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Sunday, June 11, 2017
Eleven years sober. Do I miss anything about drinking? Yes, the physicality of wine drinking. The feel of the glass in my hand. The cork squeaking. The plinking pouring sound. The aroma. I don't miss anything about the drinking and its effects, though.
 
In other news, I wish I could say I've made good progress on getting into shape for New Zealand. I don't think, however, that 60 knee bends a weekday are going to cut it. Luckily I am blessed with good friends, one of whom works in a fitness facility and who is giving me a used set of TRX straps. Thank you, Kam. Lunges shall return!
 
This was a milestone week for one part of my ongoing quest: I realized I'm not going to beat my food drive, since it's encoded somehow in my DNA. What I can do is outsmart it. And that's the birthday gift to myself that's only, say, 42 years late.
 

 
Thursday, June 01, 2017
Again with the bucket list: I've decided that these premonitions are not magical thinking, and that my fluttery spells are probably arrhythmia -- yes, I'll bring this up with the no-nonsense GP -- and that after all the cancer treatment and recovery, just watch me die of a sudden jammer.
 
So that's why, in the quest to die amazed, I've decided to go to Destination #1 on the Bucket List: New Zealand. My own dad scarpered off to the South Island in the '50s, so you never know, this could have a genetic element. ANYWAY. Now to pile up the shekels, drachma, kopecks, etc. Not cheap to get there, and I doubt I could hop aboard a steamer like the young Mad Melvin did in 1957.
 
There is absolutely no point in going all the way to New Zealand if I'm still badly out of shape. I want to go on a high-country horse trek or two, and right now I couldn't get into a saddle without the assistance of modern engineering. I'd like to drop a few kilos and get my flexibility back to where it was in the yoga days (and also get back to doing more yoga).
 
My gallant friends ride to the rescue: Andrea and Kam, hearing me talk of owning such a device, found a used TRX strap system and are giving it to me, gratis. I'll have to buy the over-the-door attachment to use the straps at home, but that's a small expense, considering the new TRX is about $300 with tax. I'm humbled by such kindness, and again aware that DAMN I know some fine people.
 
That brings me to the other bucket item: I tried my hand at a little fiction writing this week. I don't know why I was thinking that it wouldn't be as challenging as it was. At the end of my first two hours, tapping away, I felt like giving up. A little talk with La Vinnie helped a lot -- and after all, if it was easy, everybody'd do it. Then again, Dan Brown, E.L. what's-her-face who wrote "50 Shades of Crap," well ... the bar has been lowered, I guess.
 
Still! When I write something and show it to someone, I can absolutely die amazed. In mid-sentence, even. Keep tapping, Farries.
 
Friday, March 10, 2017
A Quick Recap: Surgery was on February 15, first thing in the a.m. I was up and walking by late afternoon. A little precocious of me, since I set my incision to oozing and, as a result, was talked to by the RN and ordered back to bed.
 
Kicked out of hospital on Feb. 18. The next two days at home were reverse-enjoyed.
 
My brilliant (and fairly adorable) surgeon called the following week, exactly when he said he would, to give me the results of the pathology and the recommended next step from his oncological team. Bottom line: radiation treatment, to start six weeks after surgery, meaning end of March/beginning of April.
 
In the mean time I'm also scheduled for another Intestinal Geographic Inside Tour (i.e., colonoscopy), sometime this Spring.
 
More Reverse Enjoyment: an infected incision. These can happen within a month after surgery, and the location of my latest procedure is not often exposed to light, so to speak. Which means: Antibiotics are us.
 
A lot of financial turmoil at present has led me to a new ambition: to die free from debt. I've been thinking a lot about death at present, which may be a result of the infection, feeling gross overall, etc., but may also be a deep-seated knowledge that I'm living on borrowed time.
 
The beauty of such End of Days thinking is that, while I've often joked that I want to die mid-sentence, now I know that I want to die amazed. Amazed, is all. [Of course, if I die debt-free, that'll take care of the my two death wishes at once.]
 
Note: not amazed in a bad sense, like how many of us were after Chump's election in the U.S. Amazed in the buoyant, optimistic, Star-Trek-is-here kind of sense. I've had such feelings at various hospitals, getting high-tech things done to me.
 

 
Friday, January 13, 2017
The Story Continues: Met with Dr. C. (gynaecologist) on January 4. He'd also left me a voicemail on Jan. 3rd, saying that the biopsy had showed cancer, and that he wanted me to know before he saw me, so I could come in with any questions. That's civilized: I imagine a lot of patients, especially me, would be too surprised by the news to think of questions to ask at the time. When I met with him, Dr. C. began by saying "More good news than bad news." The adenocarcinoma in the endometrium hadn't spread to the cervix (the likeliest place), and may be cured by surgery alone. The biopsy was unclear, however, if the cancer was the aggressive type, or the indolent (slow-growing). Because I'd had another cancer, the surgery (hysterectomy/oophorectomy) would also require some harvesting of lymph nodes in order to stage the cancer.
 
This is where Dr. C. showed his sterling character in full, by saying "This isn't a procedure I'm comfortable doing" -- meaning the lymph harvesting -- "so I'm going to send you to one of two surgeons in Victoria who specialize in gynaecological cancers." More chatting followed, and Dr. C. said I should expect to hear from the surgeon in a week or so, and his guess was that surgery would happen in the next three to six weeks.
 
Side note: dang dang dang. This meant I couldn't with good conscience accept the long-awaited temp job with the government, because I couldn't honestly commit to being available for four weeks in a row. I know, I know: likely I'll wait more than four weeks for surgery, etc. But I knew I'd feel worse if, in three weeks, I had to say I'd be leaving for medical reasons. Two people, friend and family, I told this to thought I was insane. Possibly. But insane with INTEGRITY, I tell you.
 
Cutting to the chase: I waited until today, Jan. 13, to call for an update on the surgical referral. Had to leave a voicemail. When my cell phone rang at 4:40, I was gobsmacked to find it was the surgeon's clerk. Their working hours amaze me, but I admire them for knowing how anxious cancer patients get, and for calling past office hours. I meet with another Dr. C. (the surgical oncologist)in the morning of Jan. 24, at the B.C. Cancer Agency, my old chemo stomping grounds.
 
Now what bets do I make? I say I get surgery in the next month, followed by more chemo, or my first radiation treatments, or both. I can't shake this doomed feeling, but aside from being terribly impatient with normal Victoria life, I'm not too downcast. Tell you what: if either of these cancers had stricken my brothers, I'd have been crushed. I get to go first. This is only sensible.
 

 
Sunday, January 01, 2017
Here we go again. So, after the ultrasound and meeting with the gynecologist Dr. C., I went in for a uterine biopsy on Dec. 15. Side note: totally cool experience, including anaesthesia that I came out of like awakening from the best nap, ever. Dr. C. told me he'd follow up with me on Dec. 29, but that the biopsy had gone well.
 
December 29 came. I was grouchy with a cold I'd picked up on Christmas Day from Lorraine's daughter and son-in-law. Dr. C's clerk phoned to say that the doctor himself had a rotten cold, and could we reschedule one week? I didn't mind, and carried on getting ready to go downtown, as I had an appointment with my beloved GP, Dr. K., and assumed she'd asked me to come in to discuss the biopsy results as well.
 
Here is why I love Dr. K: she came in, opened my file, and said "I don't have good news." She told me that the biopsy showed endometrial adenocarcinoma. Briefly we talked about me seeing Dr. C. the next week, and I thanked her for telling me. She remarked that it was good I'd mentioned my odd bleeds when I'd seen her for a Pap, and that it was too bad I hadn't brought it up sooner.
 
"In my defense," I said, "since my regular blood tests didn't show any change in tumour markers, I thought I was just going through a drawn-out menopause -- and I didn't have anything to compare that to." Like the good person she is, Dr. K. agreed. She wished me the best of luck.
 
So, despite being wrong on just about every occasion I've predicted my own medical outcomes, here goes: I'm betting that Dr. C. will discuss surgery with me, and that this means hysterectomy and oophorectomy, followed by testing of sentinel lymph nodes to determine spread/staging. Then chemo and/or radiation, or (if it's too far advanced) palliative care. I hope I remember to ask him why there was no change in tumour markers if another tumour was setting up house? Perhaps this is an independent cancer, and not a met from The Big Sneaky, or CRC.
 
Before getting the latest bad news, I'd been feeling rather "end of days," i.e., fleeting thoughts over Christmas that this would be the last one. In keeping with that, I called my dear old Dad and asked if I could come back to hang out with him and Lorraine for New Year's. It has been a lovely visit, complete with storming seas, walks with Dad, and delicious food. If it is indeed my last time hailing a new year, it's been a good one.
 
Thursday, November 17, 2016
Well, dang. I've been sensing that something was a little off below stairs. I've been attributing it to The Changes of Age, but then my track record for assessing and predicting my own health issues is not exactly stellar.

 
I'll be clear: I'm not talking about a possible return of CRC. As far as I can tell, the old colon (what's left of it) is quite happy, and my last blood test didn't show any spike in tumour markers.
 
No, this time it's the (ahem) internal reproductive bits. While I am quite sure this is all related to being in my 50s, still, I have more than just a couple of symptoms that could signify trouble, including anaemia, and unusually long bleeds. Therefore I was secretly relieved that my no-nonsense GP, Dr. K., ordered an ultrasound. Which I had this past Monday. And which Dr. K's clerk phoned me about an hour or so ago, to get me in again next Monday.
 
During my one year and change of work in a family medical practice, I made lots of similar phone calls. If test results are really serious, the doctors try to get the patient in as soon as possible. So I'm being seen approx. 2 days after being called, which is close, but which doesn't spell carcinogenic disaster just yet.
 
Monday is also when I get to see my dear old dad and step mom. Dad's down in Victoria to see his oncologist for a semiannual "What's up." I hope I won't have bad news for the old devil when I meet him for dinner. To tell the truth, I'm more worried about that than having a relapse.
 
Wednesday, November 16, 2016
This past week. I tried to be philosophical about the U.S. election because it's not like I was going to change the outcome. I also don't want to sound like an especially stupid alarmist, like those who shrieked loud and long after Obama was elected in 2008--only in this case I'd be howling about the Republican incumbent.
 
The same week: Leonard Cohen died. I like a couple of his songs and poems, but for various reasons I absolutely detest his most beloved ballads.
 
You know how it is with music. Everyone's a snob because everyone's taste is the best. If I look at the two or three songs that make me lunge for the off button, or instantly change the station, I realize that a large part of why I don't like them is what I associate with them. Example: for years I couldn't listen to Billie Holliday, because I had a particularly bad rooming experience with a friend who played her songs constantly. The first few bars of any Holliday song, and I'd be fighting resentments and bitterness.Luckily, despite being disastrous roommates, over the years this friend and I have resumed communication and our friendship has survived. I play Billie songs, too.
 
So perhaps there'll come a day when I'll be able to listen to "Hallelujah" without my ears chewing tinfoil. I may be forced to wait until someone sings it without emoting his/her goddamned head off. That hasn't happened yet. I'm telling you, though: if this cancer returns and gets me, and there's a funeral of sorts, and someone dares to play "Hallelujah," there will be a haunting.
 
That's all I can say about November 8-15, 2016. The week of That Fucking Face and That Fucking Song.