May 31, 2009

Really good friends

While I have been recovering I haven't done any work in the garden. Rik has kept the grass mowed, but the strawberry and raspberry patches were choked with weeds and grass. I haven't wanted to water anything (and we've had a dry spell for the past two weeks), because I didn't want to encourage the weeds. Every day the strawberries and raspberries would put out more flowers and fruit, and things were just out of hand.

So I took S's idea from seven years ago, when I was recovering from the broken leg and couldn't do things for myself. She said, "Ask a group of people to come over and do the project. You'll be amazed at how easy it is for people to say yes."

Last week I sent out an email "invitation" to many friends to come over and help weed the garden today. Eight people showed up and in the course of two and a half hours we did it all. Weeded the strawberries and raspberries, trimmed back the ferns, removed starts that were growing in the wrong places, and even hacked up a whole row of unwanted raspberries, weeds, and a cherry tree offshoot which we have been trying to get rid of for years. We even spread compost around the strawberries and raspberries, something they haven't had since we moved in seven years ago. Rik transplanted the cherry tree and we will see if it takes.

Now that's what I call good friends -- they work all afternoon in your garden, visit and tell stories, and all they ask in return is a cold drink. Of course we also had some nibbles -- goat cheese and crackers, fruit salad, vegan orange/lemon cake, chocolate pound cake, rosemary shortbread cookies, iced lemon-ginger and mint tea.

It was a glorious afternoon to be outdoors in the sun with friends.

May 29, 2009

Rabbi Charisse Kranes - may her memory be a blessing

Today is the 20th anniversary of my dear friend Charisse's death. She died erev Shavu'ot 5749 (1989).

Charisse and I knew each other from when I was 12 and she was 14. We grew up in Young Judaea together, attending Cincinnati YJ club meetings, Central States regional conventions and activities, and Camp Tel Yehudah in Barryville NY. I followed in her footsteps and didn't attend the Young Judaea Year Course in Israel but instead went to the Machon lemadrichei chutz la'aretz (The Institute for Youth Leaders from Abroad).

We sang, we talked, we ran around and had fun. I loved brushing her long, thick brown hair. She carried a toy Jeep at conventions and took the wheels off during Shabbat so it couldn't go for a ride. It didn't matter that I was two years younger or she was two years older. And when we had finished college and Charisse was in rabbinic school, she would come to visit me in Columbus OH on her way to her part-time student pulpit in northern Ohio.

One summer Charisse had a student congregation in Traverse City MI. I drove up to Michigan's lower peninsula and found my way to Traverse City, home of local cherries. Charisse was staying in a tiny apartment located in the old, small synagogue. We had a most wonderful time together.

While writing her rabbinic thesis Charisse began to complain of stomach pain. Everyone thought it was due to the stress of graduating from rabbinic school and looking for a job. She found a position as assistant rabbi at Temple de Hirsch Sinai here in Seattle. (I was still living in Columbus.)

Only a few weeks after arriving in Seattle, Charisse was diagnosed with cervical cancer. The stomach pains turned out to be a tumor the size of a grapefruit. My great shame in life is that when she asked me to come to Seattle to be with her during a round of chemotherapy, I begged off, saying I couldn't afford it and couldn't take the time off from work. I only wish I had had the sensitivity to really hear her fear and sadness and been able to respond to them. But Charisse didn't hold a grudge.

Throughout the four years Charisse battled this cancer, she lived life to the fullest. She married her graduate school sweetie, Winston Pickett, while still in cancer treatment and was a beautiful bride. (We went to lunch the day before the wedding and in the ladies' room at the restaurant, she said, "I simply must scratch my head," pulled off her wig and scratched vigorously.) Her two wigs each had a name for when Charisse felt like being someone else. Charisse never lost her sense of humor about it all.

Some time later, she was living in California but had a high holiday pulpit in Hawaii. She called me one afternoon when I was preparing to lead services at Hillel, saying she couldn't remember how to sing Kol Nidre and would I sing it into the phone for her? Ironically, Charisse was the one who taught me to chant for the high holidays. I still have the recording she made for me of all her favorite nusach and tunes. If I ever figure out how to upload music to this blog I will share it.

Charisse was gifted with a most extraordinary voice. She was an inspiration for Bonia Shur, music director at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, and recorded for him. Some of my fondest memories are of just singing together at a Young Judaea meeting or at camp.

It's been twenty years since Charisse died, and when I said kaddish this morning for her yahrzeit, tears came so strongly to my eyes that I could barely read the words. I miss her still and wish we could have shared these past twenty years together -- my move to Seattle, marriage to Rik, frustration at infertility and cancer diagnoses.

Charisse and I were supposed to grow old together, still laughing and singing into our 80s. Now I have no life expectancy, having outlived all the statistics for women with metastatic breast cancer, and I don't know how many more birthdays I will celebrate. No matter how many or how few, they will be without Charisse -- and that's something I will never get used to.

Zichrona l'vracha -- may her memory be a blessing.

May 28, 2009

Catching up with a friend

About once a month or so Josh and I get together to commiserate over cancer. Our last get-together was on a beautifully sunny April day, a week before I was admitted to the hospital. How quickly one's situation can change. We walked his two pugs to a nearby park (well, one had to be carried part of the time) and just let our hair down about living with cancer. J has metastatic epithelioid sarcoma and blogs about it here.

Today we had a chance to catch up on our various medical tsuris form the past month or so. My hospital stay, his pneumonia, new drugs and their side effects -- the basic stuff of cancer catchups.

It always feel right to talk with someone else who has bad cancer. Sometimes when those of us who have mets participate in support groups with other people who have either finished their cancer treatment, or who are treating early stage cancer, we with mets can feel like their worst nightmares come true. So it feels easy and right to talk with someone who is walking the same walk, even with a different kind of cancer.

We sat in the sunny yard in the shade of our deck table and umbrella, ate cherries, drank seltzer and caught up on everything. It was the right way to spend an afternoon together.

May 27, 2009

Beauteous toes

My feet have finally lost all the swelling and are practically back to normal, so I got an appointment at Spa Nordstrom for a pedicure. I wanted to go to a place where I'd really be pampered. Also, every year for the past many years, Spa Nordstrom has donated a full day of services by their employees to people with cancer. First it was through Swedish Cancer Institute, then through Gilda's Club. I have taken advantage of their genorosity many times over the years and thought if I was going to spend money for a pedicure, it might as well be to a place that supports people with cancer.

L got up early to drive me downtown for the 10 AM appointment. There was no traffic on the highway, and we found a parking spot on the street within two blocks of Nordstrom, so we were able to use my disabled parking permit and park for free.

The Spa was ready for us the moment we walked in. The lovely Dang washed my feet, massaged lotion into my legs and feet, trimmed my toenails (which were in sad shape and desperate for a trim), removed dead skin, pushed back cuticles, and pumiced up any rough spots. Then she applied a coat of tangerine orange polish and a top coat sealant. L drank tea throughout and watched me enjoy this sybaritic pleasure. We waited 15 minutes to be sure everything dried completely.

Then we wandered through Nordstrom looking at the sale items (no cool shoes, alas) and had a yummy lunch at the fourth floor Cafe.

After leaving downtown, we made a quick stop at the PCC for fruits and veggies for Shavuot, which starts tomorrow night. I bought Copper River salmon, chard to saute with garlic and raisins, and a piece of cheesecake to have for dessert. R can have baklava. Looking forward to cooking it!

May 26, 2009

Grilled Mustard Potato Salad

Grilled Mustard Potato Salad

3 Yukon Gold potatoes, coarsely cut
3 red potatoes, coarsely cut
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons white or cider vinegar OR lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup capers
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

Cook potatoes in boiling salted water 10-15 minutes until just tender. Drain and place in a bowl.

In a small bowl, mix oil, vinegar or lemon juice, mustard, capers, salt and pepper until emulsified. Toss half the sauce over the warm potatoes.

Arrange potatoes in a single layer on aluminum foil or grill-safe pan and grill over high heat 7-9 minutes. Remove, toss with remaining sauce and serve warm.

Cream Sherry Cake

Cream Sherry Cake (as adapted from Bretts’s Neighbor Louie)

1 3/4 cup sugar
1 cup olive oil
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cream sherry

1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

For cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 12-cup bundt pan. Using electric mixer, beat sugar, olive oil, eggs and vanilla in large bowl to blend.

Mix flour, baking powder and salt In medium bowl. Stir dry ingredients alternately with sherry into sugar mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until tester inserted near center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool cake in pan 10 minutes.

OPTIONAL: Prepare glaze: Whisk all ingredients in small bowl to blend.

Turn out cake onto rack. Spoon glaze over warm cake. Cool cake completely. Slice and serve.

A quiet day after Folklife

After the frenzied joy of my afternoon and evening at Folklife, I really needed some down time. Monday's weather was perfect -- sunny and warm all day long. We went out for a fabulous breakfast at the The Breakfast Club on Lake City Way, a diner serving some of the best hollandaise sauce around. Rik and I both had eggs florentine (poached eggs over a bed of spinach on a toasted english muffin, topped with that amazing lemony hollandaise sauce, and served with yummy breakfast potatoes). Although Rik didn't have the hollandaise - he asked for it on the side and I ate most of it. Plus orange juice and coffee.

That scrumptious and filling breakfast lasted for hours. Rik mowed the lawn while I sat on my lounge chair in the sun and read a book. Then I took a nap in the hammock. S and Y arrived at the end of the afternoon and we had a quiet visit together. S worked on altering the Afghani door hanging so it would fit the wider door. She excels at this kind of project.

Then Rik and I went to friends for an impromptu barbecue. P hadn't cooked all weekend, so he was feeling creative and went on a grilling spree: grilled mustard potato salad (a recipe I got from W and passed along to D & P), turkey thighs, Korean short ribs, Copper River salmon, and served up his usual amazing green salad. I ate a full plate of food for the first time since being discharged from the hospital. I think my appetite is now normal and I have to begin watching food quantities or I will begin to gain more weight than I want.

I had baked a parve cream sherry cake for dessert -- the group ate all but three slices! We served the cake with leftover frozen berries from our harvest last summer and some vanilla ice cream. Delish!

May 25, 2009

Phenomenal Folklife

I spent the most marvelous five hours at the Northwest Folklife Festival yesterday.

We arrived about an hour before my performance call so that I could walk the grounds of the Seattle Center and look for the merchant who sells the Afghani door decorations. I thought we needed one more for our dining room ( we have two already, but there are three doorways in the dining room). Luckily, Gazdi was in the same location they've had for the past few years, and even more fortunately, they had three of these items for me to look at. None was quite wide enough for that third door, which used to be a door to the back porch before someone enclosed it to add space to the dining room. But the owner made a terrific suggestion. Since they are very long, why not cut some of the length to add to the width? I am sure I will spend part of the day sewing today. Such an excellent suggestion to make it fit in my house!

Then I needed a snack. No way was the leftover mac and cheese I ate at 4 PM going to last until 7 PM, after Dunava's gig. So I enjoyed an Indian spiced chicken kabob. Five deliciously moist chicken pieces on a skewer with some cabbage too. It was the perfect snack to give me energy through Dunava's set.

I left Rik and our friends to enjoy wandering the festival and listen to some good music. Dunava was meeting to rehearse before our set. We all went up to the fourth floor of the Center House where there were fewer people wandering about. (I insisted we take the elevator. No way was I walking up four flights of stairs!) I sat, the rest of the choir stood, and we reviewed one verse from each song. Then it was back downstairs to the Center House Theatre for our gig.

We had a few minutes to sound check. Luckily the theatre was empty and so we could do so without an audience. We went backstage at 6:20 when people began to enter the house. At 6:30 the emcee spent a few minutes talking up Folklife and then announced Dunava.

It was a standing-room only, full house of fans and friends. We had prepared eleven songs but only sang ten. The emcee gave us the old vaudeville cut off. It's too bad that he spoke for three minutes at the beginning and stole time from our set.

But we received a loud standing ovation from the audience, who were amazingly enthusiastic about our singing. I grabbed some business cards and with Dina, handed them to people so they would join our mailing list and then know about our summer CD release party.

After all that musical high, I was hungry again. We walked back to the main entry to the Seattle Center for a fabulous crepe with chicken and artichokes. (Rik had his with strawberries, Y had the vegetarian). We found a wall to sit on and enjoyed our dinner immensely.

Then it was back across the Seattle Center grounds to the Balkan dance, where I actually danced two dances!

I am so thankful to my doctors, my own body, and to God for giving me back enough health that I could enjoy Folklife to this extent. I can hardly believe that a little more than two weeks ago I was in the hospital, and last night I was singing and dancing, the things that bring me the most pleasure in life.

It was an amazing day. I came home totally exhausted, could hardly wait to get into my pajamas, and fell soundly asleep at 10 PM. What a great day!

May 23, 2009

New bathroom

Yes, we hope to redo our bathroom in July. This is the fourth time I have been hospitalized in ten years and had to have help each time around the bathroom. Can't step over the bathtub unassisted to get into the shower. Must have a booster chair on the toilet seat. Needed a bath bench because I couldn't stand up in the shower. It was endlessly frustrating for each recovery!

After ten years of trying to make do in older bathrooms that are not set up for disabled people, we are finally doing something about it. We have interviewed contractors, gotten a sketch from T our friend who is an architect, seen bids, scaled back our plans to something we could afford, had T draw a new sketch, and are finally ready to go.

We hope to receive a revised bid in the right amount from the contractor we like best in the next week.

Meanwhile, our concept has three priorities -
1) Move the washer and dryer upstairs from the basement
2) Put in a heated tiled bathroom floor
3) Replace the bathtub with a shower that has a bench

(We originally wanted to put in a small powder room but it was much more than we could afford.)

The revised plan uses our current door but puts it into a pocket so that it slides back and forth instead of opening into the bathroom.

On the left in the space currently used by the linen closet will be the stackable small washer and dryer. Across from it will be a wall-mounted cabinet with storage for laundry stuff and a pull-down rack to dry delicate garments. (We'll have to redo the bedroom closet too to make space for the linens which will no longer be able to live in the linen closet.)

Just beyond the washer and dryer will be a small vanity with sink. I am looking at some very cool glass and ceramic sinks that come in colors -- thinking bright cobalt blue right now. The vanity will have three drawers on the right side extending down to the floor and one cupboard door for more storage below the sink. On the left, climbing up to the ceiling, will be a tall narrow cabinet that either pulls out (like a pantry) or with a door that opens.

I found these amazing drawer pulls. There will be a medicine chest, maybe reusing one of the mirrors that is still in good shape. We will have lighting around the mirror too, perhaps vertical sconces.

One thing we have plenty of is height. The ceiling is over ten feet. So we want to use that resource. The contractor talked about putting in a soffit - a fake trim on the ceiling - with lighting above it for general lighting.

Across from the vanity and sink will be the toilet, facing parallel to the wall (not perpendicular, the way it is now). It will be a chair height toilet, low flow or dual flush toilet, so that everyone can sit on it comfortably. I have the contractor looking into the fancy Japanese-style toilets by Toto, just in case they turn out to be affordable. These are the amazing toilets that have heated seats, blow warm water and air, and play music. I saw them in Japan and fell in love immediately.

At the far end will be the shower, a tiled enclosure with a rainfall shower head at one end and a bench at the other end with a handheld shower head so that when I can't stand I will still be able to take a shower unaided. We found some beautiful border tiles from Jerusalem Pottery in Israel and can't wait to order them.

The colors will be soft purple, cobalt blue and a soft butter yellow. The tiled floor will reflect all the colors, while the shower will be mostly white with the accent tiles in blue and yellow. The vanity might be a warm light colored wood with that cobalt sink, the upper cabinet to match.

I tried to upload a pdf of the architect's sketch but couldn't get it to work. So you will have to imagine with me and I will post photos of things as we decide to use them.

A lovely day - might have done too much

I felt so good on Friday morning that I baked Rik a batch pf snickerdoodle cookies, readall the paper, did the crossword, took a short nap and puttered around the house until 11:30 when A picked me up for an afternoon of bathroom fixture browsing.

First we had a delicious lunch at Gorgeous George's restaurant, owned by an Israeli Christian Arab. His food was remarkably tasty! I had lamb gyro meat over rice; A had kofta kabobs (seasoned ground beef) with rice. We both shared a phenomenal salad tossed with George's own home made salad dressing. All in all, a lunch worth lingering over!

Then we drove down Stone Way to check out a couple of design/fixture places. I found some of the items I'd seen online and it helped to see them in the flesh, so to speak. Plus there were a couple of new ideas that came our way.

A dropped me off and then W came over to take me to help her look for a refrigerator. I've replaced all our appliances in the past few years and I learned a lot about shopping for these big ticket items.

W and I went to Almvig's, which has the best customer service in town. We got some tips about why not to buy LG (they have the highest service call numbers), how to make room for a taller fridge under a cabinet (if the cabinet is stand-alone, not attached to others, it can be removed and made shorter to allow for the now standard 70" fridges to fit in the space below the cabinet). W didn't want to buy a GE model, which left us looking at Kitchenaid, Whirlpool and Fischer & Paykel.

I am sure W and G will find the fridge they need with minimal fuss, since they took my advice and measured their available space BEFORE going shopping.

I then crashed for an hour and slept hard. We went to R and L's for Shabbat dinner. I was still sleepy from my nap, but a cup of mint tea with honey soon woke me up. L prepared a delicious Shabbat dinner of her special salads (no one makes salads like L), salmon, couscous with dried fruit and nuts, asparagus and fruit cobbler for dessert. I ate as much as I could - which wasn't much -- had some salad, a teaspoon of couscous, a small piece of salmon and one asparagus spear. I did have some cobbler after dinner.

It was a lovely day but I just might have done a smidge too much. I slept well after my second dose of Megace and only awoke twice in the night to pee. I actually slept in until 7 AM!

May 22, 2009

Starting Megace

I took my first dose of Megace at bedtime last night and of course thought I began to experience side effects within minutes. I asked Rik to find the sheet that came from the pharmacy and re-read all the issues, then took half an ativan to relax me. Well, I fell so soundly asleep that I only woke up once to pee! I slept soundly until the alarm just went off.

I have high hopes for the Megace. I take 5 ml in a liquid suspension, pouring it carefully into a tiny measuring cup where I have marked the proper dosage level. I could use a small syringe to pull up the same quantity, but I think the cup will be easier to keep clean.

So I had no worries, a sound night's sleep, and woke to a new morning. If you a praying person, please include for me a prayer that the Megace is effective at fighting my cancer with minimal side effects for a LONG time.

May 21, 2009

A rant about health insurance

I had a good day mostly except for the following. Dr G wrote me a new Rx for tincture of opium. Swedish Hospital pharmacy is the only place I could find in Seattle that stocks it. I dropped off my prescription and went to lunch with a friend.

A second pharmacist told me that my health insurance provider would not authorize a new prescription until May 30. I told him that I had told the doctor I spilled some of this medication and have only a bit left for the next few days. The pharmacist asked me to wait while he confirmed this with the doc and called the health insurance company.

Half an hour later the pharmacist told me that the insurance provider refused to authorize any more of this drug until May 30, regardless of the circumstances. If I paid for the drug myself it would cost $174 ($50 if covered by the health insurance, still a hefty copay).

They filled my other prescriptions (a $10 copay each for vicodin and Megace). I need to start the Megace either tonight or tomorrow morning, must read up on it.

I left the pharmacy after almost three hours of this game without my opium prescription. Next step? Call the insurance company and see what I can do to be a squeaky wheel and get the meds my doctor believes I need.


May 20, 2009

Good news from the doc

I saw Dr G today and he says my blood work was fine and my chemistry is in good shape. So no more potassium or Imodium, although I am to continue with the Bactroban (daily up the nose to prevent infection) and the tincture of opium (to fight diarrhea). I can taper down from four times a day to twice a day on the opium since I didn't think I wanted to go cold turkey on it.

I can schedule my next Zometa at any time, including waiting out another few weeks until the cycle starts again. Dr G says to call him tomorrow and he will start me on the Megace. And I am clear to eat whatever I want!

G drove me to the doc, sat with me while I had the blood draw and waited for the results. Then we went out to lunch at Quinn's Pub where I had a truly delicious hamburger and fries and G had the delightful vegetarian sandwich and shared my fries. There were so many fries we brought some back for Rik to nibble on.

This has been a good day and it's not close to over yet!

Looking forward to Folklife!

Those of you in the greater Seattle area can hear me sing with Dunava at the Northwest Folklife Festival
Sunday, May 24, 2009
6:30 - 7 PM
KUOW Center House Theatre
Dunava is part of the Global Women's Voices show

You can catch me hanging out afterwards at the Balkan Dance Party from 7 - 10 PM (or until I crash).

Folklife is the best!

Post-hospital checkup #2

Today I am scheduled to see the oncologist for my second post-hospital checkup. I have finished all of my antibiotics, still taking potassium and tincture of opium/Imodium for the diarrhea, plus my usual vitamins etc.

I imagine it will be like last time: the receptionist will check me in. I will have my port accessed to draw blood for labs. I'll wait an hour or more for the labs to come back. Then I'll see Dr. G, we'll talk, he'll want to examine me.

Maybe he will send me home with more meds, depending on my blood work. Maybe he will want to start me on the Megace. Or maybe I'll just get another week to increase my strength.

I do feel as though I have 5% improvement every day. Yesterday I felt like I was at 80%, today I feel a little stronger.

More later when I return....

May 19, 2009

Citizen Katz celebrates

After the swearing-in ceremony, Rik and I stopped for an ice cream at Mollie Moon's
to celebrate. Then we went home and I managed to get him to go out for dinner while our friends came over for a surprise party. We had an all-American hamburger at Jak's Grill, our favorite burger place.

While we were at dinner, D and G and W came over and set up for our impromptu surprise party. We had vanilla ice cream with raspberries and blueberries frozen from our garden last summer. M baked maple sugar cookies in the shape of maple leaves to honor Rik's Canadian background.

About 25 people jumped out to say "Surprise!" and sang us this parody they wrote while waiting for us to come home:

Rik's a Yankee Doodle Dandy
A Yankee Doodle do or die.
A real live nephew of his Uncle Sam
Born on the 14th of June.

He's got a Yankee Doodle sweetheart
Jill's his Yankee Doodle joy.
Yankee Doodle went to Seattle
Just to take some pictures.
Now he's a Yankee Doodle boy!

We had a great time with everyone. It was the perfect way to celebrate such a momentous occasion, surrounded by friends!

Citizen Katz

On April 21, just a week after his interview, Rik became a citizen of the USA.

We met a colleague of his at the INS building. She brought a baseball basket filled with cards from his colleagues, American flags, and other "American" fun toys. We were so happy to see Miss C -- she really brought the party to the ceremony!

First all the new citizens were whisked away to process their paperwork. The guests went to the back of the auditorium. There were 101 new citizens from 43 countries of origin.

Each new citizen entered the auditorium carrying their paperwork and a small US flag. After they were all seated, we watched a video about the history of the citizenship process, with lots of footage of Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, old film and photos, etc. Then the citizens stood to take the oath of office together. One at a time, they were called to the podium to receive their certificate of citizenship. Then we watched another video, and the new citizens swore the Pledge of Allegiance.

The whole ceremony was quite moving and Rik and I both had tears in our eyes.

Citizen Katz (background)

It was shortly after Rik became a US citizen that I was admitted to the hospital for my 12-night stay, and I have not yet blogged about Citizen Katz and his special day.

Last fall, on election night, Rik said that if Barack Obama won, Rik would become a US citizen. At 8:01 PM the polls on the west coast closed and the TV news declared Obama the next president of the United States of America. Rik immediately went to the computer and printed out the citizenship application. He mailed it in the next day with all the paperwork and the fee.

Rik thought it would take many months to complete but in reality, the process moved very quickly. They cashed the check, asked for more information on trips out of the US while he was a resident alien (i.e., had a "green card"), and set up the interview for April 13.

Rik studied hard for the test and was prepared to answer any question. he had to write the sentence: The President lives in the White House. He had to speak a sentence out loud. His interviewer asked him five questions:
Q: What was the movement of the 1960s?
A: The civil rights movement

Q: What is the supreme law of the land?
A: The Constitution

Q: The governor of our state is?
A: Christine Gregoire

Q: Why do some states have more representatives than others?
A: Because they have greater population

Q: Name two national holidays we celebrate in the USA?
A: Flag Day (Rik's birthday) and Independence Day

(The interviewer told Rik he never asks questions he doesn't know the answer to.)

And then it was on to the swearing-in ceremony!

May 18, 2009

Catching up on household chores

There were fourteen shirts to be ironed, just about one for each day I had been in the hospital. Anbd Rik had already dome this much ironing while I was inpatient!

I had Rik pull out the ironing board and spent the past couple of hours alternating between ironing and sitting with my feet up to watch "Good Morning America."

Ironing and polishing the silver have always been my favorite household chores. There's something very satisfying about taking a wrinkled mess and turning it into a pressed shirt. Or turning the blackened tarnish into shining silver again.

I also swept the floor to pick up all the dog hair and vacuumed the sofa (same reason). In all, it's been a remarkably busy and satisfying morning of catching up on household chores.

(And no, I don't clean the bathroom.)

Restaurant dinner

Last night we enjoyed a dinner out in a restaurant with our usual Sunday night dinner friends, G & W. They had a coupon for Buca di Beppo. We arrived before 6 PM but the place was already hopping. Who knew we could make a reservation? W told the hostess that I had to eat right away, we couldn't wait for a half hour to get a table, and they seated us at the only booth in the bar.

So we were quite private and didn't have screaming children around. This chain serves everything family style -- large portions in a single bowl -- and we made some good choices. For the three who love seafood, they ordered pasta frutti di mare (shrimp, baby clams, mussels and calamari tossed with spicy red clam sauce and served over imported Italian linguine). They ordered a caesar salad as well (I ate the croutons).

I enjoyed chianti braised short ribs and some fettuccine with marinara sauce. And I shared with everyone else.

I wanted a glass of wine but restrained myself. The bartender brought me some soda from the fountain with lime sweet/sour mix. It was good but not sweet enough for me. I am still really into sweet and cold tastes.

To conclude our festive meal, we each enjoyed a small cone of house-made gelato (chocolate and pistachio).

It was the perfect conclusion to a day full of outings!

May 17, 2009

A busy and lazy Sunday

Is it possible for a day to be both busy and lazy?

We got up closer to 7 AM than 5 AM, and I only had one night-time snack last night (still got up four times to pee though). It was great to sleep a little longer and heavier than during the past week.

After pancakes for breakfast and peanut butter on crackers for second breakfast, we went to synagogue for the annual meeting. There were yummy bagels with cream cheese that I could eat, and orange juice to drink, so my "elevenses" were delicious. The meeting ran smoothly, although I hit the wall sometime around 11:30 AM and we had to leave.

"Hitting the wall" is an interesting cancer fatigue issue. No matter where I am, I can get that sudden sensation of not being able to do ANYTHING. Like this morning -- we had to leave immediately, once I felt I'd hit the wall, I couldn't even sit in a chair any more.

We came home and ate a little lunch, were prepared to visit a friend in the hospital but when we called, he was being taken for a procedure. We went to Bellevue anyway -- there was a top I wanted from Lands End
and the Sears in Bellevue has the largest Lands End shop in town.

I was able to buy the top in both turquoise blue and sea green, both really good colors on me that I have trouble finding.

Then we went across the road to Fred Meyer and picked up some necessities: WD40, Imodium, moisturizer with SPF 15, eggs -- the usual motley supply of stuff. FM did not have more than one box of sparkling water at the 6 for $10 price, so we only bought the one and will have to go back with our coupon again this week. It's the best deal in town and we go through so much sparkling water in the warm weather that we need to have extra on hand!

After all this fresh air and shopping I made us a banana-mango smoothie (thanks L for the orange-peach-mango juice), then fell soundly asleep on the sofa. Rik bathed the dogs again so they wouldn't stink, and we plan to go out for our usual Sunday dinner with friends.

In all, this has been an excellent day!

Shabbat again

I was able to celebrate Shabbat again after weeks of practically no Jewish content in my life. Shabbat for us has always been about spending time with friends and family. We may go out to "play" sometimes (i.e. see a movie or a theatrical performance) but we have only missed spending Shabbat dinner with each other on a handful of occasions in the 14 years we have been married.

Because I am still not 100% on my feet, Rik offered to take me to shul for Shabbat morning services. I wanted to atttend only briefly, because the kiddush (light lunch) after services is such a lovely social moment. So we went for what one rabbi calls "kaddish and kiddush" -- showing up at the end of services, just in time to socialize.

We arrived in time to hear the second half of the guest speaker's talk on Israel - very powerful. Then we slipped into my usual spot and tried not to make too much of a fuss being greeted by others. I was able to sing full out, I stood for portions of the musaf service but not the whole thing, and I was able to say the final kaddish for my father.

It meant so much to me to be able to remember my dad in the context of my community. I had missed the end of the eleven months of saying kaddish for a parent while in the hospital, and knowing that I could mark the moment with my synagogue community was fulfilling. I started to cry a bit and realized that I had to focus on saying the words of the kaddish as well as remembering Dad.

Then after serivces Rik escorted me to a table and brought me a plate of egg salad, part of a bagel nd a small brownie, all I could eat. People came up to visit with me for at least an hour. All in all, going to shul was a tonic for my soul!

In the afternoon I visited with K while Rik took the first nap of the spring/summer in his hammock. Then I took a snooze, we ate some leftovers for dinner and went to the grocery store for a few things. What an exciting Saturday night! I was thrilled to be able to go out twice in one day.

May 16, 2009

A nice Friday

Despite having a broken door lock on the front door, yesterday was a very nice day.

We discovered the broken lock on Thursday and realized the only way into the house was through the back door. Now I hadn't tried the back steps from the deck down to the yard yet, but with L's help was able to get up the stairs and back into the house. Called the locksmith and he said they had an appointment Friday 10 AM - 12 noon. Thankfully they had an opening for that next day! And Bulger Lock is just around the corner from us.

D came over the help with lunch and have a visit. She was here while the locksmith was here, so we didn't get to have an outing, but the sun was shining and we sat outside and had a lovely catch up.

The locksmith had to replace some of the inner workings. That cost, plus his time for a service call, plus his time to install the new innards, was more than we were expecting. But now we have a door that opens and locks smoothly. You get what you pay for!

In the afternoon S, a colleague of Rik's, came over for a visit. We talked about home remodeling (they've done a kitchen, we want to do the bathroom). I had a lot of fun showing off our plans and some of the fixtures I have found so far.

Rik met some colleagues after school for a drink for someone's birthday. He had two mojitos at the Wedgwood Broiler, where they specialize in cocktails. (The Broiler also offers a mean prime rib sandwich on Monday lunch after they have served prime rib over the weekend). Rik had a fine end-of-the-work-week!

Friends from synagogue brought us Shabbat dinner: salmon, mashed potatoes, rolls. (I couldn't eat artichokes but we gave them to neighbors. This not being allowed to eat most vegetables thing is kind of fun to give into.)

N came over for ice cream later and Rik and I watched Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa. It was light and funny and the perfect way to end a week of recovery.

May 15, 2009

Another early morning

I'm still getting up three or four times every night, to pee and eat something. Last night I decided to post to Facebook on every awakening. So my FB friends go to see my 2 AM and 4 AM snacks and to read (if they were awake) about my first breakfast.

I continue to remain mesmerized by food. I want to talk about food when I'm not eating and eat when I'm not talking about it. Our fridge is still well-stocked with food delivered by friends -- rice pudding, applesauce, chicken soup, cake. Friends are bringing Shabbat dinner tonight (fish, mashed potatoes, white bread challah and chocolate pudding).

I love that the cooks asked what I wanted and what did I have a craving for. To be involved in the food preparation by being asked for my preferences makes me feel more human.

May 14, 2009

Mussar movement

While I was in the hospital, S explained to me part of the theory behind the Mussar movement as taught by Rabbi Ira Stone. In his recent visit to Seattle (when I was inpatient at Swedish), he taught three things one can do to develop a meaningful spiritual practice.
1) Bless God after every meal.
2) Say the Sh'ma
3) Celebrate Shabbat each week.
What I particularly appreciate about these three things is that they focus on the frequent (meals), the daily (Sh'ma) and the weekly (Shabbat). It's a way to bring meaning into everything one does in life, no matter how mundane. It turns the act of eating into holiness. That particularly resonated with me in light of my recent hospital stay and my new-found joy in sharing a meal with others.

Retail therapy

Today's outing involved retail therapy. I wanted to buy a new purse, and had a coupon from Macy's. Unfortunately the bag I wanted was last season's so they didn't have a good summer color left. So we shlepped over to TJ Maxx and I found the perfect purse -- not too big, not too small, Italian leather in ORANGE! It was a lot of money, but hey, I'm worth it. And in orange, it will still look spectacular in the fall.

Shopping was preceded by lunch out at California Pizza Kitchen. I didn't want pizza, and the entrees are large. So I had little chicken filled wontons from the appetizer menu. The portion was just right -- I ate them all -- and the vaguely Asian flavor was a hit with my taste buds. The waiter kindly had the kitchen remove the sesame seeds from my plate. Plus they had a cherry-limeade drink that was unbelievably delicious!

After the retail therapy I was hungry again (must eat every two hours or I crash), so I took L to Baskin and Robbins for ice cream. Jamoca Almond Fudge is my personal B&R favorite, which I have been enjoying since I was about 12 years old. L had raspberry chip sorbet, which she loved.

In all, this has been a lovely day. I can't think of anything that gives me more pleasure right now than spending time with a friend over a meal. All those hospital days when I ate alone were not quite torture, but they did serve to focus on food as fuel. Instead, for me, food can be a spiritual experience, and sharing a meal with another person is a gift from God.

Costco Run

Yesterday's outing involved Costco! I had printed 60+ photos and wanted to put them in the album, and K needed to make a Costco run too, so we combined efforts.

I actually cruised the store looking for a few things they might have that I might need, picked up my photos, and bought some yummy cheese, etc. Then I sat in the food court until I was so hungry I couldn't wait any longer, and bought myself a hot dog (and one for Rik to have at home). After much burping from the dog and Coke, K showed up and we went straight home.

I offered to buy him a hot dog, but he said that they just didn't appeal. How not? An all beef (used to be kosher) hot dog or Polish sausage on a soggy white bun, deli yellow mustard and sauerkraut. A childhood food memory come true. Although my childhood dogs came from Nathan's and they served those yummy cross-cut fries with the dog. It just goes to show you can take the girl out of New York but you can't take the New York out of the girl!

Maybe today I will make an egg cream for more childhood nostalgia.

May 13, 2009

Laughing Piggy

My friend C brought this crazy laughing piggy to the hospital. It laughs wildly with great enthusiasm and total abandon. Everyone -- medical staff, dining services, transport personnel -- had to squeeze it to hear the raucous laughing piggy. One woman who brought me trays on quite a few occasions, said she had to squeeze it every single time she came to my room -- it was a highlight of her day!

So if you need a laugh, click here to listen to the piggy and click here to purchase it.

You will laugh out loud every time you give piggy a squeeze!

Better sleep, still up three times at night

I still can't readjust back to normal sleep. With my bedtime snack and meds, I drink a whole glass of juice mixed with water. Then I wake up at 2 AM, 4 AM, and 5 AM needing to pee plus feeling hungry.

My 2 AM snack was chicken salad and applesauce. 4 AM saw me eating Ritz crackers with peanut butter. (I keep hoping the protein will help me get better sleep.) Now it's not quite 5:30 and I HAD to get out of bed, pee again, and eat some breakfast. Rik's alarm still hasn't rung but I simply could not stay in bed one more minute.

My in-between sleep is sound; I just can't seem to stop awakening in the middle of the night. Perhap as I transition off the meds four times a day, things will improve.

There's always a morning nap and second breakfast to look forward to.

May 12, 2009

Back from the doc

Saw Dr. Goldberg today for a post-discharge follow up. He says that I am cleared to do whatever I like (Star Trek movie!), although he wants me to take more potassium supplements. Rik will fill the scrip at the pharmacy and I should continue well on the road to recovery!

And this is the response from Swedish today

What a quick and positive reply to my letter, sent via email yesterday --

Subject: RE: praise for Swedish staff
Date: May 12, 2009 2:46:53 AM PDT

Dear Ms. Cohen:
Thanks so very much for your feedback. We are proud that your patient experience was a positive one, as we strive to deliver the best possible care in the case of every patient we serve.

Again, thanks for your thoughtfulness in taking the time to acknowledge these fine staff. Dr. Hochman & I will be sure that they receive this kind recognition for the great work they do.

Best to you,
Curtis Veal

Curtis F. Veal, Jr., MD
Immediate Past Chief of Staff, Swedish Medical Center
Pulmonary, Critical Care & Internal Medicine
Medical Director, Critical Care & eICU
Swedish Medical Center & The Polyclinic
801 Broadway, Suite 814
Seattle, WA 98122
Office 206.329.1760
Pager 206.997.5051
Mobile 206.790.7008

CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: This e-mail message, including any attachments, is for the sole use of the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential, proprietary, and/or privileged information protected by law. If you are not the intended recipient, you may not use, copy, or distribute this e-mail message or its attachments. If you believe you have received this e-mail message in error, please contact the sender by reply e-mail and destroy all copies of the original message.

Praising Swedish Medical Center

This is the letter I wrote to Rod Hochman, CEO and Curtis Veal, Chief of Staff of Swedish --
May 11, 2009

Rod Hochman MD, CEO
Curtis Veal MD, Chief of Staff
Swedish Medical Center
747 Broadway
Seattle WA 98122

Dear Dr. Hochman and Dr. Veal,

I write today to praise the medical, nursing, and support staff of Swedish’s First Hill campus.

On Saturday I was discharged after a 12-night inpatient stay on the 12th floor of the First Hill campus. Without exception, everyone treated me as an individual, warmly and with compassion. It was as though I was a sister, cousin, niece, even mother to the many people who cared for me, from the A La Carte team who toted me trays of food at all hours to the transport staff, the NACs and RNs. Of course, my doctors Sheldon Goldberg, Martin Siegel, Darlene Barr and Deb Klein were exemplary givers of the kind of medical attention top professionals provide.

I wish to name all these people so that you may place a copy of this letter in each personnel file. These staff deserve such recognition and more!

RNs: Amber (very sweet); Ashley (who really listens); Bonnie (float); Heather; Heidi (charge nurse); Helen (float with a lovely sense of humor); Jemina (float); Joanne; Jon (float extraordinaire); Juliet (old fashioned commitment to standards of care); Karen; Kelly; Kerry; Khristie; Lizzie; Naz; Nicole (so compassionate); Sarah (float); and William.

NACs: Acacia (nursing student); Alex; Amanuel; E; Enri; Marsha; Sheila; Weyni; YaYa

Transport: Sheila and Steve (who transported me twice and greeted me with a smile of recognition on the second occasion)

If I have missed anyone, it’s my own oversight. I tried to keep track of all the many people who took care of me during this lengthy stay.

In addition, I have been a patient at Providence on several occasions before and after Swedish acquired it. In my humble opinion, it appears that Swedish First Hill has fully integrated the Providence commitment to patient care. That to me was the strength that Providence brought to the merger; I am more than pleased to acknowledge that the merger works.

Sincerely and with many thanks to all those who cared for me,

Jill Cohen

May 11, 2009

Early school day

I woke completely at 5:25 AM and was so hungry had to get out of bed right away and eat. Thankfully no more 45 minute wait for juice and yogurt! I had corn flakes with Greek Gods honey yogurt and homemade apple sauce - so delicious! Trying to cut back on the apple juice too but it still tastes good to me. I'm diluting with half water now so my teeth don't rot from the sweetness.

Rik helped with my shower, fixed and ate his own brekky, dressed, fed and walked the dogs, and was out the door by 6:45 AM. So this first day's experiment in getting me ready to go while he does the same worked.

Now I will put on the radio and listen to KUOW while I either nap or do the crossword. Ah, such a life of leisure! It's too early to call anyone on the west coast, even to do business. My mom should be home from her daily exercise class soon and she doesn't mind in NJ if I call her at 6 AM Seattle time!

PS Rik planted potatoes, lettuce, chard yesterday. We went to the Fred Meyer to pick up a garden free standing frame to grow sugar snap peas against. I had an outing and it involved shopping! We also picked up a beautiful hanging basket of pink flowers that I can see through the front door window and truly beautifies the front of our house. Pizza for dinner was so yummy, the perfect ending to the day.

May 10, 2009

First day home

We had a quiet afternoon (nap time) and watched a movie (Guys & Dolls) after enjoying the chicken soup a friend had brought over. By then I was exhausted and could barely keep my eyes open. I crawled into bed (and I mean literally crawled) and the dogs cuddled up with me, one on my legs and the other against my back.

I slept pretty well, only got up twice to pee and have a snack. The other wake up moments have to do with being on hospital schedule for so long and having gotten used to be awakened for blood draws, vitals check etc.

I plan to show and dress now that I have eaten and then take a nap!

Today's breakfast - scrambled egg, toast with margarine, Jill-made banana/coffee smoothie (which I didn't much care for), sparkling apple juice. I just can't seem to get enough apple juice!

May 09, 2009

Jill's Home!!!

Jill is finally home and her puppies are the best therapy for her right now!! Husband is OK too. To everyone who sent a card, good wishes and prayers through the blog or Facebook Jill really appreciates it. And those of you who gave the gift of your time with a visit, that really meant more to her than she can ever thank you for. So I will thank you!

Rik (Jill's husband)

Still waiting for discharge

I stayed overnight last night because my potassium came in at 3.2 -- not the minimal 3.3 needed. They gave me potassium and magnesium overnight and will do another blood draw for labs at 6:45 AM. Hopefully positive results will arrive between 8 - 9 AM and I will get home this morning!

May 08, 2009

Still in hospital

My potassium did not increase high enough to justify a morning OR afternoon discharge. So I am getting more potassium now for the next 4 hours, then they will re-draw labs. If my potassium count hits 3.3, I get to go home tonight, as late as 9 or 10 PM.

So please visualize 3.3 as the target goal -- 3.5 would be even better -- so I can spend Shabbat at home.

Hopefully going home this morning

If my overnight labs are satisfactory, I have been provisionally approved foo discharge later this morning. YAY!

Meanwhile I have ordered a better breakfast: banana to mash up onto an English muffin; applesauce, soy mocha, and orange juice.

Last night's dinner was amazingly delicious to me. My first protein other than yogurt, I had a french dip sandwich (roast beef on white bread) (L, are you listening?) with au jus on the side. It was so good I ate a whoe half (if you can picture such a thing).

The best thing about food at home will be that I can manage my own portion control without waste. If I only want a little, I can only have a little and not feel that I am sending back perfectly good uneaten food.

So I am hopeful that I wil be discharged around 9 AM and be ensconced on my sofa with the dogs by 10 AM.

May 07, 2009

Hematocrit low; visualize red blood cells

Turns out my red blood cell count has been dropping, which is why I have shortness of breath. I am getting a transfusion later today, and may go home tonight or tomorrow.

So visualize more red blood cells, please! I'd like to spring this joint in a healthy way.

Day 11: Up early again, thought I'd post

Between 5 AM vitals check and meds, I am up early again. Although I did have a better night's sleep in general. I sure hope I can break this pattern of middle of the night awakenings once I am home!

Haven't seen a doc yet so still do definitive word on discharge. I think all the visualization of white cells was helpful, hence yesterday's request for more visualizing of a healthy colon, Or as one friend wrote on Facebook:


May 06, 2009

Jill wants to leave hospital

Since we all did so well visualizing white blood cells, Jill has asked that we all visualize her with a healthy enough colon so that she can leave the hospital ASAP and go home to her puppies!

Another parody

With apologies to Leonard Bernstein etc. and sung to the tune of "Maria" from West Side Story --

I met you last week, Diarrhea
And suddenly my life may never be the same to me

Say it soft and it's almost like pissing
Say it loud and you'll hear the spitzing

I soon hope to stop saying

Better night's sleep, awaiting breakfast

Turns out that tincture of opium gave me enough control to sleep much of the linght. Atican IV helped too.

Have a ordered the perfect hsopital breakfast for me:
vanilla yogurt in a bowl to mix with canned peaches and a banana

Chocolate Boost to mix with 2 shots espresso over ice for now

Orange juice to mix with gingerale for later

However I will be happy to get back to my own home and eat my own preferences.... soon, I pray.

May 05, 2009

11,000 white blood cells today

My white blood cell count jumped dramatically in the past three days, from 500 to 2000 to 11,000. Normal is 7000 - 20,000, I'm told.

Platelets are still low, so Rik will hopefully be able to order red grape juice from somewhere. I'm reliably told by other cancer patients that red, not purple, grape juice boosts platelets. So we will see what we will see...

Parody with apologies to ABBA

Sung to the tune of "Mamma Mia" -

Here I go again
My my, how I don't need ya

Here I go again
Wish I'd never seen ya

Oh, I've been broken hearted
Blue since the day you started
How I really wish you'd go away....

Day 8 @ Swedish - great afternoon, poorish night

I had a wonderful afternoon visiting with friends from 1 until Rik arrived at 7 PM after walking dogs, household stuff, eating his own dinner. (I am unconditionally impressed by his ability to hold down our "home front" while teaching his usual classes).

But the night was interrupted by more vomiting. I slept until 2, then again until 5:45, and just can't be in bed any more.

May 04, 2009

New hospital mocktail

I have created a new hospital mocktail:

Mix one part chilled vanilla Boost with one part highly chilled chocolate Boost. Serve over ice.

Tastier than juice with ginger ale, more high level calories. If I drink this all day long, maybe I will regain some lost weight and not have to worry about missing meals.

Good news on the white blood cell count

Went from 500 white blood cells yesterday to more than 2000 overnight, so please keep on visualizing 4000+ for me -- it's working!

Mixed night, better morning

Yesterday afternoon was lovely, visiting with friends. I actually got outside for 20 minutes, wearing a mask, covered with blankets and loving every breath of fresher air.

Had a rough night: at 12:50 used the toilet and something triggered vomit while I was still sitting. Cranberry juice everywhere, I think I won't have any more.

Then after they helped me change and cleaned up, slept for an hour and woke to the feel of wet sheets. Yup, peed in the bed. I must have been so soundly asleep that I didn't feel the urge to get up. So more clean pjs, fresh sheets. etc. I cant praise the Swedish staff highly enough!

I finally finished the night comfortably and am taking a break from my yummy breakfast of plain and vanilla yogurts mixed with chocolate pudding, and apple/orange juice with gingerale. Yum.

May 03, 2009

Thins I learned inpatient at Swedish Hospital

Again in no especial order:

Being weighed (i.e. being asked to get out of bed to stand on a scale) at 4 AM

Add 1 degree temperature when taking it under the arm to get the equivalent of taking it by mouth

Some nurses and nurse's aides are remarkable listeners and truly pay attention the what the patient says

Things to love about being inpatient in Swedish Hospital

In no particular order:

Straws (so you don't spill your drink all over yourself when reaching for it in the middle of the night

24 hour menu (even if it's all liquid diet)

Hot belly packs (wet a town under hot water; cover with plastic; place in pillow case; hold against your tummy)

Warm blankets straight from the blaknet heater

Jill's morning mocktail (2/3 cranberry juice; 1/3 orange juice; pour over ice, add a little selter or ginger ale to give it some fizz. I didn'r REALLY miss the vodka.)

Quiet night, rougher morning

I slept well at night but had a tough morning. Tried to eat the same breakfast as yesterday which I devoured (mango snoothie with yogurt) but had to ask for anti-nausea meds after two bites. That helped and eventually I finished 2/3 of it.

I'm still very thirsty all the time but most things make me cramp. I am mixing different juices with ginger ale over ice to see if this helps. Cold sweet things do seem to go down easier and stay down better. Must remember thagt later this evening, maybe combine tapioca or vanilla pudding with sherbet. No more ice cream for breakfast -- I can't handle dairy yet!

Again, for those who want to visit, please schedule with me via Facebook or the comment section of this blog. Please don't just show up, I may be asleep or too ill for visitors.

Keep on visualizing white blood cells for me!

May 02, 2009

Not going home any time soon

The most imporant thing for you, my family, friends and readers to understand is that although I am VERY sick, I am NOT at death's door. I'm in the chemo nadir (the lowest point of chemo cycles), when your blood counts take a rapid dive. Chemo is like a wide spray; it kills all rapidly dividing cells, which is why people lose their hair and nails, get nausea, skin problems, mouth sores and more. My chemo, 5-FU, gave me nausea, bowel issues and some troubles with the skin of my hands.

So as long as I have neutropenia (low blood counts), diarrhea, and nausea, I am staying in hospital. That could be as much as another week, maybe even longer. So this laptop is really a godsend, thank you CB, D and G for making it happen.

In the meantime, my closest friends (and you know who you are), may come visit IF you are not sneezing or coughing. Swedish is taking the swine flu pandemic very serously, and I am at particular risk to catch ANY infections. No babies or small children either unless there is another adult to stay with them in the visitors' lounge.

Visitors are welcome to stay for an hour. I am particularly fond of visitors on weekdays from 11ish to 2ish and again from 4ish to the end of visiting hours at 9 PM. Please contact me through the blog comment form if you want to set up a day and time. You will also need to call me before you show up.

I am a big believer in prayer and know that your blessings help me. My Hebrew name, for use in this siutation, is Yachna Maryam bat Kohen bat Masha Leah.

Do keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I struggle to come back up to normal.

Here is something you can do at home or anywhere. One of my docs wants me to vsiualize my body building more white blood cells. This is something you can do too. I need LOTS of them!

Jill is back online from Swedish Hospital

Yesterday Rik coordinated with several frends who might have a spare laptop with wireless internet that they would be willing to loan me while I am inpatient. D and G came through with a Mac PowerBook G4, which is simiar to the iMac we have at home. So here I am, typing slowly with many mistakes, trying to get used to not mousing, but back on line at last.

I love being reconnected to the larger world again. My hospital bed is as narrow as you can imagine, I haven't left it in days except to do the IV Pole Tango while walking the halls, and this reconnection to the larger world blows me away.

However, my fingers are slower than they were and each post seems to take much longer than usual, plus I have chemo brain, so don't expect more than one per day.

I appreciate all your kinds messages -- please keep them coming!

To check out this amazing Seattle medical institution, click