Saturday, December 24, 2016

You probably saved his life

Christmas Eve and I'm spending a quiet evening in front of the tree. Although a few crafts were produced, for the most part this has been a rather non materialistic celebration. In part this stems from our upcoming family trip to Tampa next month, the addition of two grandchildren to be festive with and most importantly our combined relief at being able to celebrate with improved health. Nothing like a tussle with cancer to reorder your priorities. 

Yesterday I finished my final chemotherapy - yeehaw six cycles down - and the six year old grandson who had patiently waited with his grandfather in the waiting room rang the bell for me after asking "why do they call it treatments if they don't give you a treat?" Almost surreal to think that it's over as it's been the focus of my life for months now. This past week has been celebratory with the countdown advent calendar, an early morning visit from one of my sister-in-laws who brought wine and snacks and announced "I just came to tell you how proud I am of you, you made it through!", multiple messages from friends and family near and far and a champagne toast Thursday evening in anticipation. 

Saw the surgeon at my clinic visit last week and will have my first three monthly checkup in March. When I asked Dr Grimshaw about returning to work, I explained that the shore captain had sold his business and was supposedly retired (more on that later) due in part to my illness so was not too keen on my working and he congratulated my other half and said "that's wonderful, she probably saved your life!" and repeated it firmly when mister chuckled as if it was a joke. Permission for return to work was granted and I had my GP fill in the forms for my employer as he agreed to a month in May to try it on. Who knows if I will really enjoy it as much as I think I will? Maybe I won't continue but…no way to tell that from here, gotta try it on to find out. I am SO looking forward to doing that. Have convinced the shore captain to accompany me (as my employer would've paid for him to travel in and out every rotation actually) but now he has time so will plan to come in goose hunting for a few weeks. As you can see, there won't be a problem with finding geese to hunt:


Our trip of last week involved a stop at the Souls Harbour RESCUE Mission to drop off filled stockings for homeless folks, some more crocheted hats and a warm jacket donated by a neighbour. Truly felt the spirit of the season move me as I handed over the armfuls of donations. Will have to get my crochet hook going and whip up more hats as the winter continues. We visited with a long term friend who was in hospital awaiting surgery and it was nice to have the time together as I have become quite the expert on 'how to be a patient' this past year. A trip across the bridge to visit with our three month old granddaughter who was lying under the tree as she thinks the tree lights are a wonderful invention. I had crocheted her a snowman hat but one of the hazards of not having your model in house is….it was waaayyyy too big and will fit her next year. Seems to me that I've made that mistake before….I did do another version which actually fit when she came to stay for a few days and I was able to try it on her as I created it. Much colder last week and a buddy commented about being glad to not be a brass monkey and we agreed as we enjoyed a lovely supper at La Frasca (a great Italian restaurant on Spring Garden Road) and then trotted out briskly in the cold night air back to the Lord Nelson to collapse for the night.

This week our visit included a some seafood chowder and biscuits made in house at the daughters (while the shore captain and grandson shopped for a side by side - photo on left)
and supper delivered to my now post op friend who lives nearby. Glad to see that she's recovering nicely and heading on to the next phase of the journey in her usual style. Back to spend the evening enjoying some charcuterie and wine then seafood chowder and biscuits, topped off with lemon tarts. Ahhh. We opened our modest presents to each other and generally enjoyed ourselves. The nurse daughter is working 24, 25, 26 and 27 so this was her major Christmas celebration. My nurse friend (who hadn't seen the baby since she was a newborn) dropped by for a visit and we caught up on the news. I had given our grandson an audio book of birdsongs and he was tutored in Australian fowl by my Aussie nurse friend (Canadian now for 30 yrs) and as she readied for home he asked her if she'd be home by tonight on her flight. We explained she lived across the bridge, not in Australia now. Since this is on his 'to visit' list including Africa and Chinese he took a keen interest. Cute! Crawled into our beds and slept like logs after all those festivities. 

The wonder of Christmas through the eyes of a child who still believes in Santa is enjoyment we've not experienced for some years and have forgotten how much fun it was…I put the reindeer cam on for our grandson. This is a webcam from the Shubenacadie Wildlife Park where one of the employees wears a Santa suit and feeds the reindeer grain and carrots at 9am and 3pm. "Santa waved at me" he said as he wove back and I said "Santa is watching you" and he solemnly agreed that "Santa watches EVERYONE". When I tried to get him settled for bed that evening he said "sometimes my eyes don't want to let me sleep Nanuk" but we agreed that he should try and less than two minutes later he was out for the count. 

Although the shore captain had promised to only spend three weeks in the transition after selling the business these have been long weeks He joked that he slowed down to 80 hr weeks and that's not far off. Leaving before dawn, back long after dark and putting in almost a full day on weekends is not what retired people do for fun I've advised him. The 'new' plan is that after the holidays he will move his files etc to his man cave and not visit the plant on a daily basis. I understand this is tough for him as he was seriously addicted to work and had no plan as to what he'd do if not keeping that pace but….it soon has to fall into place…or else! Getting up in the morning and heading to the plant before 7 am (or earlier) every day of the week and no plan? Of course you can see there'd be issues with this can't you? However, mister did not so this has been a steep learning curve for him. Sigh. 

Guess the only solution for the above mentioned 'retirement blues' is to travel then. We'll be doing a pretty good job of it then this winter when the tally is two weeks in Tampa in January/February with the family, two weeks in Curacao snorkelling with just the ole fella and me (to replace the cancelled DR vacation) in February/March, a month in Cuba in April to see the oldest daughter marry her Cuban boyfriend. Away two of the four months….yeah we can handle that. 

Today we had a short visit with the prodigal son and girlfriend before they left for supper with her family and will not have them for Christmas dinner as he plans to head out lobstering tomorrow evening. The boy captain has done well, catching as many lobsters in one day (9000 lbs) as entire seasons when his father was on the water. I whipped up a batch of red river cereal bread, pear tart, cranberry pudding and mincemeat pie and we enjoyed a charcuterie board of our own choosing for supper. Started sprouts in the sprouter I purchased (Merry Christmas to me) as I'm practicing for north - gotta get my greens. Oh yes, we are eating well. 

So, for all of you who have sent lovely messages of encouragement or Christmas cards and not received a word from me….my apologies. I've been so wrapped up in this crazy schedule of appointments etc. that I've not had time for the smaller pleasures in life. Just wanted you all to know how much the support and positive energy, prayers etc. continue to mean to me. My hair has regrown quickly and it's a kinky salt and pepper now that is not as soft as my original but….will be okay without a wig by the time we leave for vacation. My fingernails are chipped and discoloured but a manicure takes care of that. So now if you'll excuse me I'll get on with my job at present which is becoming completely well. I leave you with a playlist for survivors:

Everything Will be OK Playlist 

  1. "Float On," Modest Mouse
  2. "Be OK," Ingrid Michaelson
  3. "Don't Stop," Fleetwood Mac
  4. "The Middle," Jimmy Eat World
  5. "Let Go," Frou Frou
  6. "You Can't Always Get What You Want," The Rolling Stones
  7. "Trouble," TV on the Radio
  8. "Here Comes the Sun," Nina Simone
  9. "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," The Ukulele Boys
  10. "Everything Is Alright," Motion City Soundtrack
  11. "Odds Are," Barenaked Ladies
  12. "Hold On," Tom Waits
  13. "This Too Shall Pass," OK Go
  14. "All Will Be Well," The Gabe Dixon Band
  15. "I Can See Clearly Now," Johnny Nash
  16. "More Adventurous," Rilo Kiley
  17. "Better Things," Passion Pit
  18. "A Better Place, a Better Time," Streetlight Manifesto
  19. "Safe and Sound," Capital Cities
  20. "If I Ever Leave This World Alive," Flogging Molly
  21. "Lullaby," Shawn Mullins
  22. "It's Gonna Be (Alright)", Ween
  23. "Sunshine," Atmosphere
  24. "Everything'll Be Alright," Joshua Radin
  25. "Swim," Jack's Mannequin
  26. "Lovely Day," Bill Withers
  27. "Everything Will Be Alright," The Killers
  28. "Gravity Rides Everything," Modest Mouse
  29. "Pompeii," Bastille
  30. "Dry the Rain," The Beta Band
  31. "Good Vibrations," The Beach Boys
  32. "Mr. Blue Sky," Electric Light Orchestra
  33. "Fresh Feeling," Eels
  34. "Everything's Not Lost," Coldplay
  35. "This Year," The Mountain Goats
  36. "Rainbows in the Dark," Tilly and the Wall
  37. "Coney Island Baby," Lou Reed
  38. "One Day Like This," Elbow
  39. "Tomorrow Will Be Kinder," The Secret Sisters
  40. "Don't Worry Be Happy," Bobby McFerrin
  41. "No Woman No Cry," Bob Marley
  42. "Do You Realize??," The Flaming Lips
  43. "I'll Be Alright," Passion Pit
  44. "Let It Be," Carol Woods, Timothy T. Mitchum
  45. "It Gets Better," fun.
  46. "Ooh Child (Things Are Gonna Get Easier)", Life of the Party
  47. "I Shall Be Released," Bob Dylan
  48. "Happy Days Are Here Again/Get Happy," Glee Cast
  49. "Island in the Sun," Weezer
  50. "New Slang," The Shins
  51. "Perfect Day," Lou Reed
  52. "Grapevine Fires," Death Cab For Cutie
  53. "A Change Is Gonna Come," Sam Cooke
  54. "Sunny Afternoon," The Kinks
  55. "Why Worry?," Dire Straits
  56. "Three Little Birds," Bob Marley
  57. "Tomorrow Is Gonna Be Better," Josh Radin
  58. "Blue Sky," The Allman Brothers Band
  59. "L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.," Noah and the Whale
  60. "I Will Survive," Gloria Gaynor
  61. "What a Wonderful World," Louis Armstrong

Thursday, December 1, 2016

And the countdown is on……….

Delicious countdown
This week my oldest daughter surprised me with an advent calendar to count down to the end of treatment and as of today that's…..21 more days. The fact that it's a Kinder Mix with various selections of goodies (this morning I had a hazelnut creme egg as a pre-breakfast snack) adds to the excitement. It is one of those items that was on the banned list at Christmas here a few decades ago…and not due to its poor nutritional status. We have a Decembear quilted wall hanging and 'moving the bear' as I've shared before, was a coveted activity that often led to early morning raids to 'be the one' sometimes accompanied by a scuffle or wails from the losers upon discovery. This evening I had the shore captain (with lots of muttering) retrieve Decembear from the closet and the search for Christmas began. Somehow one year an advent calendar with each door opening on a candy, was gifted to us and one of the offspring (memory fails me or perhaps I've repressed it) pillaged and devoured the 24 windows of daily chocolate, to the extreme and loud distress of the other three siblings upon finding the wreckage…back in the day. First and last one of those countdowns. 

I was discussing how I was sliding into the countdown as only two treatments remain with a former work colleague, and she suggested that I was back in the drivers seat and I told her "no, I wish to be a passenger, a princess that is driven around" and we decided that was even better. I had a minor set back on the weekend where I (yet again) spent a few hours in ER as I enacted the fever protocol. The bloodwork, urine and chest Xray results were all good and the young Doc suggested that the temperature was either from the cold I inherited from the shore captain (no pneumonia) or the (yet another) phlebitis in my arm. Antibiotics worked the last time, so he prescribed again and I was on my way. All this interaction meant I was unable to attend the supper for the refugee sponsorship group held that evening and I was annoyed with myself and had a brief pity party. No point in continuing that snarling so….moving along. 

Speaking of the treatments, as we readied ourselves to leave for the city early Friday morning and stopped at the end of our driveway, the road was littered with pieces of vehicle ? from a collision - glass, metal, plastic scattered across the front of our driveway. Surveying the scene led to the discovery of a good sized spike horn buck, in the ditch to the left of the driveway, who looked as if he was just napping. As we had no time to spare (due to multiple seafood industry errands along the way which still annoy me enough to not want to discuss them) I phoned our German chef friend for pickup - he is becoming known as a deer harvester and is a DNR frequent flier for permits. 

Lobster season has begun (the start delayed by one day due to winds above 25 knots/hr) and today being another stormy one. This has led to long hours and some serious cases of 'lobster face' as a coworker used to call it. Tractor trailers loaded with crustaceans were on the road as soon as last evening - our local economy turns on the seafood industry. 

Before the start of the season the combined Christmas / retirement supper was held at a local restaurant and the turnout was stellar. The old guy was pleased. A former employee (one of the original trio) attended and….had a low blood sugar, just like in the old days. He's usually the entertainment and was so as we waited for our meals, then became increasingly more quiet as he slipped down that slope. Both his former boss and coworker took note and his wife sourced him some orange juice with a quick turnaround. The beginning of an after dinner speech from the retiring boss was met by a raised hand from one of the employees who said "I have a question" only to be told with a grin that "this is not a question / answer situation". When the young fellow said "are we still on the clock?" the audience chuckled. Appreciation for the hard work of all concerned leading to the company's success and the unwrapping of the retirement gifts (contribution enforced by the in control secretary) with a genuine thank you following for the beautiful carved duck decoy to add to his collection (a former Industrial Arts teacher creates them) and the Pro-Go. Yes it's a Go-Pro (one of those cameras you strap on your head or sports equipment) and obviously you need a tutorial from a much younger offspring if you can't even name it correctly. But he was pleased with the present as he's coveted one for some time. 

And, speaking of work…although it's been over seven months since I worked, it does still insert itself into my life. I had a call from the assistant to the crown prosecutor advising me of a summons to testify at supreme court in February. The original plan was that I'd be in Dominican Republic on vacation during those dates and there was discussion of application to the court for permission for phone / Skype testimony. It's at times like this, when you have to give your Skype name (mine in just my first/last names) that you're glad it's not something like bimbo babe.  I called the Canadian Nurses Protective Society (CNPS) which is the group that provides RNs with liability insurance, legal advice etc. through our professional registration fees and spoke to a nurse lawyer who strongly suggested I testify from within Canada. I can go to the local RCMP detachment and join via secure video link and so the DR portion of the trip has been put on hold. We will still have two weeks the end of January / first of February in Tampa with the girls, hubbies and granddaughter, so all is not lost. 

I had a long phone chat this week with a former coworker who is on this survivor journey, albeit with pancreatic cancer and really appreciated the chance to talk with someone walking the walk. Tomorrow afternoon is the retired nurses lunch at a local community hall and I'm looking forward to it as I have only attended one of these events (due to work or health issues). The Christmas lunch is a great chance to get together and catch up while enjoying a potluck meal. 

Last evening a couple of girlfriends and myself journeyed to Liverpool to see Ron James on his Pedal to the Metal tour. We enjoyed a great supper of chinese food and conversation then made our way to the Astor Theatre for the show. His was on his game and we were gasping for air from the first few moments. Fun on so many levels!

Today I stuffed a couple of stockings for the Souls Harbour RESCUE Mission which helps homeless men on the city streets. Filled them with practical personal care products and treats, added a crocheted cap as well. Sure was in keeping with the reason for the season. 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Manic Nanak



With the prompting of a loyal blog reader and spirit sister I am urged to post as she "worries that something is wrong if it's been a while since I updated" and of course it has been a while. Not because anything is wrong, but simply as things are going along very well (and busily) so I have procrastinated. Been so occupied living my altered lifestyle where I continue to feel well, keeping myself busy with several projects while enjoying my grandchildren is….a pleasant full time job it seems. I reassure folks on a regular basis that I continue to remain well while being poisoned. Those who see me out and about express delight as in "you look so well" and although I am working at it…it's working!

When I parachuted into the daughter's appointment at the family Dr and requested my Canada Post/Sun Life misplaced prescription from the oncologist - did you know that to be reimbursed by insurance for a wig the Rx must read medically induced alopecia? as opposed to the regular, the hair fell out on its own kind - our GP was surprised and said "you're wearing lipstick!" actually he said it a couple of times in an amazed tone and then "I've never seen you wear it before" as he had worked with me in ER a few yrs ago. I informed him I'd taken a course (Look Good Feel Better - which of course a Dr wouldn't likely know about) to teach me how to apply makeup so I didn't look like a clown and that the products dispensed were worth at least $200 and he nodded knowingly (as he is familiar with my frugal ways) and agreed that appearance is closely related to mood. As we were leaving he instructed me to "continue to wear lipstick" which I assured him I would. Ordered some waterproof mascara from a beauty supply store which actually gives me back lashes and am getting pretty competent at not making the eyebrows look like a Frida Kahlo unibrow but, as regular makeup wearers will tell you… it takes longer to get out of the house if you're putting on your face and hair.

Attended the local Remembrance Day service this year and it's been a while since I've been home to do so and it was very moving. The message was delivered by a local pastor who was an immigrant from Amsterdam and lived through WWII and it's aftermath - very emotional. It's held in the same spot that I attended as a Girl Guide 50 years ago and the WWII veterans are much frailer now, but the newer worry are the young veterans medically discharged with PTSD. 

Arrived home shortly before the shore captain who had been on a US business trip - and yes he made it safely through the election day and its fallout. He had journeyed to visit the American buyers he supplies with seafood to discuss in person the 'things will remain the same' news pertaining to the sale of his seafood processing plant. Yes, you read that correctly - the workaholic is officially retiring. Am I worried that he has made no plans to fill his day and will be home after working 14 hour days for 6 - 7days/week x decades? You bet I am. Cancer doesn't scare me, but the concept of him standing over my shoulder telling me how to run the house sure does! There is a furnace in the barn with a plethora of tools and projects awaiting him so not a lot of reasons to annoy his wife with domestic supervision I've told him. He signs the final contract this Friday and will 'help out' for three weeks he says. That'll take us into the holidays so I feel a bit of breathing room. We shall see…

The new mother and granddaughter arrived at about the same time as the shore captain and we had a wonderful visit which began as a weekend trip and extended to Tuesday as the daughter said "neither of us have any plans and we can do laundry". A good baby who is sleeping 8+ hours at night and beginning to amuse herself somewhat, so a wonderful houseguest. She is growing like a bad weed - now 10 wks and 12 lb 14 oz, having gained almost a pound in two weeks! We visited Frenchy's for a larger sized wardrobe as she is of course wearing 6 - 9 month size now. I created some hats for her and her baby friends and we got out to the local craft fair and visited Santa, then did a Christmas crawl of shops in town. Both were great opportunities for showing off the visitor from the city. Wonderful therapy for this Nanak -  difficult to think of anything negative when you're playing with a baby! It was hard to see them off as we'd gotten used to that smiling little face, but her Dad missed her very much after five days and insisted they return. Apparently autocorrect changes Nanak to manic - which we decided is a pretty apt descriptor of the pace I've been keeping. 

Had a great lunch at the local seafood restaurant this week with two girlfriends and the food
Ooey gooey haddock/lobster
was as good as the company. We hatched a plan to enjoy a cruise this spring to revisit and surprise the super cruiser that my former travel partner was wooed by. We found a recent publicity article with photo of him and at 66 he has NOT aged well in the nine years since we'd seen him. If that's what cruising for 50 weeks of the year for decades does for you…no thanks. Made us feel quite smug about ourselves and our youthful appearances. Two of us headed over to the Salvation Army and added to the granddaughter's and our wardrobes for cheap. Even scored a free book en francais from the rack by the door. 


When we journeyed to the city I dropped off a large bag with my latest project of hats for the homeless
Donation from the hands/heart
men in the north end of the city. I was just putting the final touches on the 25th cap (my self imposed goal) as we pulled up to park. The hats were well received as the lady said "we need warm winter clothing not summer clothes people are cleaning out their closets this time of year" They are doing a Christmas stocking project (as per attached poster) and I am planning to participate and deliver on December 15th for anyone else interested in contributing from my local area. 

After an afternoon spent crocheting and visiting with daughter and granddaughter while Grawmp shopped for a new bandsaw at Busy Bee Tools we headed across the bridge and  had a nice family meal that evening (including the granddaughter - who was well behaved and passed around amongst family) at The Keg. We would never have considered taking  her mother out at two and a half months as she was a screamer, shucks we didn't take her to a friends houses and really limited having folks in before she was six months old - no one wanted to hear those screams, not even us :) They are lucky our granddaughter inherited her mother's 100 watt smile vs the yelling. As our daughter nursed the baby just as our steaks arrived, and ate the fork friendly parts of her meal, our son-in-law leaned over and cut her steak for her. I was amazed at what a team they are! 

Had another good clinic visit with the only delay being the local lab had lost one of my blood reports, refused to admit it, didn't cooperate with the chemo nurse and so it had to be repeated stat while I waited - not impressed and will deal with that issue with Thursday blood draw, but I digress…The oncologist assured me that we could travel a couple of weeks after chemo finished so we spent our waiting time drafting a family trip to Tampa end of January, first of February. It will be a great way to celebrate the completion of treatments and our 40th anniversary year. The girls and their families are signed on, we'll rent a house with a pool and the plan is for Nanak to keep Claire for the day as the parents et al do the rides at Busch Gardens. The youngest and her husband will be returning from Peru so will have about six days with us, but the remainder are signed on for two weeks. Think the life partner and myself will journey on to DR for a couple of weeks of R&R at the vacation share. We'll likely need a rest after all the family interaction. 

Speaking of travel should anyone be inclined to peruse some travel books I am providing the link here from a travel blog:
nomadicnotes.com/travel-books
A pretty broad cross section of literature, a few of which I've read. 

We stopped for an early supper and a bit of shop at Walmart for Lego as our grandson is having his 6th birthday party Friday. He was confused as it's after the 'real birthday' and now there are two dates. His mother gave him cake for breakfast on the 16th and he was pretty wound up I am sure when he reached school, so it's a bonus to have the festivities continue. Bought sinus medicine for the shore captain who continues to wheeze like Precious Pup from the post nasal drip he came home from his Stateside visit with, as he is three for four with his 'return with a cold' from his travelling partner, I advised him that the next time he and Richard have to have separate beds! He was not amused. Drizzly drive home and an early bedtime after the days excitement. 

Awake at 5 am - yes, that's what happens when you go to bed at a non-nite owl time - and so catching up on some online chatting and shopping, crafts and puttering in the house. Surrounded by sleeping kitties and a nap might happen to me as well and if so….it happens. Life is Good. 

Have an appointment with the urologist on Tuesday to review my ultrasound report which both my GP and oncologist have read to me as normal so that's good. No idea what happened to my ureter ? a bloodclot in that area post op - who knows and as long as it resolved and I can close that chapter, I care not. Going to meet up with the returning from Cuba daughter as her sister and niece will meet her at the airport and we'll 'do lunch' in the city. Will be able to hand off the exersaucer picked up on the Buy n Sell as there is more storage room in their split level than here and missy will be using it before very long as she is very sturdy and bright. 

Still missing the north and will have the discussion of return to work with the December oncologist visit. Have to be well enough to maintain the pace / be subjected safely to all the infectious stuff and work remotely of course. Looking like spring at the earliest now with all the travel plans. So, now that I've reassured my audience of my well being, I shall return to my various projects. Later gators. 

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Hallowe'en

With the last of the few trick or treaters we had visit us - we are at 10. The grandson (blue power ranger) was by about 5 pm, he'd suggested Kit Kats as his treat of choice so of course this Nanak obliged. Realized I haven't been home for a few years to dispense the candy, but the shore captain reports that we have 4 - 10 so no need to get carried away buying goodies…..he'll just eat the remainder anyway. Obviously he didn't add that last part on there, that was my opinion, he has always done quality control inspections at Hallowe'en. Also received a cute photo this am of the granddaughter who is getting rather pumpkin like. She put on her pumpkin costume (which I sourced at Frenchy's and then crocheted the hat) and headed over to her Dad's workplace this afternoon. Her mother tells me that she smiles in the morning when she looks over at her and I said "she's thinking 'yum, breakfast' when she sees you". Good that she's a morning person as her Nanak sure isn't. Mind you, not easy to capture a photo of her smiling as she giggles and then swings her arms and legs all around. Can't believe she'll be having her two month immunization next week. 

Yesterday was a whirlwind of activity as after we all enjoyed the fire hall breakfast, the oldest daughter checked online and noticed return airfare (taxes in) from Halifax to Holguin for $500. The flight left at 7 am today, so the afternoon, evening and night were spent sourcing supplies and packing. A quick run to pick up razor blades and shampoo (coveted in Cuba) some procrastination, then various tucked away treasures were located and finally a sprint of organizing. I crawled in bed at 12:30 but the vacationer stayed up and left for the airport with her father chauffeur at 2 am. She will have three weeks of fun in the sun. I asked if she was planning to surprise the boyfriend as with the rapid departure that was possible. If so, she needed a cover story, so I suggested that she ask him to meet the bus from Holguin in Santiago, saying I'd sent a parcel for a Cuban friend with a tourist (something I have done in the past) and would he deliver it? The plan went so well that Janier replied he was going to make a sign to hold up (they watch a lot of movies) which really tickled my daughter as she said "where is he going to get some paper?" She was planning to provide a rude name to put on the sign as the intended tourist and I suggested Dick but apparently that's known as well from the movies, so not entirely sure what finally took place. I instructed her to make sure she got a photo of his face holding up the sign as she got off the bus. There was also the complication (according to online info) that the bus wasn't operating but as the daughter said "they're used to things not working out there" and Cuban travel stories are usually complicated. I last heard from her when she was delayed at Pearson as she was waiting to board "they were missing a flight attendant" and it wasn't clear if the original appeared or they replaced them, but they were in the leaving process. She informed me there was a DOG on the flight to Cuba, a quite extraordinary event - a spaniel. Hmmm. 

Have been busy with a bit of social life lately as I attended my 40th nursing school reunion at The Quarterdeck in Summerville Beach:


We had a lovely spot on the white sand beach, great weather, lots of wine and food, wonderful laughs and catching up. Very therapeutic with all the positive vibes and affection of old friends. One of the classmates even travelled from BC. We had the special treat of rappie pie (Acadien delicacy) for lunch the second day, transporting us back in time to when this was brought back from the weekend home. In fact, it was as if there were no years in between, although there were two classmates who we hadn't seen since graduation and most of us are now grandmothers. One of the group is a pretty decent photographer and so we got some great photos. 

I had to leave early on Thursday to get my bloodwork done so stopped at my local hospital and it was standing room only so I played my C card and suggested that I shouldn't wait (not something I usually do) with the crowd - I was fearful of missing my ultrasound appointment. I walked down to the lab, had my blood drawn and continued on to the next hospital. My ultrasound appointment was expedited by the urologist and so moved from February to this week. The usual drill of 1 litre of water on the way and the test was fairly efficient. Now to await reports. 

Last week I had a good visit with the oncologist / surgeon I had in June. The gyne oncology clinic operates with each specialist just taking a chart off the pile, so I hadn't seen him since the surgery. He was very pleased with my progress and how I was responding to the chemo. We discussed plans for after the end of December when I am finished my six cycles of treatment and he described 'watchful waiting' which means every three monthly checkups, no scans unless symptoms and then gradual lengthening of time between checkups until the five year mark. When I mentioned the chemo going well he said "you're having the treatments preventatively, you're not sick with cancer too, the regime you're on isn't the worst for side effects although it works well, you don't have other comorbidities and you have a positive attitude". Nice to have the experts feeling you're doing well with this gig. I rewarded myself with a yarn shop at Michaels that afternoon on the way home. 

This Friday was a quick run to the city for my short chemo treatment - only four more treatments remaining. I was in and out in under an hour but with the three hour drive each way, still put in a seven hour day. The shore captain dropped me off and headed over to the plant where they were unloading, packing and shipping fish. It was a dreary, rainy afternoon and so I crawled into bed for a nap with the therapy kitty. Think some of the lag was due to all the partying like it was 1976 for a couple of days..l

One of today's interaction with healthcare included a bill for $380 for room charges from my June admission. Apparently if you request a private room and a semiprivate is available you are charged for that - this was not explained to me. The only way to escape this scam is to simply request ward and take your chances of not being moved. The fact that I was placed in a semiprivate room as that was the only one available, apparently counted for naught as I had asked for the coveted private (completely unavailable) due to my previous encounter with extremely confused roommates when I had surgery.  When I expressed concern that my insurance information was accessed (as my insurer had been billed for their portion) although I hadn't provided it - it was in my purse at my daughter's, the clerk promised to look into the case and call back tomorrow. I am sure that this is a $ lesson learned. The other interaction involved the insurance company where claims I submitted had not arrived - thank you Canada Post. First time they've lost a claim. So now I'm on the hunt for replacements. Full time job just keeping up with the paperwork. Good thing I'm feeling okay. 

My hats for the mens shelter project is coming along and I'm at 10 toques already. I've been working on baby hats as well - starting with the granddaughter's of course - and gifted one to
a classmate expecting a new granddaughter in January. Good to have a simple pattern so that you can crochet while visiting - one of those to pick up and put down, chat and not have to look at closely - the same criteria for taking handwork to night shift. I have been working on a sock monkey style cup cozy for a friend of the daughter's and did a pair of boot cuffs for myself to look like the wool socks. I do have big plans for an afghan with thick velour yarn so it should work up fast. It's main purpose being to pull over yourself on the couch if you are driven there by a snorer. And of course some Christmas gifts on the go just because I have the time this  year to hand create some of them. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Crafty or what?

As I was heading to my friend's place last week (so that she could clip the remaining fuzz on my head which scared me in the morning when I looked in the mirror and saw Gollum of Lord of the Rings looking back) I had CBC radio on and Candy Palmeter was interviewing a young country singer from Alberta named Brett Kissel who had written the son "I Didn't Fall in Love With Your Hair" for his parents as his mother was working through breast cancer. I'm pasting the video link here: 


When it begins, you're thinking it's just a love song but I bet it was a powerful song to many women across Canada that morning. 

Claire's hat
I've been keeping myself busy crocheting and created (from a photo) a pumpkin hat for my month old granddaughter to wear with her sleeper I found at Frenchy's. I was pleased that the  frog hats fit both grandchildren and managed a photo of them together (after the newborn fell asleep of course) which was kind of cute. My crafting creativity was further enhanced by a trip to the Lockie the Lobster Knitting Festival which was sponsored by Becky's Knit and Yarn. Posting a link here:


Pleased to report that they didn't discriminate against crocheters  and I worked on my baby afghan at the beach centre where Friday's gathering was held. My summer neighbour and myself met a former coworker of mine (needed a local tour guide) and we enjoyed the free refreshments and friendly atmosphere. We 'did lunch' and walked the beautiful beach in mild sunny weather before heading home. Lovely day.

We have had a few days of rain off and on and the water table has responded so that last week our well had over a well ring (3 feet) and more now. We're back to using the dishwasher, doing laundry as we wish and showering as required, not on a schedule. None of that camping routine.  

Picked a letter out of the mailbox with a test appointment (which the urologist wanted done within a couple of weeks) and found a date of Feb 2017 - that's urgent? I called central booking and was told "yes this is when we are booking for" and the suggestion was made my Dr. could expedite that, put on the waiting list, told they would call back to let me know the plan - they didn't. This morning I phoned the RN with the urology clinic and left a voice mail and although I was pleasantly surprised to have her call back this afternoon….I wasn't as pleased with the message. Apparently ultrasounds all over the province are backed up so the plan is to get an ultrasound within four to six weeks and then a follow up with the urologist Nov 22nd. You either get better and don't need these interventions or worse and go to ER and are an emergent case I guess. Not a wonder people get annoyed with this approach. 

Today I spent the day…..well, I don't really have anything to report for what I did today. Slept in until 9 am (awoke with an early morning dream of the north where the Inuit clerk had a sophisticated hairdo of frosted tips and upsweep - not possible in communities without hairstylists - must be missing my northern home), snuggled on the couch with the propane fireplace warming us and the cats, trolled online, enjoyed a visit from a friend where we caught up, drank tea and ate cheese and crackers served to us in the veranda room until supper was started and she returned home. Had a great supper the daughter cooked and then we walked to the mailbox as we enjoyed the glorious fall foliage with a gorgeous sunset. Life is good. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

No Fly Day

Trying to keep busy today so as not to remind myself that I'm not travelling in to work for my next rotation. Having been off the summer is not so unusual, as I've made that my habit as a casual to take the summer off. I managed last summer (even though job sharing) with time off for the daughter's wedding to again be out from May - September. So I'm four for four since starting this gig in 2012. But after having June/July off for post op recovery, today would have been the second day of my commute, were I not having treatments. At the time I type this…I would be landing in Inuvik, scrambling to drag my stacks of luggage to the Aklak Air counter and trotting out to the Beechcraft 1900 for the flight to Banksland. But….those plans are all waiting for 2017 now. I've just read a post from a RCMP couple attempting to get out on vacation stating the flight in to Sachs Harbour is cancelled today due to freezing rain…...somewhere. So, I'd have been stuck at some point along the way (likely Inuvik) with my perishables, something that has yet to happen to me in my interactions with the weather gods.

Since my current social life is focused around the healthcare system, you might think this will be a list of appointments or interactions but….. one must have small pleasures. I learned this about 15 years ago when I was employed in a provincial job where I worked from a home office and visited employees in their homes for insurance case management, I could find every craft shop, Frenchy's, farm market and local winery near my intended appointment and would reward myself accordingly. If I arrived early (not usually the case) after having miscalculated the distance or traffic I would check in for an overview to see if the locale rated a post appointment return. Usually the routine was to focus on work (which could be pretty intense as the employees were applying for disability benefits / being eased back to work) and I'd amuse myself with a little recreation following. Have some nice souvenirs from those days…..Cheticamp hooked rug coasters for example.  But I digress….

On Thursday the early morning routine of blood draw was augmented by the accompaniment of the eldest daughter who was having routine fasting blood work done too. She's not a fan of this activity (not that anyone is, but she carries a large portion of her father's genetic code in that respect) and we had to enter the fray of earlier blood collection due to the skipping breakfast.  I manage to avoid the rush by only have haematology measured (white count - immunity / Hgb) which doesn't require fasting. We stopped later at the local provincial park and I took a shower - bit nippy in the early morning of the concrete shower building. While about half way home I answered the phone (yes on handsfree) and the chemo nurse was advising my results were fine for the next day's treatment. For anyone tempted to accuse the healthcare system of dysfunction (and there are multiple opportunities) this is not one of them. I had my blood drawn at in a small community hospital about three hours drive from the city at 9:30 am, tests were run, reports generated and faxed (rural / urban run two different reporting systems so results can't be accessed digitally) to the tertiary cancer centre which the oncology nurse retrieved, reviewed and called me at 10:20 am to share. Hadn't even made it home yet from the lab, I told the nurse and we chuckled. 

By noon the shore captain arrived and we gathered ourselves, our things and headed towards the city. We stopped at the baby daughter's place, moved into in March which I hadn't seen yet outside the city and then a further stop to drop off halibut cheeks to muscle shirt man (don't ask) which is becoming a habit when we head in that direction. A rush hour drive across the city / bridge to the new parents and our granddaughter. Lots of fun to take turns snuggling with her - give me that baby! The life partner and his assistant eldest daughter made a run for wine and take out pizza at Piez Bistro which I recommend: 


hats and more hats
Of course the baby awoke and decided she was hungry too when the food arrived, so I ate quickly (as only nurses can) and then got more snuggles while her mother had her supper. As we sat in the glider rocker I got a bit emotional and told her that I will be there for her first birthday, I will dispute the reports that she's misbehaved at preschool and I will be watching for her first day of grade primary in French Immersion photo. She didn't argue. What better reason than a two week old grandchild to strengthen your resolve to fight eh? I had originally made a frog hat for the baby but miscalculated and it fit the 5 yr old grandson, so created a new one for her too.


We left our laundry with the daughters to do (now there's a switch….parents taking laundry home to their kids) and headed across the harbour to the hotel we'd booked for the night. Unfortunately with the insomnia of steroids (me) and snoring (he) I slept no more than if I walked the floor with a newborn. Enjoyed breakfast with the bus tour which had stayed as well. To each their own, but bus tours are definitely not on our travel bucket list…..just sayin. Over to the oncology clinic appointment where things are confirmed to be going well, up to the chemo floor and a two hour wait for the medication to arrive. How ridiculous! A 10 am appointment and the meds come up from pharmacy at noon. The nurses explained that pharmacy is understaffed, they are not covered there for their breaks and are not allowed to work overtime, so everyone waits for hours and the nurses (who don't want to) have to work overtime to get the treatments done. How annoying and unnecessary when the prescription is the same and could be done the week before. I made sure to share my thoughts on the patient satisfaction survey I received this week in the mail. On a positive note, only one try for the IV and the meds ran smoothly. The life partner exited to visit with his granddaughter, retrieve the daughter, laundry and run some errands and returned as my IV was being removed. 

We stopped at Pete's Frootique, a small independent market which has been purchased by a large grocery chain and although it's still good, there are signs of change. We picked up some gourmet treats, fruits and veggies and headed out of the downtown core. We convinced our chauffeur to stop at Michael's (crafts) for ergonomic crochet hooks and yarn (essentials of life) and browsed the aisles. Really pushing it, we further convinced our driver to stop at Chapters (bribed him with a Starbucks coffee) and I used my Plum points to pick up a discounted copy of a Winston Churchill biography. Crocheted my way home as I congratulated myself for the ergo purchase. Have decided to do hats for a mission which supports the homeless who can sure use a warm hat in the cold so a routine project which doesn't take much attention:


Although it rained (yeah for the water table) on the way home Friday evening, meaning we are able to have brief, very brief showers, the weather has certainly changed to autumn and it is quite chilly especially early morning and late evening. I am minding the cool breeze on my fuzz covered head and am switching from the cooler summer hats (to protect from sunburn) to the warmer crocheted versions. My wig is cool and comfortable as ventilated but the wind does blow through it. I didn't realize what an insulator hair was until it's disappeared. But as my son said….you've still got as much hair as Dad and a lot better chance of growing it back than he does at this point. 

In addition to my craft purchases we checked the post office box and found the Mary Maxim parcel had arrived. I had ordered a baby afghan kit for a daughter of one the shore captain's employees (childhood friend of our daughter as well), she is expecting a baby girl in a few weeks so I best get my act together. The project is small (should've read the specifications) but will work to put over a car seat. It is also optimistic to call it intermediate level. I spent the first evening getting the pattern straight in my head, ripping it out (sometimes called frogging) and replacing it until about 1 am, finally accomplishing about four rows without too many (noticeable) errors. It is a unique pattern/shade and she will appreciate it. so I am soldiering on. And the positive of staying up late is that you're tried enough to sleep. 

Slept until 10 am on Saturday and then puttered until those gainfully employed arrived home to ready for a memorial service for the husband of the plant's long term secretary. This created a flurry of finding dress clothes not recently worn, the lint brush for cat fur embellishments and showers measured in minutes. As we headed out to the vehicle our daughter discovered that Squeakers (indoor kitty on a harness) had escaped her leash and was no where to be found. Too late now, gotta go. We returned home after the service and reception to do a feline search and eventually she was located yowling in the top of a 30 ft. spruce tree swaying in the wind on the edge of our property. The shore captain headed in to the house changing from his funeral clothes, making bold pronouncements about how many trees he'd climbed in his lifetime. Meanwhile, the youngest daughter (aka cat whisper - half her father's weight and 33 years younger) had arrived for supper, shimmied up the trunk and convinced Squeakers to come down with her. We were impressed at the kitty's cooperation and nonviolence in the retrieval, thus the only scratches were from limbs. Perhaps she was in shock as she was not herself until today, or maybe distressed about all the balsam as she's quite fastidious. 

Sunday we started our day off with the monthly local Fire Dept. breakfast which we haven't attended for years, as Sunday has become a day to pack / ship fish for the transport to the USA. Our daughter and neighbour walked both ways to burn off the generous meal and we all enjoyed a visit with community members we haven't seen for a while, catching up on the local news. The remainder of the day unfolded the way that a weekend should with books, naps, crafts and general relaxing. 

So today has been (as predicted by oncology) the delayed day 4 - 7 set of classic side effects from treatment on Friday. Last month I had attributed it to perhaps withdrawal of steroids but the prevailing opinion is that the aches, overwhelming fatigue and general feeling of having been beaten with a log is due to the chemo. Oh well, at least I know what it is and it will be improving by tomorrow. And….Friday is the halfway point in the cycles. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Bus Chasing

As I ready for yet another trip to the city, I shall first update this blog. All is well and the trip shall include a visit with Miss Claire so am looking forward more than usual to the journey. 

This recent weekend we enjoyed having our grandson over and he is spirit lifting as only a five year old boy can be. I had arranged with his mother to pick him up at the nearest bus stop to us on Friday afternoon and return him there on Monday morning for school. I arrived early at the stop as I couldn't remember the exact arrival time (a lot has gone in my life since I did the school bus run in June) and there was a new driver this year. As 4 pm approached his mother texted to ask if he had arrived and I assured her I was waiting at the stop. Shortly thereafter the bus sped by. I quickly texted his mother 'bus went by' and began pursuit. Back in the day when our children rode the elementary school bus there were multiple stops through the three small communities but….no more. With our aging population there is not another stop until Ingomar which is about five minutes away. As I tailed the bus, the frantic texts from his mother arrived…is he on the bus? why didn't they stop? At the Ingomar fire hall the bus finally turned in and I approached the door. Our grandson quickly exited through the door and stood beside me with a relieved look on his face. The poor driver was very apologetic and explained that a substitute teacher had his class and hadn't provided the bus transfer form to her. That, and the perfect storm of the two young fellows who get off at the stop I frequent, not being on the bus Friday meant she didn't stop but continued on. Our grandson realized something was amiss as they passed out of our community and told the driver she'd "forgotten to let him go to his Nanak's ". I arranged to drop him off at the regular stop on Monday morning and we headed home. 

The weekend was spent with lego, crafts, playing games of mousetrap and scardy squirrel and reading books. He spent Saturday afternoon visiting his great Nanny with his Auntie and running errands. Sunday was Open Farm Day at Chestnut Hill Farm and so we enjoyed visiting the piggies, chickens, ducks and bee hives. We even saw his teacher and her family there so I introduced myself (her father was principal when our children were small) and she taught in Uluhuktak (next community to Sachs Harbour) when she began her career. Small world. The remainder of the afternoon was spent in secret preparations for an early birthday party as due to my anticipated immunocompromised status on the actual date I will be hibernating. We enjoyed a nice supper with blueberry cake/candles and I was treated to a scavenger hunt for some lovely gifts. I was thrilled with the handmade (supervised by the auntie) creations. As the little guy was being put in the tub that evening the pump sputtered and….we joined the waterless masses locally as we suffer through a major drought. 

Fortunately, it rained during the night and all day Monday. In fact, as we waited for the bus Monday morning there was a major cloudburst, which luckily slowed when the bus arrived. We had large grey wharf boxes brought over from the plant - the shore captain has been providing them locally for a few weeks now - and the fire department filled them with water suitable for everything but drinking. So, buckets of water to flush the toilet, boiled two large pots full to do the dishes from a dishwasher full of dirty dishes, paper plates, hand wipes, laundromat, showers at the provincial park and drinking bottled water. 

On Monday a buddy and myself first had a Cuban lunch at Shanty Cafe (she treated me - I am so spoiled) and we shopped at the craft shop of the sheltered workshop which is next door. Then we attended Look Good Feel Better at the regional hospital which is a sponsored session with about $200 worth of free cosmetics. None of the other ladies realized I was wearing a wig so I was a good advertisement for the section on hair replacement and I managed to put my makeup on without looking like a clown so it was a good time. I'm not likely to wear all the makeup but….there were some nice goodies. 

Tuesday when the well was checked….we had water to cover the foot valve at least a few inches but the pump had lost its prime and wouldn't pick up the water. So, the shore captain called a local plumber who promised to come 'first thing' in the morning when he was assured the man of the house would be here. I was sleeping soundly at 7 am when rudely awakened by my other half who said "get up, I have to go and the plumber isn't here yet". Not being a morning person I stumbled out of bed and he left. In the bathroom a few minutes later I heard my phone ringing and found a voice mail message stating "call me back, it'll probably be too late by the time you do", When I connected with the life partner who was not even two km up the road, he had passed the plumber on the way to our house and was directing me to pay him cash. Now a bit more awake I firmly educated him on the difference between have and want as in….I am a nurse I have to be at work 20 minutes to 7 to listen to report / you are self employed and want to be at work at a time you decide this morning - big difference. He protested that he would be away the next day and a half and had paperwork to do, no argument but the 5 minute wait for the plumber and his 15 minute service call (which netted him $120) could have been scheduled in there. The day is long when you're up that early. After breakfast I settled in to clean / organize my scrapbooking supplies and had a very productive couple of hours. Certainly not complete but a very good start. Lots of ideas for projects now that I've gotten my things out and looked at them. 

After lunch I enjoyed my book on the deck and the neighbour walked over to tell me that she had about six feet of water in her newly dug well. Apparently there were two attempts made as the first was dry as dust. She was pretty excited as she's been waterless for weeks now. We feasted on BBQ moose steaks for supper which had been a gift to the shore captain.

So tomorrow it's start the steroids and have the bloodwork day and then the trip to the city to overnight before the longer day of appointment and chemo. Completing this cycle will mark the halfway point of the treatments. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Positive vibe

You know how you need to be in a mood to write? It is especially easy when you have positive vibes pushing you and this is one of those situations. 

Claire's hat I crocheted
We received a call from our daughter on Saturday evening (who was due in a week ) to tell us that our baby granddaughter had arrived. Claire Ann was 8 lb 14 oz and both mother and baby are doing well. It was nice to take a tripto the city the next day for other than medical reasons. And really good to hold our newborn grandchild, while deciding although she's cute that she looks nothing like our own kids did. 


When I was hospitalized for pneumonia in mid August the Dr who had admitted me advised that the chest X-ray report from the radiologist advised I have a bone scan as there were areas on my ribs which could either be artifact (shadows but not sinister) or metastases (spread of cancer) and so he arranged for the body scan. I received a letter booking me for September 7th at the regional hospital. I have to say that reading the requisition with the 'rule out metastases' instructions next to my name and birthdate in the waiting room was disconcerting. The test requires that you receive an IV injection of radioactive dye and then return a few hours later for the scan. This allowed the life partner and I to run some errands (Canadian Tire, groceries and the butcher) and then enjoy a Cuban lunch at Shanty Cafe before heading back. The scan was somewhere between MRI and CT for claustrophobia inducing panic attacks and I managed ok. Today I received a call from the nurse in the referring physician's office - he's retired since my hospitalization but is one of those detail orientated types who checks reports from home and instructed her to let me know - that my scan was clear! Woohoo a huge relief as it's tough to stare that facing mortality stuff in the face and not have it affect you. 

I travelled to the city for my short chemo appointment (actually about 10 days ago now) and was in and out within 50 minutes. My white counts had dropped, but not as low as previously so good to have had the dosage reduced 80%, and they were still at a level to have the chemo. Managed to enjoy a Meditterean lunch afterwards with a northern colleague and my family in tow, before heading home. Today is the final day of my reduced white count, according to the oncologists so the plan is to have our grandson over on the weekend as I won't be so immunocompromised. 

Today I (again) did battle with my cell phone provider and 'think' I have arranged to have the phone plan I need at a price where I don't have to sell my car. This has been an ongoing skirmish over several months with amount of data and unlimited calling/texts being negotiated. As I said to the rep today….I will NEVER call Bell again and speak to anyone, I will only live chat so that I have a record of our discussion. He reversed the charges I was whining about. 

I also spent some time looking for my camera, which I have apparently misplaced - the trouble with having technology you can put in your pocket or purse….I have an alternate camera and had downloaded my recent photos but did not plan to be without my waterproof, freeze proof, shock proof camera just yet. I've likely put it somewhere 'safe' and you know what that leads to…..pulling apart the house to prevent admitting you've lost your mind. 

We are locally in the midst of a drought and many wells are dry. We still have water although the shore captain refuses to look in the well and see how much because "you can't save water, the level is according to the water table" to quote himself. Local Fire departments are filling wharf boxes with water for flushing of toilets etc for those who are out, the provincial park is open for showers, washing machines have been installed at Search & Rescue, taps are accessible at some fire halls and people on town water supplies have opened their homes for showers. Estimates are over 30% of the municipality is without water, rivers and lakes are at all time lows and lawns are charred. Yes, it's been a beautiful warm, sunny summer but we desperately need rain and for extended periods. 

Ending this post with some practical advice on packing for those of you in travel mode:

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Simple things are the best

I guess if I were to think through the process of blogging recently, it could appear to be a little morbid to be writing about a serious illness but….I really am not feeling sorry for myself so caution you to read this update in a positive manner as well. 

Had the grandson with us for the past week as he attended swimming lessons, swam in our pool, enjoyed great meals and good times. The therapeutic joy of having a five year old spend the end of summer with you cannot be downplayed. It wasn't the greatest of weather for lake swimming lessons but he did very well, learned lots and we all enjoyed ourselves. 

I travelled to the city for my oncology clinic appointment and treatments and all went fine. We drove down the day before so that the shore captain could help put the rest of the garage ceiling up in the afternoon for the daughter and son-in-law and I whipped up the nursery curtains for our soon to arrive grandchild. As our daughter was having a class in her MEd course, we headed out to supper at Ela's. Have eaten there before and it's….okay, but wasn't overly impressed for the price/service this time. Really had my heart set on dessert and when the server picked up our plates she said "all finished?" with just a couple of vegetables remaining, I assumed the next visit was going to include a dessert menu or at the very least a question as to dessert and a cup of tea as the tip is on the total if nothing else. She appeared in a few moments with the bill and said "thanks a lot". We stopped at Dairy Queen for blizzards, nuff said. Have been having some middle of the night awakenings (likely due to the steroids given with chemo) and was brought wide awake at 4 am by something I thought flying through the side of the house….turned out to be a helicopter overhead. An early morning clinic visit with new resident and oncologist and my chemo drugs were reduced to 80% of the original and the next cycle is four weeks vs three as I clearly had proven I responded to them. Upstairs to have the infusions and a bit of a struggle to get an IV, delay for new dose of meds and finally on our way after about six hours in total, so not too bad really. We headed out in a pouring rain (only the city got wet) and down to Lunenburg to meet up with the grandson and his Auntie who were visiting the Fisheries Museum as the lad had finished his swimming lessons and was celebrating his badge. We stopped at The Fish Shack where I had lobster poutine (no worries about side effects) and it was a foggy late arrival home. Another 4 am awakening - this one also included a VERY loud text message signal from the shore captain's cell - but back to sleep after a while. 

The weekend sped by and with the steroids (you can see how those athletes are so pumped) I got all sorts of things accomplished. Attended a coworker's wedding at the local church on Saturday which was one of the hottest days of the year and managed to wear my new hair in style. Got compliments on my wig as folks thought I'd coloured my hair and looked younger. It was actually pretty comfortable, so I know I can manage it now. We ended up with an impromptu swim/BBQ for a gathering of friends who enjoyed fresh halibut, beverages and great conversation. As I said to the life partner "I feel as if I'm myself again with being able to entertain as it's been more than six months since we had people over". 

Yesterday and today have been spent dealing with….hitting the wall. Think the complete physical exhaustion I woke up with yesterday is the after effects of steroid withdrawal as it was mentioned as a side effect. I feel a lot better this evening after finally giving in, rescheduling my car appointment and convincing friends to travel out to visit me versus going to lunch in town. Hard thing not to push myself as I usually do, but after 60 years of living in this body I am finally learning to listen to it. Had a wonderful supper of salad and fresh haddock, just off the boat. As I said to the family "these simple days are the best ones".

So the plan for this week is bloodwork on Thursday and if the counts are good, chemo on Friday. Since it's a short visit with only one medication we'll just travel down for the day. But as with nursing…plans are always subject to change, gotta be flexible. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The entire experience

Well as my colleague asked "you wanted to have the entire experience right?" in response to my news of the latest medical saga. 

I did (in my estimation) very well with the first chemo treatment - no nausea, ate well, no fatigue so….thought I had it all under control. Of course, there is no controlling of the situation I find myself in at the moment, which was proven by the fact that I developed symptoms of a cold on Wednesday and by Thursday had a low grade temperature. Had my blood done for treatment the following day and so called the chemo nurse to see about the three hour drive and she assured me that although my counts were low that I was still within the guidelines to receive treatment unless I developed a fever or became ill. That evening when my temperature was 38c I dutifully presented to the ER for bloodwork, chest X-ray and urine sample. Diagnosed with neutropenia (severely low white blood count) pneumonia and bronchitis I found myself admitted with an IV and IV antibiotics every 6hrs, aerosol masks, daily bloodwork and booster for my white blood cells on reverse precautions (those who came to see me had to wear a mask and clean their hands, staff wore gowns and gloves). I didn't actually feel too badly the first day (looked worse on paper) but by the weekend was feeling really rotten with high fever which refused to budge even with tylenol so fan over ice, cold facecloth, ice packs, pushing fluids and feeling as if someone had poked me in both eyes and wrapped a huge rubber band around my head. By Monday my counts were back to normal and my temperature resolving. Tuesday found me well enough to come home on inhalers and oral antibiotics. Coughing and still getting back on my feet, but generally feeling much better. 

Haven't (of course) been able to enjoy the pool myself except for one family swim last Tuesday before all the shenanigans began. Lots of fun with the floaties and squirty toys followed by a BBQ as the prenatal daughter and five year old grandson were visiting. This weekend is an annual BBQ for my sister's birthday so will look forward to having the gang here and the grandson will be along for that and the following week as I've enrolled him in swimming lessons. 

Found a new cleaner and she didn't complain about the cat hair (mind you, she has two himalayan kitties, two rabbit hounds and two lizards) so was clearly a good choice as an animal lover. She is also an obsessive cleaner who enjoys it - yes, there are people like that and they are the ones to find to clean for you - lives nearby and drives. Was pleased to have this settled and came home to a sparkling house. 

Spent today paying some bills and dealing with bureaucracy. When an agency is called Service Canada one would be allowed to think they might assist you right? Ha ha ha ha. If you press continue on the website query, a message saying the website is temporarily down appears. There is no way from the website to figure out a phone number (except for pensions) and when you dial it, no way to speak to a human. A friend suggested punching 0 (which I did causing it to ring and ring - gave up at 20 rings). So I called my MPs office for assistance and was assured they have a private line to Service Canada and would deal with my problem and call me back. Now, I don't know about you but….this did not reassure me. You have a service which is so dysfunctional as to require intervention and yet don't try to fix it? Hmmmm. Hopefully the politicos can work their magic. 

Well, since I had to cancel a stack of appointments due to my unplanned 'break' I have rescheduled picking up my wig until tomorrow. A coworker and myself have arrangements to go to lunch following and she is driving me so I feel quite princess like. The plans for a late October 40th anniversary nursing class reunion are coming together and really something positive to look forward to. Later…..

Saturday, August 6, 2016

The journey continues

For those following along with my journey from the 'other side of the healthcare system' let me reassure you that I am managing well. A few bumps in the road as I navigate the trail but….moving forward. And although as I fondly watch the photos of my alternate (northern) life posted online, I realize that my fight is here at the moment. 

I travelled to the city last week for what was to be my first chemo treatment and…it wasn't. We made our way down the afternoon before so the shore captain could assist with some renos of the teacher daughter's garage and broke up the travelling. A childhood friend and her hubby who live in the neighbourhood strolled over in the heat and humidity to visit as the construction was underway below, and we visited on the deck under the shade of the grape arbour. Nice to have a few minutes to catch up. As they departed, I phoned a former travel mate who was hosting an American classmate from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine course visiting before heading back to Bangladesh, as we had arranged to go to supper. The plans changed to the hostess' hubby having made supper so they arrived to take me across the city and then we stopped on the return trip for cheesecake at The Sweet Hereafter. Highly recommend it if in Halifax - the key lime cheesecake and a cup of tea was a wonderful ending to the visit. Fell into bed late, stuffed and relaxed. An early leave for a Dr. appointment and the usual prodding and poking, discussing of plans and news that my chemo drugs had been changed to a regime with the same response rate and less side effects. Unfortunately the requirement is for 24 hours of steroids pre-treatment, which I obviously hadn't had so….a return the following Friday. 

No, not Tuesday, when I was booked for the routine CT scan to check my post op complications healing as I couldn't be fitted into the schedule, so two trips to the city this past week. An early morning start on Tuesday, quick test and over to meet the teacher daughter and her sister (she had been retrieved from her flight home from Cuba on Sunday). A stop at Canadian Tire to pick up an above ground pool, some yarn at Walmart and on the road. Returned home to find an excavator and truck in the yard preparing a spot for the pool we'd brought. 

Wednesday was a trip for wig fitting and it wasn't as painful as it sounds. Ignoring the suggestion of my life partner who suggested I could become a redhead and my job share partner who insisted Fredericks of Hollywood (some of you may remember their ads from the backs of childhood comic books) and a big ass Dolly Parton wig….I chose instead the same shade and style as my own. Who knew there was so much to know about wigs? You can't cook while wearing them - they frizzle - I am planning to wear the hair replacement only for outside the home, so no biggie. The intent is to not stand out so as to reduce questions, suggestions and pity from strangers - much like pregnant mothers endure. So, put it on front to back to front (are you listening Donald Trump?) and centre it with the side tabs and finger comb the style in to place. My benefits pay for a basic model (machine made) and so I opted to pay the difference on a mid price range (hand tied) model which is coming from Germany. Supposed to be lighter, cooler and more comfortable. Instructions on how to shampoo, condition and care for the wig followed. I found a cozy (bamboo) cap as well for non hair days and will return next week when the wig arrives for final approval. Since I wasn't sure how emotional the fitting would be, I had contacted some nursing classmates as a pleasant outing to look forward to, and we enjoyed a lovely lunch on the warm, sunny deck of Rudders Brew Pub overlooking the busy harbour. We planned some dates for our 40th anniversary weekend get together in October and the research has begun. Something positive to look forward to in the fall. 

Thursday I had convinced a cleaning lady to come and so escaped to allow her space and walked the beautiful local beach with a former coworker and good friend of many years - very therapeutic. When I returned, the cleaning lady (who had done a lovely job) admitted defeat and claimed she would not be able to do the job weekly. Gotta be a record for the shortest job! The search continues. The shore captain arrived to assemble the pool and was sourcing water. It's very dry this summer so using the well wasn't an option. Mind you, that had been his plan until the local fire department declined their pump and asked if we had 7000 gallons of water in our well. So, mister THEN goes to check and oops we have 'a couple of well rings'. Back to the saltwater plan. 

Friday morning was a quick run to the city for the chemo treatment. A slight delay as we awaited the drug (pharmacy had only known for a week I was booked the experienced nurse said with a knot in her face) and another patient having a serious allergic reaction which caused some hustle so a bit behind but…still only three hours in total. The schedule is Dr. visit (variable wait times of course) and two drugs the first day of the cycle (about 2 hrs) then only one drug the second week (about 45 min if all goes smoothly) thankfully it's the shorter one that stings a bit. Mister had gone to source a pump and had to be summoned as I was finished. A former coworker who knows her way around the chemo unit as her daughter attends came to visit and brought a care package - I am so spoiled. A stop at the drive through and a quick run home to make BBQ for supper. To bed early and awake a couple of hours in the night (? steroid reaction) but able to get eight hours of snoozing in. Sure hope things continue in this pattern as the list of side effects I'm hoping to avoid is lengthy. 

Up this morning to hit the local yard sales and scored some craft supplies, jelly, household finds and a dress while socializing. Ahhh Returned to find the shore captain and one of his minions pondering the pump the saltwater plan at high tide.
salt water fill underway
Kind of a drizzly, windy, cooler than lately kind of day. They managed to fill the pool in two hours but discovered that the sides needed to be rebraced as the gravel pad wasn't completely level so…tomorrow they will drain, brace and refill the unit. But first father and daughter took a celebratory swim…while I watched from dry land. The prenatal daughter is coming this week from the city (she has a list of craft projects for the impending grand baby which she is seeking assistance with) and has been tasked with obtaining pool toys - a ride on shark for the grandson, an air mattress for me and pool noodles for all. Can't wait. Even without a cabana boy in a thong to serve us girly drinks, it will be fun. 

So, a day to catch up on tasks such as clearing out the junk emails, puttering, reading my book and updating the blog. Ahhh. Not sleepy yet but as I woke up the snoring life partner from the 'in front of the ballgame recliner' to go to bed, he said "past my bedtime, not yours" which is of course accurate of this night owl.