Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Christmas Chemo

We got up at the crack of dawn to get to the hospital by 9 this morning. My red blood counts are O.K. now, so I'm off the EPO, but getting another injection for my white blood count. It's always something, isn't it?

I went armed with a bag of Christmas sweeties and the nurses were very appreciative, but I still had to wait half an hour for a bed after I'd seen the doctor.

The doctor wants me off all my medication except what I normally take (thyroid and anti-depressant). She says she's appalled at the number of prescriptions I have. I said I was appalled, too, and I wasn't taking anything any more except I was still weaning myself off the last variation of cortisone.

I told her about the cats and how I think the blockage I feel in my throat and chest (that no one can find) are really an allergic reaction, and I want to start on an anti-histamine, she snapped, "Later"! O.K. Perhaps, if there is something there, it will show when I get the CT scan on the 8th of January. The scan will include the thorax. (I guess she does listen to me.)

No one seemed to notice I have a cold, even though I'm croaking rather than talking, when I can speak at all. We did notice that I have gained 2 kilos. Crap! I'm not even eating, compared to my usual voracious appetite.

We wish you the joys of the season.

The people: Nick & Margot
The dogs: Van-Ly & Nala
The cats: FloJo, Harry & Miosa

Sunday, 20 December 2009

House-- Terrace -- and Weather -- Corrected - Really

We (the Royal "we" aka Nick) are making progress. Here is the dug-out terrace. Or part of it.

I apologise for the length of the slide show. My cats are just too cute.

And in other news: I've got a cold. A mild one, but a cold.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

I think I'm Allergic to My Cats


I've had cats since I was five years old. I wouldn't even give up the ones I don't like -- and if you like them all indiscriminately, you have no. . . discrimination. Cats are people, too.

Since I started regular hospital visits (my own), I have noticed that I don't sneeze or need half a box of tissues a day as I do at home. And this congestion in my throat and chest for which I had an X-ray and echogram last month? Comparing notes with Nadine the other day, these are the symptoms that her daughter, Maella, gets when she's around cats.

Well, rats, I say! I can't give away the cats. For a start, who in their right mind would take FloJo? Unless they've never had a cat before and don't know any better. Besides, she's ten years old. And Harry is seven. And I love Miosa, who is only two.

So I've now added Clarytine to my daily dose.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

No Chemo Today

"Today" was actually "yesterday," but I'm prepared to ignore that if you are. Anyway, the hospital called before I left the house -- before I got up, actually -- to say that my blood tests weren't O.K. and not to come in. Just come for my next regular appointment, which is the 22nd. I haven't received my copy of the results, yet, but probably will tomorrow (which you might want to refer to as "today").

The blood enhancer that I'm taking comes as pre-loaded syringes in packs of 4 and as singles. The pharmacist gave me a package of 4 and tonight I went back to collect the other 2, to find that it no longer comes in singles, only 4s. At 1100€ for 4, I am reluctant to waste 2, so now have to call the oncologist and see if she wants me to stop at the first 4 or do 8 weeks. I had no idea!

Today, I got out of bed and dressed, voluntarily, for only the second time (yesterday was the first) in a couple of months. Staying inside gets depressing and I decided I needed some sunshine. At last I have been in France long enough, or find myself in circumstances such, that I go outside and sit on the bench on the sidewalk in front of the house in the sun. Like all the old people. O.K., young people, too. It's sort of like sitting on your front porch. When they redo the road and pavement in the spring, we may not be able to have benches any longer. I can't see that working.

I take Nala with me, knowing that I will feel guilty if I don't give her at least a little walk after she's been batting the back of my shins. How bad is this: she walks farther and faster than I can.

It's now the next day (I give up calculating) and my blood results have arrived. They're worse than last week. So glad I'm getting these 300€ a throw injections.

I got up again. After 3 days, I no longer have to sit and rest after the first 3 steps.

We took Nala and Van-Ly for the ride (and me, for the ride) when Nick went to pick up a friend's cement mixer today. The nice thing about everyone in the area knowing your dogs is that Jackie, the worker on the next farm, brought Nala back when she wandered up the mountain to see what there was to see. Somehow, Jackie has the impression that she's deaf.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Update: Body & House

It's hard to write when your favourite cat is draped across your neck.
  • I've had my second doping injection; still not feeling much better.
  • This was the second week in my series-of-three chemo sessions
  • The last session in the next series will be 6 January
  • I have an appointment at Lyon on the 18th of January to check progress
  • My favourite foods have become McDo cheeseburgers, pizza & ice cream
  • We have installed photovoltaic solar panels
What a deal. We were planning solar panels for heating and hot water, but the others were iffy because they cost so much. Then a salesman showed up with a deal we couldn't refuse.

The company get you a loan. They do all the paperwork and I guess they underwrite the loan because no one would ever give us a loan before. I think the interest is something like 3%.

They install the panels and arrange for you to be connected to the electricity grid.

For the period of amortisation (8 years), your tax credit (which we get in cash from the government because we don't pay taxes) and your profits from selling electricity to the grid, go to pay off the loan.

After 8 years, all the profits are yours, 12 years remain of the guaranteed price from the electricity board, and 12 years of the guarantee for the panels, which will probably last another 15 or 20.

In other words, you get the whole thing without putting out a penny. In fact, the day they installed the panels, Nick came in with a cheque for 2,000€ which the company gave us to cover our first loan payment because the tax credit and money from the electricity board may not have arrived, yet.