July 31, 2009

A little cooler

Yesterday was almost as bad as the day before -- not quite 100 degrees -- but it finally cooled off during the night. I actually had to ask Rik to get the blanket at about 3 AM when the sheet was no longer enough.

We had a minor fracas with the fridge where we are house sitting. It stopped cooling properly on the hottest day (Wednesday) and we were panicked about our hosts' full freezer. They didn't want us to call a repairman. Last night we ran into another neighbor, who is a contractor, and he helped us move the fridge further away from the wall, clean up all the papers and junk that had fallen behind it, vacuum the dust from the grill in the back and presto! The fridge started to cool again.

We weren't sure how long it would take to bring the temperatures back to normal, so we left the milk and other perishables in the freezer section with ice packs. Sure enough, frozen milk this morning. But it will thaw and no milk for our coffee is a small inconvenience in exchange for a working appliance!

July 30, 2009

Seattle heat

It's been hotter in Seattle than at any time in the measurable past. Yesterday it hit 104 degrees at Seatac airport, and was even hotter in Bellevue and Redmond. Being closer to the Puget Sound evidently meant losing a degree or two.

I had lunch with a friend and so got into an air-conditioned restaurant for an hour, but Rik stayed home with the dogs all day long. He bathed them twice in cool water, gave them ice chips to suck and chew on, and tried to keep them as comfortable as possible. We are worried about 14 year old Pumpkin in this heat, but so far he is eating the ice and does stop panting at times.

I tried to take an afternoon nap just to escape the heat mentally and was somewhat successful. A second shower was a better idea. The workers on our bathroom remodel were really sweltering. The tiler had to work outside to cut the three hundred-plus pound slab of Jerusalem stone that will become the countertop. Even in the house, with all windows and drapes closed, it was sill more than ninety degrees.

And it's not much better where we are staying. So we are trying to cope, drinking lots of water, making lots of ice cubes, and thinking cool thoughts.

July 27, 2009

Good MRI results

The results of last week's brain MRI were good -- no evidence of metastases in the brain. But it still doesn't explain the sudden onset of vertigo, which by the way has not happened since last Thursday. Dr G says to wait and see if the vertigo returns and if it does, then we will address it.

In the meantime I am thrilled to have a good baseline brain MRI!

July 24, 2009

Wandering Jews again

Tonight we head back to Wedgwood to house sit for our neighbors. At least we will be closer to home at this location! It sure beats driving there every day to check on the remodel status, water plants, etc.

We spent most of the day running bathroom-oriented errands. First we went to NW Shower Door and chose a panel-door-panel configuration with a "C"-shaped handle in clear glass. Then we stopped for a quick lunch at the Shanty Cafe (reviews here). When I first moved to Seattle I lived on the west slope of Queen Anne hill and on the days my car needed an oil change, tire rotation etc. I would have breakfast at the Shanty. It's still good and was PACKED when we arrived just before 1 PM.

Then it was off to Builder's Hardware & Supply Company to choose a doorknob and hinges. They appear to have what seems to be every hinge, door knob, house number and decorative drawer pull known to mankind.

Last, we drove to Daly's Paint to match the color on the old door hinges so all three hall doors will be the same color, and to pick up small samples of the paint colors we chose. They are a reddish brown for the soffits, sea green for the walls above the shower tiles and ceiling, and cream for the remaining walls. (Just not the same cream as the current doors and trim.) Once the sheet rock has been primed, we will be able to test the paint colors to be sure they are the shades we want. Such a convenience for only a few dollars!

July 22, 2009

MRI today

I had my brain MRI today. Half of a one mg ativan tablet relaxed me enough to get into the tube. My eye mask helps a lot to keep me from freaking out at being inside the narrow MR tube. But the ear plugs didn't really do anything. The clanging and ringing and random LOUD sounds are so unpleasant. My ears rang for several minutes after I was finished.

I had forgotten to ask if this test was going to be performed with injectable dye, called contrast. But the technician read that I have a port-a-cath and asked if I wanted them to use it. I always say yes to this request, because I hate being stuck with a needle. So off I trooped to the infusion room, where a nurse accessed my port quickly and easily. Then back to the MRI room, had the scan, and back again to the infusion center to be de-accessed from the port. The whole process took about an hour. I get the results on Monday.

The ativan made me drowsy, so after returning to our host family's home and eating some lunch, I took a two hour nap. It was wonderful! I don't think I moved the entire time I was ensconced on the sofa. Hopefully I will still be able to sleep tonight after such a massive nap this afternoon.

July 20, 2009

Bathroom update

Here are some new photos of the progress on our bathroom.

The floor is completely tiled, just awaiting grout.

The decorative tiles from Israel look terrific in the shower!

July 19, 2009

Exercise today!

I got more exercise today than I have had since my hospital discharge in May. Yes, I walk the dogs every day, and pick the fruits of our garden, water the plants etc. But today I walked the two miles around Seattle's Greenlake with nary a twitch of discomfort. (The fact that I had premedicated with half of a vicodin may have had something to do with it.)

I brought Bob the Cavalier along and he panted a lot in the heat but seemed to enjoy the unusually long walk.

We joined friends for a yummy Chinese dinner at our favorite place, Chiang's Gourmet on Lake City Way. Only the best Chinese food outside of the International District! I think they are trying to improve their service, which has always been spotty at best. We were asked to complete a brief survey. And the waiters were terrific about bringing each dish piping hot from the kitchen as it was ready. We had vegetarian spare ribs (made with taro, I think), vegetarian hot and sour soup, tea smoked duck, moo shu beef, sauteed green beans, green onion pancake, and handmade noodles. It was all delicious and fed eight people for under $75, with a small amount of leftovers to bring home for our hosts' daughter. Yum!

July 18, 2009

Vertigo again

A little more vertigo last night, but this time I think due to sleeping on the sofa bed. When you roll, it collapses under you and so it feels a little like being seasick. Hopefully next week's scan will say this is so....

We hope to have corrected this by putting the mattress on the floor, so it feels firmer.

July 17, 2009

A little vertigo today

I had a little touch of vertigo in the middle of the night and again this morning, but both times it disappeared in moments. I guess I should be tracking this to count how many episodes until the next time I see Dr G.

July 15, 2009

Newer news from oncologist

Dr G, Seattle's best oncologist, was concerned enough about my spells of vertigo that he has ordered a brain MRI for next week. I've never had a brain scan before (I don't think. Neither of us could remember.). I passed his quick neurological tests - follow the finger with my eye, touch my finger to his, then to my nose -- so this is more on the order of ruling out any brain mets.

My tumor marker has jumped from the previous month, so it's possible that the reduction in tumor size I reported earlier today was due more to the 5FU than to the Megace. But that's something we can't know until we scan that site again in a few months.

The brain MRI is mid-week next week and I see Dr G to get the results at the beginning of the following week. I will report the news when I get it.

Dancing with cancer should perhaps be subtitled living with uncertainty.

Latest onco report

Today I see the oncologist again for a monthly check up. Last week I had a repeat ultrasound of the masses in both breasts to see what, if anything, had changed. The radiologist said that each mass was smaller than at original ultrasound - a good thing!

The questions are:

1) Will the oncologist agree? (I don't see how not, these are quantitative measurements.)
2) Is it because of the chemo which I stopped in April?
Or 3) Is it because of the Megace which I started in May?

More news later when I return from the doc....

July 11, 2009

Remodel pictures

Rik got the computer where we are house sitting to read the camera photo card, so I do have pics to share after all!

This is where the washer and dryer will hook up.

The dryer vents up into a soffit, a false ceiling that hides items you don't want to look at. Our soffit will run all the way around the room and hide plumbing etc. One thing we have plenty of in this space is height!

This is the plumbing for the rainfall shower control. Note some sheetrock is in!

July 10, 2009

Sorry no photos

While we are the wandering Jews in Northgate (until next Friday), I'm unable to post photos of the bathroom remodel. The computer we are using this week and next doesn't have iPhoto or Photoshop, so you will just have to imagine that the sheetrock is going in today, the electric outlet boxes are all in place, including the one in the medicine cabinet, and that all will be ready for the tiler on Monday. Assuming the tile arrives today as planned.....

It's been lots of fun to watch the behind-the-scenes part of the remodel. As I told E the project manager, who has done all the work so far himself, he gets to see this stuff all the time, but most of us can barely imagine what things look like under the painted walls.

We've been fortunate so far that there were no yucky surprises other than some ants. A good bug bombing appears to have taken care of them.

I will post more photos when I can.

July 08, 2009

Bathroom update

The framing of the bathroom is moving along swimmingly. The wall and frame for the washer/dryer is up; the shower has three niches for soap, shampoo etc. (two by the rainfall shower head; one behind where the bench will go); and there is enough space for a recessed medicine cabinet.

Today Rik and I spent a ton of money at Home Depot. We found a metal medicine cabinet box with oval mirror (something I was afraid we would have to spend too much money on), towel rings for hand towels, and a robe hook. We ordered a heated towel rack from Amazon.com. The tiles arrive on Friday and the rest of the plumbing fixtures might be ready to pick up as early as tomorrow. This is particularly auspicious timing as the tiler starts work next Monday.

We are only $1500 over budget at this point. Maybe some of the other costs will actually come in under budget....

PS No more vertigo!

July 06, 2009


I woke up today feeling just fine. Took a shower, stripped the linens off the bed in preparation for our move to the next place, got out clean clothes, closed the window against the draft of cold air (we are back to usual Seattle weather now) and IMMEDIATELY felt that the room was spinning, for no apparent reason.

I've had vertigo once before, after my first treatment of zometa, and it made me seriously dizzy for about an hour. This seemed to be worse. I could barely stand, staggered down the hall to get Rik, and sat upright in a kitchen chair in the hope that eating a piece of dry bread would help settle me. No dice. Even a cute one egg omelet made by K didn't help, but did taste good.

I staggered back down the hall to the sofa, cuddled up under the comforter and dozed for several hours. Finally around noon-thirty I woke up, felt hungry, and decided the vertigo was gone enough to dress and make something to eat (macaroni and cheese, my favorite comfort food).

It was a most disconcerting morning. I hope the vertigo is gone for good!

July 04, 2009

The wandering Jews

Rik and I have spent a week with our friends the G's. As the wandering Jews, we are trying to be good house guests. The G's now call us family, so we must be successful.

Even the three dogs are getting along well!

We have enjoyed greeting one another in the morning, walking the dogs, cooking dinner together, and generally having fun. Last night after a delicious Shabbat dinner, we played Scrabble and K beat us all. (He had the first turn and got a bingo - a seven letter word - for the very first time in his life).

Tomorrow or Monday we continue on our wander and will be house-sitting for other friends while they are on vacation. It will be so quiet to have just Rik and I (and Pumpkin and Bob) after being in the lively G household for a week.

Bathroom remodel update

Here are some "before" photos of our bathroom in it's most naked state. Stripped down to the studs, you can see what lies beneath the pretty veneer of a finished room....