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.