve Patterson

 

30 Years in St. Louis

August 28, 2020 Featured, Steve Patterson Comments Off on 30 Years in St. Louis
Me pre-stroke in the December 2006 issue of St. Louis Magazine, this was near my heaviest weight of 275-300lbs. Photo by Dillip Vishwanat

It was three decades ago that I officially moved to St. Louis, from Oklahoma City. I’d planned to move to Washington DC, but instantly fell in love with St. Louis on the way.

The building stock and street grid called for me to stay. Many buildings needed renovation but even pre-renovation the proportions, massing, details, and spectacular brickwork were unlike anything I’d seen before. The potential of the city was enormous. 

The renovated Union Station and St. Louis Centre each were only 5 years old. Vincent Schoemehl was in his 3rd/last term as mayor of St. Louis. The Circuit Attorney was George Peach, but his hypocritical behavior would catch up to him just over a year later.

I missed being counted in the 1990 census by six months. The total that year was 396,685, more than a 12% drop from the 1980 census. I have been counted as a St. Louis resident in three census (2000, 2010,2020). Next year we’ll learn the results of the 2020 census, St. Louis’ population will likely drop below 300k. Thus, in my time here roughly 100,000 people have left.

Seems too few saw the potential I did 30 years ago. Or they recognized it but were also unable to reverse negative reality & perceptions about the city. My first weeks in my new apartment the manager advised me to not venture north of Delmar. You can’t change what so many willingly continue to perpetuate.

The point where I spent half of my life in St. Louis came 7 years ago, in 2013. I’ve now been blogging for more than half of my years in St. Louis, this Halloween will be the 16th anniversary of this blog.  The last third of my time here has been on disability, unable to work. When I came out in 1983 the idea of same-sex marriage wasn’t even on my radar, but I’ve been married twenty percent of my years in St. Louis. I’m on my 7th address, my 5th zip code.

With Stage IV Kidney cancer I know I won’t make it to a 4th census in St. Louis, a fact I’ve come to accept.  The treatment is keeping my tumors “stable”, but there will be a point when treatments will no longer be effective. 

I now weigh 165 lbs, about what I did in 1990.

Days before my 2008 stroke I looked into getting a burial plot at Bellefontaine Cemetary, but after I arranged with Washington University School of Medicine to donate my body for research. The point when treatment no longer works I’ll likely have a party to celebrate my life while I’m still here.

In the meantime I’m going to continue exploring, writing, suggesting, etc.

— Steve Patterson

 

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