Monday, November 30, 2009

So Thanksgiving turned out to be very special

This is me, Thanksgiving evening, at the home of friends, realizing that the guy in the doorway is my son, who suprised me by flying home all the way from Providence, RI.

This is me greeting said son.

And this is me with my three kids, who are actually young adults. Wonderful young adults.

My daughter and oldest son cooked this scheme up back in September and they were so good at keeping secrets and (dare we say?) lying about stuff. I was completely bamboozled, and thought that my son was spending Thanksgiving dinner in NYC with the ex who was there on business. But about 30 minutes after arriving at our dear friends' house, who we've spent almost every Thanksgiving with for the past 26 years, my daughter's pager went off, and she told me, "I've got to get to the hospital. The cystic fibrosis patient I've been following is about to go to surgery for a lung transplant and I promised I would see her before she went into the OR." She said she would be back in about an hour and we all bid her adieu. What actually happened is that youngest son had called her beeper and triggered it, setting everything in motion. So an hour later, I was absolutely floored when the door opened and it was my daughter and oldest son! Everyone was very good about keeping mum about it.

And we had a wonderful weekend together. Lots of food, laughter and teasing. Went to downtown Seattle Saturday for the annual ritual of looking at the lights, the gingerbread houses and the decorated trees. Only thing missing was the trip to Nordstorm's Santa, which all except me objected to. So I contented myself with taking their picture in front of a Nordstrom's holiday window.

It was absolutely grand.

I hope all of you had as wonderful a Thanksgiving as I did. I am so blessed.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

What I am thankful for

Friends and Family, first and foremost.

But after that comes Humor!!


1. Monty Python:

Monty Python "What have The Romans ever Done for Us?"


2. Firesign Theater:

Bet you didn't know Firesign Theater was currently posting new zanies on youtube:

Firesign Theater's Revenge of the NonSmokers

One of the schticks Firesign Theater did on one of their albums (back in the day) was "Beat the Reaper." A contestant was injected with some sort of dreadful, fatal illness and if he identified the disease in time he was given the antidote. If not, well, then he lost.... Sort of like the tv show, House, MD today, but quicker and with a bit more humor.

And of course, because it is Thanksgiving, I am reprising my turkey recipe.

Have a relaxing holiday with your loved ones. And don't forget the pope's nose!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

How pumpkin pies are really made

Thank you to my dear friend, C, for making me laugh today.

I appreciated all the snail mail and email felicitations yesterday, which made the day a bit more festive. Although, Max, the black lab, ate a bit too much grass when my son took him on his walk, with the expected result on my living room rug when he returned. Not the best thing to clean up when you're feeling queasy to begin with. But made it through and the birthday dinner and cake with my kids that evening was wonderful.

So today, the day after, is not unexpectedly, a bit of a downer. It's going on a month since chemotherapy started and I'm not coming back as quickly from this session as I did the past one. Although I've been pretty good about not "going there" in my thinking, I'm starting to wonder if the chemotherapy will have an effect on my condition. It's the 800 lb purple elephant in the living room that no one wants to mention. Or maybe it's the pumpkin pie getting made.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Fleurs d'Automne

When I was a young, relcacitrant practiser of the piano, there were few composers that could really keep me riveted to my seat playing their compositions. Vladimir Rebikov was one of them. He was of the Russian romantic school at the turn of the last century if I recall correctly. I hope you enjoy these as much as I did.

Fleurs d'Automne

Rebikov's Dance of the Chinese puppets

Here's a little bit more about him from Wikipedia:

Vladimir Rebikov

Yesterday my caffinator friends from church came over and planted spring bulbs in my yard for my birthday and for something to look forward to. It was nice and they didn't complain too much about all the dog doo that someone had yet to pick up (oops).

Afterwards, A, had made a homemade NY cheesecake and we all shared in that--they with appetites honed by being outside, and me just grateful to have such good friends. It made for a welcome respite from the cold and grey outside.

Thank you all.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Second Movement

My second chemotherapy was Thursday November 19th. My friend, A, drove me to Group Health and I went through the same drill. Only difference was I was in a double suite. The injection, as contrasted to the day before for the blood draw, really hurt. The nurse suggested I purchase and bring some topical lidocaine next time to dull the pain. However, after she hooked me up to the sedative, the pain and reality, to a certain extent, retreated. I had my wonderful bracelet on and I brought with me a traveling DVD player that my girlfriends from college had sent to me. My friends D, and P and my daughter visited me in the hospital. I brought several DVDs to watch, but my daughter and I watched "Love Actually," mostly at home after I was discharged, because the sedative really made me worthless for the period of the hospital stay. Which was actually fine. You don't want to think about what is going into your body too much.

The negative after effects started sooner than the first time, probably due to my lowered white count, among other things. The white count was 2.4, where normal is almost double that. This lowered white count is also responsible for a flare up of the thrush. And a spot of dizziness Saturday night that persisted into Sunday morning but seems to have cleared up later Sunday.

The chemotherapy means that I have to use medication to try to restore my body's healthy functions which have become collateral damage in the tumor war. So there are: a) the growth factor shots, b) the acetaminophen for the flu like symptoms from the growth factor shots, c) the Zofran for nausea, d) the Flucanazole for the thrush, e) the folic acid, and f) the prune juice and Miralax to get the plumbing moving again, among other things. I swore I would not be one of those old ladies who had so many drugs, their days were governed by their prescription dosages and times. Guess I have to eat a bit of crow on that.

But the good news, for now, is that my hair is hanging in there (knock on wood) although the hats everyone has knitted for me are soft, warm, cozy, and quite attractive. I'm vain enough to want to keep the hair. I think every woman does. This is me on Nov. 1, courtesy of my friend D, the photographer from KY.

If things go as planned, I will hit the wall tomorrow. My 57th birthday. Figures.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Waiting: The Night Before the Second Movement

I Am Waiting

by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

I am waiting for my case to come up
and I am waiting
for a rebirth of wonder
and I am waiting for someone
to really discover America
and wail
and I am waiting
for the discovery
of a new symbolic western frontier

and I am waiting
for the American Eagle
to really spread its wings
and straighten up and fly right
and I am waiting
for the Age of Anxiety
to drop dead
and I am waiting
for the war to be fought
which will make the world safe
for anarchy
and I am waiting
for the final withering away
of all governments
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the Second Coming
and I am waiting
for a religious revival
to sweep thru the state of Arizona
and I am waiting
for the Grapes of Wrath to be stored
and I am waiting
for them to prove
that God is really American
and I am waiting
to see God on television
piped onto church altars
if only they can find
the right channel
to tune in on
and I am waiting
for the Last Supper to be served again
with a strange new appetizer
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for my number to be called
and I am waiting
for the Salvation Army to take over
and I am waiting
for the meek to be blessed
and inherit the earth
without taxes
and I am waiting
for forests and animals
to reclaim the earth as theirs
and I am waiting
for a way to be devised
to destroy all nationalisms
without killing anybody
and I am waiting
for linnets and planets to fall like rain
and I am waiting for lovers and weepers
to lie down together again
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the Great Divide to be crossed
and I am anxiously waiting
for the secret of eternal life to be discovered
by an obscure general practitioner
and I am waiting
for the storms of life
to be over
and I am waiting
to set sail for happiness
and I am waiting
for a reconstructed Mayflower
to reach America
with its picture story and tv rights
sold in advance to the natives
and I am waiting
for the lost music to sound again
in the Lost Continent
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the day
that maketh all things clear
and I am awaiting retribution
for what America did
to Tom Sawyer
and I am waiting
for Alice in Wonderland
to retransmit to me
her total dream of innocence
and I am waiting
for Childe Roland to come
to the final darkest tower
and I am waiting
for Aphrodite
to grow live arms
at a final disarmament conference
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting
to get some intimations
of immortality
by recollecting my early childhood
and I am waiting
for the green mornings to come again
youth’s dumb green fields come back again
and I am waiting
for some strains of unpremeditated art
to shake my typewriter
and I am waiting to write
the great indelible poem
and I am waiting
for the last long careless rapture
and I am perpetually waiting
for the fleeing lovers on the Grecian Urn
to catch each other up at last
and embrace
and I am awaiting
perpetually and forever
a renaissance of wonder

I went in to Group Health today for a series of appointments the day before chemotherapy. I visited the speech pathologist to revisit my vocal exercises which are designed to make my frozen vocal cord do a little bit of work, and hopefully make it recover quicker once the tumor has shrunk and is not pressing on the nerve. I also picked up a 7 day prescription for Flucanozole--the doctor has decided that I should be taking the thrush medication for the next week to stave it off, as I've started the steroids again to help me more fully absorb the chemotherapy. He approved me for the shingles vaccine, but the injection room told me that they are barred by the Center for Disease Control from adminstering it to anyone under the age of 60. Even if said person has had chickenpox as a child and is immuno-compromised.

Then I went to lunch at Chutney's on Capitol Hill with my friend, A.L., who was kind enough to be my taxi driver and share most of my day with me. We had almost 2 hours to kill between the above and the final appointments of the day. It was a good meal with a good person, and I enjoyed it very much.

After our lunch, I had the blood draw and met with the nurse navigator, and finally with the oncologist. Couple of things.

My white blood count is low. So low, that the oncologist prescribed self injections of Filgrastim (Neupogen) or growth factor, to begin the day after chemotherapy. It will stimulate the production of white blood cells by the bone marrow. He said that it will cause flu-like symptoms, so I will need to take Tylenol beforehand. I can't take aspirin, naproxen sodium (Aleve) or ibuprofen, so it's just Tylenol. Together with the nausea and the thrush, it should be the mother of all flus. Unless I religiously take all the prescribed meds.

It seems that I am going to have to create a chart of all the drugs that I have to take and the times, to keep them straight and on track. I forgot to take tonight's steroid dosage til 8, so I may be zooming around the house late. Hope not because my chemo appointment is for 8:30 tomorrow morning.

I also have a slight wheeze when I breathe, but the doctor didn't think that was anything to worry about. I mentioned that I have a runny nose, and he replied that it could be a side effect of the chemotherapy. I didn't know that.

There's also apparently no way, aside from waiting in long lines, that I can get the H1N1 vaccine. There's been no attempt to prioritize who receives the vaccine first, and with the shortages, people are exhibiting panic-type behavior. There were 1,000 folks in line at a small pharmacy in my neighborhood for 700 doses last week. And this evening when I went by the pharmacy to inquire, they had had the vaccine again today, but had run out and were turning people away at 4:30. They will have half the doses they did today on Saturday morning and will be open to take applications at 7am and will begin administering them at 8am. First come, first served. My oncologist said there is nothing he could do for me on this at Group Health. So I working at from home, communicating with the office using an encrypted computer hook up. Which is generally do-able, as I can put documents in pdf and send them to the office.

And, the doctor has ordered a CAT scan at the conclusion of the second chemotherapy period--December 9 being the last day of the second chemo period. He gave me the option of scheduling it after the second or third (which would have been the week between Christmas and New Year's) chemotherapy, and I chose the second. I'm the kind of person who reads the endings to books if I get tense about where it's going and can't stay up to finish them, so I'm no different here. We can always do an additional CAT scan again after no. 3 if the results aren't to our liking.

I'm not a big fan of waiting.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Cone of Shame

Truffle was spayed last Friday, but she still must wear "the cone of shame" because she can't stop licking the incision site, which irritates it and could possibly lead to infection. The cone impedes her progress on stairs, so she has to be carried up each time she ventures in to the basement or comes in from the back yard. Sometimes even if the cone is off, she will sit at the bottom of the stairs and whine. I foresee a period of re-education. She gets her stitches out the same day as my second round of chemotherapy. Someone else will have to take her to the vet for that procedure. Hopefully that will be my son, who is staying with his dad right now, because he came down with a high fever Wednesday night, and Group Health was adamant that he relocate elsewhere and that I get a third party to come in and disinfect the doorknobs and light switches and other common surfaces. My friend, A, was most obliging in this regard.

Another interesting (read not so good) thing happened this week. Yesterday as I was out walking the dogs with a friend, I received a call from Bank of America. It seems that someone using my name and SSN had tried to get a BoA Signature Visa card. BoA got suspicious and called me. I do not have a BoA account--I closed it earlier this year when I consolidated all my financial stuff with another bank. Plus, according to the application, I am a paralegal at the firm, Bailey, Banks and Biddle (for those in the know this is a jewelry store) and my mother's maiden name was Junes, so there was no way that it could have been me.

By the time I returned home from the walk, it was after 5pm EST, so I could not call BoA back to obtain more information about the bogus application. But I did email and received a response from a friend in the Consumer Protection Division of the AGO, where I had worked for 8 years. I think the information he provided me is germane to all of us, because identity fraud is so widespread, so I will put it here.

To begin with I went online to one of the three big credit reporting agencies, Equifax. On their home page they show a link to reporting credit fraud.

I filled out the form, emailed it back to them and later that evening they emailed me that they had placed a 90 day credit fraud alert on my file and had forwarded the same to the other two credit reporting agencies, TransUnion and Experian.

However, there is still more I need to do per the AG's office. And note that although the following information does not say so explicitly, it is my understanding that there is a $10 fee at each credit reporting company to request a credit freeze:

If you are a Washington resident you can place a credit freeze on your credit report to prevent any additional credit or other accounts being opened in your name, and prohibit the credit bureaus from releasing information about you without your permission. Victims of identity theft may request a credit freeze free of charge. To “freeze” your report, you must first file a police report and then send a request by mail to the credit reporting agencies. We recommend sending your request by certified mail. Once you have notified the credit reporting agencies, they will have five days from receipt to put the freeze in place.

The law also allows individuals whose personal information has been compromised as a result of a security breach to place a freeze on their report. In order to put a freeze in place in this instance, you should notify the credit reporting agencies in writing by certified mail and include a copy of the notification that you received that made you aware that your personal information had been compromised.

A freeze is not 100% fail-safe as some creditors can and will issue credit without pulling a credit report. Firms with whom consumers have an existing business relationship will be able to obtain a report despite the freeze and a consumer’s information may be released for the purpose of prescreening as well.

If you choose to freeze your credit you should be aware that there is a process to unfreeze or “thaw” your credit. This process will delay your ability to obtain credit insofar as the credit reporting agencies have three business days to lift the freeze, once notified by mail, and 15 minutes through an electronic contact method. .

To request a credit freeze, you should notify the major credit reporting agencies and provide the information listed below:

Equifax Security Freeze
PO Box 105788
Atlanta, GA 30348
• Include: Name, current and former address, social security number, date of birth,and
proof of current address such as a utility bill
• Pay by check, money order, or credit card. Credit card (Visa, Master Card, American Express or Discover). Give name of card, account number, expiration date, and identification number from back of card.
• ID Theft victim must include: valid copy of the police report, investigative report or complaint filed with other governmental law enforcement agency report (such as DMV report)

Experian Security Freeze
PO Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013
(For overnight mail, use this address: Experian, 711 Experian Parkway, Allen, TX 75013)
• Include: Full name, with middle initial and Jr./Sr., etc., current address and home addresses for past two years, social security number, birth date
• Proof of government issued ID card (driver’s license, military etc.)
• Proof of current address such as utility bill, bank or insurance statement. (Not acceptable: credit statements, voided checks, lease agreements, magazine subscriptions, or postal service forwarding orders.)
• Pay by check, money order or credit card. Credit Card: give name of card, account number and expiration date.
• ID Theft victims must include: valid copy of police report, investigative report or complaint filed with law enforcement agency.

Trans Union Fraud Victim Assistance Department
PO Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834
• Include: Social Security Number, address, date of birth and other documentation, as requested.
• Proof of address, such as driver’s license or state issued ID card
• Pay by check or credit card.

Another option to protect against identity theft is to place a fraud alert on your credit report. However, merely placing a fraud alert on your account will not block the ability of a thief to open up lines of credit. You may place a fraud alert by notifying the major credit reporting agencies as follows:

The following major credit reporting bureaus:

Equifax -
To order your report, call: 800-685-1111 or write:
P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241

To report fraud, call: 800-525-6285 and write:
P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
Hearing impaired call 1-800-255-0056 and ask the operator to call the Auto Disclosure Line at 1-800-685-1111 to request a copy of your report.

Experian - order your report, call: 888-EXPERIAN (397-3742) or write:
P.O. Box 2002, Allen TX 75013

To report fraud, call: 888-EXPERIAN (397-3742) and write:
P.O. Box 9530, Allen TX 75013
TDD: 1-800-972-0322

Trans Union -
To order your report, call: 800-888-4213 or write:
P.O. Box 1000, Chester, PA 19022

To report fraud, call: 800-680-7289 and write:
Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92634
TDD: 1-877-553-7803

You may want to close the accounts that you know or believe have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. If the entity with whom the account has been opened does not have an affidavit of forgery, you can use one that is made available by the Federal Trade Commission at

You should also file a report with the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC maintains a database of identity theft cases used by law enforcement agencies for investigations. Filing a complaint also helps law enforcement learn more about identity theft and the problems victims are having so that we can better assist them. Thank you for contacting our office.

This was long, but if it can help just one other person out there, it will be worth it. It took two days, but this morning I was able to file over the phone a police report with the Seattle Police Department. The woman at the SPD gave me the incident number and said that I could get a written copy of the report by calling the Records Department and requesting one by the end of the week. So I am glad I put the intial credit fraud tag in place with Equifax. As we move into the season of shopping, it's good to have this information at hand.

Friday, November 13, 2009

An immigration story

In trying to get the facts right on the Armistice Day story that I posted November 11, I went through some old photos and documents that I have been safekeeping a long time now. One group of documents are letters and postcards that Gramps Fauster wrote to his second daughter, Alice, after she and her husband, Jim, moved to California after Jim's airplane company in Ohio closed. The letters and postcards span over a decade and are chatty and full of family news (he considered us Cullen kids to be badly mannered for one thing !). But one letter stands out. I've tried to attach it, but blogspot does not recognize pdf files, so I will provide it here:

May 12th – 54

Dear Alice
In your letter received today you said a John Schwartz was at your church.
When we lived in Archbold an old man by the name of John Schwartz told me the following:
He lived in Switzerland and went to a port in France to take a boat for America. He had no money but was told that funds would reach him there from one who was indebted to him. The boat was ready to sail and Schwartz’s money failed to arrive. He told his trouble to your grand father Fauster, a total stranger whom he had not seen before. Your Grandfather paid his passage to America. This happened in 1854. One hundred years ago.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Armistice Day

This is my paternal great grandfather, John Ulrich Fauster, MD. [I went back to some family records and have to correct the next few statements] His family emigrated from Schaffhausen, Switzerland, in 1854 (they tatted lace to make the money that they used to buy steerage over to America) Gramps (as he was known to me when I was a little girl) seems to have been born in the US and thus could serve in the US Army at the time of World War One. He was the doctor in Defiance, Ohio, a small town in northwestern Ohio, where I grew up. I wonder if, given his profession, and the fact that he was perhaps one of a very few doctors in the area, he was allowed to leave. He also had 5 children at the time, although at least one was over the age of majority.

This is my maternal grandfather, Claude Frederick Holst, MD. His family had emigrated from northern Germany to the US in the late 1800's as well. They dropped the "von" that had been the prefix to their surname to better fit in in the New World. He also served in World War One, and I know from stories that my grandmother told me, that he was sent by the military to someplace other than Little Falls, MN, where he was working with his brother, Burton, as the town's doctors. My maternal grandparents had only been acquainted a short while before he was sent off. My grandmother had come, after graduating as the valedictorian of her nursing school class at Marquette University, to Little Falls to start a nursing school at St. Gabriel's hospital there. My grandfather was quite a bit older than my grandmother (who had actually lied about her age to get the job), but something clicked (apparently a Sr. Teresa played matchmaker) and they married in June of 1920, postponing their wedding to assist in the aftermath of a tornado that hit somewhere near Little Falls. Or so I was told by my grandmother.

This is my paternal grandfather, Seth Cullen. He's the tall guy on the left with the friend that looks like George Costanza. His grandfather and namesake had emigrated from Nottinghamshire, England in the 1850's and was an itinerant Methodist minister. Seth was from Paulding, OH, and served in World War One, shipping out right after marrying my grandmother, April 12, 1918. He rode ambulances in France, on the outside at night, so he could direct the drivers, as they could not turn their lights on because they would be shot at by the "Jerrys." I read about this in the letters that he sent home to his parents. I found the letters in 1981 when I was back in Paulding for the funeral of his sister, my great aunt, Bernice Cullen Sullivan. I gave the letters to my grandmother and she threw them away. I will always kick myself for doing that. She had her reasons for discarding them, ones I discovered later after she died, when I inherited a five year diary she kept in the early 50s. They deserve a thread of their own someday. Let us just say for now that she and Seth ran off to Michigan and eloped, something incredibly uncharacteristic for the very straight laced grandmother I knew growing up. When Seth returned from France, he brought silk aprons for his mother and sister and a beaded evening bag for his wife. The apron he brought home for his mother is such a work of embroidery art that I had it framed and it is hanging in my house.

And this is my father, John William Cullen. He was drafted and served as a medic in the Army during World War Two. He was never sent abroad because his eyesight was too poor. Instead, he was stationed in South Carolina where he met a young woman he became briefly engaged to, but it broke up for reasons he never mentioned. Although he did say that her house had a separate entrance in the back for their black servants, which he found off-putting. After the war was over, he finished college at Miami University, went to medical school at Case Western, and met my mother while both were working at Yellowstone Park in the summer of 1950, and voila!

These are the veterans in my family. I remember them today and thank them for their service to our country.

Monday, November 09, 2009

"Thank you" does not fully cover it

On Sunday the husband of my friend, D, from work, and five of his friends came over from the eastside and cleaned up my yard in a very major way. They did this in 3 hours. It was an amazing gift.

They showed up at 10 am to my house armed with blowers, rakes, and other gardening implements of destruction. It sounded a bit like WW3 as motors were revved up, leaves were put in their place, weeds were pulled, dirt was hauled, roofs were cleaned, a fence was pulled, and trees and shrubbery were trimmed.

My youngest joined in the melee, going back to the store for more lawn bags when needed. He was quite taken with the efficacy of the blowers--plus I think the noise made it a 'guy' sort of thing as well.

They broke halfway through for Noah's bagels and Top Pot donuts I had picked up earlier in the morning together with hot cider and/or coffee, then it was back to work. By 1 pm they loaded everything back in their trucks/cars, we took the attached photos to celebrate, and they went off to the Roanoke to watch the Seahawks victory on television. And left me 16 lawn bags, 4 large garbage containers, and my yard waste container completely full. It was truly a thing of efficiency and beauty. I kept going out to the front of my house after they were gone to marvel at how clean and trim it all looked. Even in the dark it was a wonderful sight.

Thank you guys. This was extra special.

Thursday, November 05, 2009


Of course, the attached picture refers to the avian variety, not the physiological kind that appears to be the culprit in the continuing throat discomfort that I am experiencing. I won't post a picture of what the infection actually looks like, preferring the more musical reference instead. But it was apparent enough that my oncologist at Group Health didn't even do a culture to confirm, once he looked into my throat.

According to wikipedia, thrush's scientific term is candidiasis and it is a fungal or yeast infection. The last time I remember coming into contact with thrush was when the kids were babies. It was a condition that developed when they were nursing. Luckily they don't remember that time at all.

So I am on an anti-fungal, nystatin, that I get to swirl around and hold in my mouth every 6 hours. Apparently this is a side effect of the steroids that I was taking early on in the chemo cycle. We will hope that the cure is quick.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

A lump in my throat

Over the past few days my throat has become a bit more inflamed and swollen. Not sure why, perhaps it's my stupendous weight loss program, but I am going in to have the oncologist check it out tomorrow. It constantly feels like I have a small platform resting on my esophagus and swallowing is a bit more difficult. I just don't want it get worse.

Monday was the worst day so far in this journey. You know it's bad when you can't finish brushing your teeth for fear of an eruption. I know now what to expect for the next round of chemo and maybe will request to be knocked unconscious for the first day without steroids (small, wan grin). So maybe the trolls didn't win but they scored deeply.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Down the Rabbit hole

Well it's been 4 days since the administration of the chemotherapy and this stuff is not for sissies.

I've had some good times this past weekend with friends who flew in to visit me from Denver, Kentucky, and even my friend from Klickitat County, but it all comes with a price tag. I had dinner with all of them at the home of another couple, both Saturday and Sunday and it was great fun, but very very draining. Still, I appreciated the love and effort they made to come see me. We're vowed to meet again in two years when things will be better and I can join in the touristy fun like seeing the Troll in Fremont as well as the statue of Stalin. And a ferry ride and going into the mountains to see the colors. Lots of things left to do.

As it is, I have a troll of my own in my gut. It keeps me constantly aware of my stomach and how I am feeling, which is not very well. I have a constant metallic taste in my mouth, the aftereffect of the platinum in the cisplatin chemotherapy and things just do not taste the same. Last night I woke up at 2:30 and could not return to sleep because, in part of the nausea, and finally took an anti nausea drug, which enabled me to sleep fitfully for an hour or two at a time. One of the side effects of the anti nausea drug, however, is constipation. So I am trading one problem for another. I've never used it before, but I have a large, industrial sized bottle of milk of magnesia on the side of my sink in the bathroom. It may be time to take out a troll or two...