January 29, 2015

Visualize white blood cells

My white blood cells from Monday's lab draw were too low to permit me to have chemo on Tuesday. I've been caught between too much energy and things to do; fatigue after being too active; napping for two hours or longer every afternoon; and more insomnia at night.

Which is why I'm typing at 11:18 pm.

I go back to Dr G's  office for labs tomorrow and then we'll see what he orders in the way of treatment.

In the meanwhile it's supposed to be sunny and warm(er) again in Seattle, so Rik and I will run some fun errands at the Pike Place Market. I have a craving for sumac, which I can only find at Market Spice, and there's a new gelato place I hear I must try. It's a date day!

This is the toy white blood cell I received as a gift.
Now you know what to visualize.

January 19, 2015

New computer

I didn't realize what a control freak I remain, even after living with advanced cancer for twelve-plus years (something that one has no control over), until we bought a new iMac last week.

We'd been talking about this for more than a year, since the old computer was hit by lightning. Don't ask. It hadn't failed completely but it was older and slow. We have had Macs for years.

I was at The Mac Store getting iPhone advice from Mike the Macologist. Afterwards I browsed the new iMacs and saw there was a special loan: buy one of the two models on the deal and pay 0% interest for six, twelve or eighteen months. Like buying a new car except less money. (Hah.) I texted Rik back and forth, the deal expired the next day, so we went back together and bought a new computer.

Rik set it up. All is hunky dory, except I can't get used to the new keyboard (no number pad, only a back delete button). Or the updated software, such as Safari. Where are the emails in the Mail inbox? Where are my Notes? Yes, Rik backed up everything before we bought the new computer, but some things are either still hiding or never copied.

I'm trying to use Pages for the first time. I haven't even tried Numbers, although it's certainly a better name than Excel. And I know very little about Power Point, so Keynote hasn't been an issue. Yet.

In short, my control freakiness is still present and accounted for. I'm sure this is because there are so many things I have so little control over in my life. Nonetheless, I am frustrated, trying to learn new tricks, and trying not to take out too much of this frustration on Rik.

Just venting here.

January 12, 2015

Tumor marker down again

Just a quick update to say that my tumor marker went down another 30 points after last month's chemo. Dr G is watching my red cell count (I am a bit anemic). My white cell count is okay but my platelets are low.

I started another round of Abraxane again today. Plus Avastin and Faslodex (two shots in the tuchis). I'm still taking Aromasin daily as well as Cymbalta, L-glutamine powder and gabapentin/neurontin to help with the neuropathy in my feet. And a multivitamin. And vitamin D (not so much sunshine here in the Pacific Northwest). And calcium/magnesium. I'm sure there's something else mixed in there.

How do I keep all this straight?

January 06, 2015

Jewish Haiku/Jewish Zen

This was in an email from my friend P. Haiku are Japanese poems of seventeen syllables, in three lines of five, seven, and five, traditionally evoking images of the natural world.

Beyond Valium,
peace is knowing one's child
is an internist.

On Passover we
opened the door for Elijah.
Now our dog is gone.

After the warm rain
the sweet smell of camellias.
Did you wipe your feet?

Her lips near my ear,
Aunt Sadie whispers the name
of her friend's disease.

Today I am a man
Tomorrow I will return
to the seventh grade.

Testing the warm milk
on her wrist, she sighs softly
But her son is forty.

The sparkling blue sea
reminds me to wait an hour
after my sandwich.

Like a bonsai tree
is your terrible posture
at my dinner table.

Jews on safari --
map, compass, elephant gun,
hard sucking candies.

The same kimono
the top geishas are wearing:
I got it at Loehmann's.

The shiva visit:
so sorry about your loss.
Now back to my problems.

Mom, please!
There is no need
to put that dinner roll in your purse.

Sorry I'm not home
to take your call. At the tone
please state your bad news.

Is one Nobel Prize
so much to ask from a child
after all I've done?

Today, mild shvitzing.
Tomorrow, so hot you'll plotz
Five-day forecast: feh.

Yenta. Shmeer. Gevalt.
Shlemiel. Shlimazl. Meshuganah
Oy! To be fluent!

Quietly murmured
at Saturday Synagogue services,
Blue Jays 5, Red Sox 3.

A lovely nose ring,
excuse me while I put my
head in the oven.

Hard to tell under the lights.
White kippah or
male-pattern baldness.

Jewish Buddhism:
If there is no self
whose arthritis is this?

Be here now.
Be someplace else later.
Is that so complicated?

Drink tea and nourish life;
with the first sip, joy;
with the second sip, satisfaction;
with the third sip, peace;
with the fourth, a Danish.

Wherever you go, there you are.
Your luggage is another story.

Accept misfortune as a blessing.
Do not wish for perfect health, or a life without problems.
What would you talk about?

The journey of a thousand miles begins with
a single Oy.

There is no escaping karma.
In a previous life,
you never called,
you never wrote,
you never visited.
And whose fault was that?

Zen is not easy.
It takes effort to attain nothingness.
And then what do you have?

The Tao does not speak,
does not blame,
does not take sides.
The Tao has no expectations,
demands nothing of others.
It is not Jewish.

Breathe in.
Breathe out.
Breathe in.
Breathe out
Forget this and attaining Enlightenment will be
the least of your problems.

Let your mind be as a floating cloud.
Let your stillness be as a wooded glen
And sit up straight.
You'll never meet the Buddha with such
rounded shoulders.

Deep inside you are ten thousand flowers.
Each flower blossoms ten thousand times.
Each blossom has ten thousand petals.
You might want to see a specialist.

Be aware of your body.
Be aware of your perceptions.
Keep in mind that not every physical
sensation is a
symptom of a terminal illness.

The Torah says,
Love your neighbor as yourself.
The Buddha says,
There is no self.
Maybe we're off the hook.

January 01, 2015

Happy new year!

2014 was fun, a little rocky, but definitely a good year. Facebook friends can see highlights there. They include:

  • wonderful meals and gatherings with friends 
  • that (mostly) fabulous trip to Bulgaria
  • reaping the fruits of our garden
  • successfully revisiting a former chemotherapy
  • family visits
  • chocolate and more chocolate!

We just returned from a family visit, and I am a bit jet-lagged but wanted to post a new year's wish.

May this year be filled with good health, prosperity, and the ability to find daily joy in things large and small.

And chocolate. Plenty of chocolate!

This is the way a cancer patient travels by air to avoid exposure to germs
when in the chemo nadir (low and riskiest point). Nice selfie, don't you agree?