Wednesday, May 12, 2010

May 9, 2010

Yesterday eve, Anyra went out to dinner with Heather and Rachael, old time friends.

Matt, Falipa and I went to eat at a Picanate', a Taqueria that is in the canal or Hispanic section of San Rafael... just east of where the old Circuit City used to be. I had been there before when I used to live here. Matt and I each had the taco salad... and it was a meal for 2. It was so incredibly tasty, fresh, and the spices and flavors were like no other I've experienced in any other place. The walls were covered with beautiful mosaics depicting scenes in nature and the comfy chairs and tables with windows all around gave it a very cheerful and comfortable feeling.
In the place of the old Circuit City is the Mi Pueblo Food Center... a giant super market catering to the Hispanic community. That was an incredible experience to go there. As we approached the big, brightly painted Food center, we first passed a large take-out BBQ serving people simple dishes from the window. Just beyond that were some table and chairs and another BBQ set up where they were cooking oysters - very large oysters and serving them with hot sauce and salsas.
Inside the store to the left was a huge area for eating as well and a very long cafeteria style food service serving more choices than I'd ever seen before. The produce section adjacent to that had an impressive huge array of vegetable and fruits and bulk items, like green garbanzo beans, tamarind seeds, cactus leaves, and dried beans in big containers. There were aisles of food like in a regular market but we stayed on the periphery where the produce, diary, meats and deli was. Matt told me that now the Latino community is big enough, they can sell their own meats raised and butchered the way that they like. He said they have better husbandry standards for their meat and the prices all around were better than our markets. The chickens looked fresh and real.... not factory raised. Besides the meat looking incredibly fresh and offering more cuts than I'd ever seen before, they had tripe, beef tendons, beef hoofs, chicken legs etc. they sold butchered pigeons which were incredibly tiny.
The diary section sold huge wheels of cheese, specialty cold cut meats, aspics of some sort, homemade yogurts in several flavors. It went on and on.
Matt figured that he paid about 40% less for the items when it was tallied up.
I couldn't imagine doing anything else that exciting on a Saturday night in Marin.

View story at

Pigeon Story May 3rd, 2010

This pigeon showed up in Keeler, Monday evening begging for a drop of water. John was out in front outfitting the LandRover for camping. He gave it a bit a water which it drank up in a hurray. It came into the garage and didn't want to leave. I think it was at that point John decided to name it Percy. At one point Percy got inside the house and clearly wanted to stay. We chased him about ...finally catching him. He was banded on both legs. The clues on the one band helped yield the info off of the internet as to the club that the owner belonged to and a name and phone number. We called and were informed the pigeons had been released this last weekend in Fernley (?) Nevada near Sparks. It was a pigeon race. 'Percy' really was off course from the intended course, west to northern CA.
I gave Percy some 7 grain raw cereal which it gobbled up. Percy spent the night in the garage, roosting on top of the garage door. In the morning there was pigeon poop dotted around the garage. As much as we wanted to befriend this little fellow, we were both leaving and didn't want to just turn him out into the open desert, so we managed to catch him again and take him down to our neighbors who feed the birds and have a lot of trees. He can hang out there and recoup before taking off again.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

2 months later

I'm feeling so much better now, 2 months after my last chemo. The watering eyes, the numb fingers and toes and a few other bothersome side-effects are either gone or almost gone. If I over do it-not enough rest or too much activity the side-effects start 'knocking at my door'. I guess it is just another way for my body to tell me to ease off and take it easy.
A couple of weeks ago, John and I climbed from Whitney Portal to Lone Pine Lake. This is a 5 mile round trip, an elevation gain of around 1500 ft and we end up at 10,000 ft before descending to the Lake. For both me and John to make this trip
gave us a great feeling of accomplishment. John had a recent Angioplasty and I hadn't done any trail hiking in a year.
This last weekend we were invited along with our hiking group up to one of the member's cabins in the mountains. We were at 8500 ft among Aspen with mountain streams and waterfalls and towering mountains around us. It was a sublime weekend of fun hiking and eating. After being surrounded by up to 15 wonderful friends, it felt strangely empty to return home. I did indeed miss my hiking family.
I will post 3 photos: An Aspen glade, a summer sunset in Ridgecrest and the hiking group photo. Our group's designated main video and photo guy had to time the photo and then hop into the picture. Quite a few in the picture did over 10+ mile hikes up to over 11,000 ft several days in a row... others of us did more moderate hikes or some did lovely walks along the mountain stream nearby and the oldest in the group had just turned 86.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

July 2, 2009

It has been a long road to this point. I'm feeling a little better. The low red cell count is slowly coming up, although I'm 2 points shy of being on the low mark of normal. Seems I've been there mostly most my life. No wonder I've never had the energy of most people. Mom said that she was always on the low end too. So my energy is coming back and with it the ability to laugh at a few funny things. Also, I can get something done besides eat and sleep. I've started thinking about the other side of this ordeal and about trips I'd like to make. Before, there was NO imagination for anything, no humor, no nothing. I am still pretty much a dial tone on most things .... seems all of those things take energy. On Sunday, I was in Albertsons and I slipped on some water and both feet went out from under me and I fell on my right hip. Fortunately, I don't think I did any real damage...just bruised a bit and my lower back and hip is sore. But that afternoon, I walked my left foot into a chair leg and broke some tiny bones in my 4th toe and joint. So my foot is so sore and it hurts to walk so there goes my major form of exercise. boo hoo.

I went in for a mammogram and that was clear and then got a CT scan in preparation for radiation...then tattooed so they maintain their aim with the radiation gun. I had my first radiation today.

So besides my foot being out of whack, my back being sore, I doing pretty good. I'm still not much use to anybody but I hope things will improve.

John went to Bakersfield this week and got a stent put into one of the arterties for his heart. He's doing OK but has 2 medications to take now where as he didn't take any. So we've been watching Wimbleton .... talk about being couch potatoes!! well, it is just for a short time.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Hummingbird Saga

This morning (June 2nd) as I pulled out of the driveway and started down the street, I noticed bird crap on the front window. I turned on the windshield wipers and spray to wash the window. It sort of came clean but then I noticed a pine cone(?) strange leaf (?) stuck to one of the windshield wipers. I turned them on again and the thing didn't was still stuck there. I was weirded out by this little brown gray shape that didn't really look like any pine cone or leaf we'd have around here. So I stopped the car at the corner and got out to inspect. To my horror it was a baby hummingbird attached to the wiper. I felt it had to be dead especially after what I just put it through. I inspected it and it seemed somewhat alive although it looked to be in shock, it was wet from the windshield wiper fluid and even though it had some feathers, it was clear, it had a ways to go. It had to have fallen out of a nest that was in the tree my car was parked under. I got a kleenex and wrapped it around the little fella... (he had iridescent green feathers just showing on his back) and tried to pull him off the windshield wiper. He was holding on for dear life. I put him on my lap and drove back to the house. I inspected the tree and fortunately found the nest within reach. There was a bird already there and I wondered if this little guy had been shoved out of the nest. I figured I had to give him one more chance and tried to deposit him on top of the nest. After several unsuccessful attempts, that resulted in him falling to the ground because the occupant brother didn't want to give up his spot, I got the little guy to grab hold...and there I left him, perched on top of his brother in the nest.
After several hours out I returned home and took a look. Both little guys were nestled in the nest now and I took a picture. If that little guy survives, he'll have stories to tell.
After returning that day, I checked on the little hummers and found the 2 little guys nestled side by side in the nest. I checked maybe one or two more times the next couple of days and saw near the end of day, the mother and 2 Jr. hummers in the nest. Then about June 5th, the weather turned colder and the wind was blowing. I went out just about sunset and peered at the nest. Nestled in that nest were 4 hummingbirds. I figured it had to be mom, dad and the 2 little ones. The nest stretches to accommodate as it is made from tiny vegetable matter, black- widow spider webs that give it strength and their great stretchable quality and then down presumably from the hummingbird's plumage. A few days later, the nest, all stretched out, was an empty abode. The family had taken flight.

June 9, 09 more musings

To take a trip to the darker side without specific details, there has been a number of other problems that I've had to deal with. For one, I continue to have some neuropathy that I took medication for the soreness particularly in the hands so I couldn't bear to touch anything. The medication helped but I'm not sure it helped with the numbing. Still fingers and toes are numb. One evening, I looked at my feet and they looked like the feet of a corpse... they were gray and my big toes that had been red were turning blue, the nails looked discolored (one still is). I was freaked out. I had had a good day...done my moderate walk where I was out maybe 30 or 40 minutes for brisk walking and then I did weights later. But I put my thongs on and went out to walk around the block...short distance. When I got back my feet looked better with more circulation. And then I soaked them in a warm Epsom salt bath. My finger nails are discolored, my tear ducts have stopped ducting tears so my eyes water a lot and so it looks like I'm crying much of the time, my nose drips terribly sometimes. But I think it is getting a little better. The nurse told me to take 50 mg of B6 twice a day. So I just added that to my pile of pills. B6 is for the nerve damage that is happening. This is a hard road to be sure. I haven't even gone into the horrible constipation that comes after the chemo treatments.

My internist is pretty much against me doing much exercise and activity. She says I need to give my body time to heal and go through this. I have tried to find a happy middle ground where I can keep up some semblance of fitness and still do OK. I feel better anyway after a little exercise besides it helps me stay in a positive mood throughout this thing. I just don't try and do too much. It seems much of my life has been trying to find that elusive point of balance in life. I just thought that maybe when one is at that point of balance it would feel like hosts of angels dancing on the head of the pin.

I had a massage right after chemo this time and it sure felt good as it does always. My muscles really need to have the massage to help them through this ordeal. Fresh made vegie juice is always helpful. Must do that again real soon.

Friday, June 5, 2009

June 5, 2009 - after the 6th Chemo

Well folks: the span of time after my 5th Chemo was quite hard. I got a little too tired doing not much. I was - well depressed. I had to remind John that I am usually a self starter, basically positive with each new day, and only a small percentage of my life has been feeling as blue as I was then feeling. Then I had my labs and found out my red blood cell count had dropped even more. Chemo does that and being always on the verge of anemic all my life didn't help. I decided that taking iron pills and extra folic acid pills and eating iron rich foods just wasn't doing it. It was time to call in the big guns and buy either some calves liver or some Braunschweiger and start having that in a sandwich daily. Almost immediately I felt an improvement. Back in my late teens to my 40's, I'd always buy calves liver or Liverwurst when I started to feel down and that would do it for me. Then I read that those foods are not that good for us and they add to high cholesterol which by then I was told to avoid so I stopped buying the stuff.'s all a matter of balance isn't it? So it will be interesting if my labs reflect the extra iron in my system. If not, then chalk it up to the mightly placebo effect. In which case, maybe I'll try a Shaman next.
Obviously, I'm feeling pretty good that I'm on the last of 6 chemo sessions and hopefully will only continue to feel better. I had the 6th session 2 days ago and so far have felt pretty good...weak/tired which is normal but better than last session. I've kept up exercise: walking -distance dependant on energy but a min. of 30 minutes per day. Also weights and some yoga on the patio. Lovely. So I feel good that I've continued with my exercise regime that I began before this whole process started and I've even improved upon it. My knees are in good shape now where-as a year ago it looked like I'd have to have knee surgery because they hurt so much. The improvement is due to the weights. The pads in my knees are still thin so no climbing mountains or carrying heavy loads but I can walk and do moderate hiking. How grateful I am that I could make that improvement with just working out with weights 3 times a week. Now the muscles do the work and there's less wear and tear on the pads.
Next up, radiation starts sometime after July 1st. A friend who is now going through radiation, said it is a lot easier than chemo. Good! Something more to feel thankful for.