Friday, 31 December 2010

Margot remembered

Margot was buried on Tuesday, 21st, with many friends and relatives taking part in a simple ceremony to remember her life.  This was followed by an aperitif and then a meal. Everyone has told me how Margot would have enjoyed seeing us all getting together in this way and I feel that it worked out exactly how she would have liked it.

Thanks to my sister and her husband the chows and I passed a peaceful holiday with the family. We even had snow which was a real treat for Nala.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Thanks to all

I am overwhelmed by all the people who have fond memories of Margot and are sending me massages of support. Here at home I also have a constant stream of friends and neighbors who are helping me organize a special send-off for Margot.

The funeral will be at 10:30 Tuesday morning (21st) at the cemetery here in our village of Sahune. Followed by an aperitif and a lunch for family and friends. I am sorry that all of you can not be there but for anyone near enough please come along.

Many people have ask if they can send flowers or make some contribution to a memorial. Margot's wish was that the best memorial she could ask for would be a contribution to a worthy charity (probably cancer research if you are looking for ideas). As you can see by the advertising around this page she was always trying to do something for others and in the last few years she took an active interest in the Livestrong Foundation.


Thursday, 16 December 2010

Moving on

Margot died this evening. I spent the afternoon with her reading the latest cards from the family and listing the people who were thinking of her. I told her not to worry. When I arrived home the hospital called with the news. She wanted to be buried here in our village so tomorrow I will be arranging that.

Love to all our friends,   Nick

Move to home not working

Moving Margot back home is not going to happen at this moment. Our GP is on holiday and she makes up an important part of the home medical team. Even before that the doctors were concerned about providing adequate support. Since the first two days of upheaval Margot has become much more at peace in the hospital / hospice and she took the news calmly however she is not reacting to anything much at this time.

Each day we get less and less reaction from her which I guess is the way it goes. A few days ago she stopped speaking French although she still appears to understand the nurses. Today she hardly said a word. Most of my interaction with her has been by holding hands and touch with naps in between. I keep wondering what else I could be saying or doing.

I have received many e-mails from friends from Margot's various on-line communities offering prayers and messages of support. I am not sure how many of these messages are registering with her but they all mean a great deal to me. Thank you.


Friday, 10 December 2010

On the move

Margot's uncle made a visit from the States last weekend which was a wonderful thing to do. He is her closest remaining relative and his visit made a big difference for both of us although Margot still managed to sleep through a good part of his time here.

On Tuesday Margot got to move to the hospital in Vaison which is the nearest thing to a hospice that I have seen. She had a very nice room with a view over the old town and a good level of doctors, nursing staff and helpers. Unfortunately the move, the change in conditions, or something made her very agitated and for two days she was not at all calm. Even though I was with her most of the time all she wanted to do was leave and come home. She is much more tranquil today but still wants to be at home. We have been talking with the hospital-at-home people and local nurses and if she remains stable we might be able to have her at home again next week with the option of returning to the hospice if it does not work out.

Again, thank you all for your messages which I try and pass on but Margot is not always tracking 100 percent.    Nick

Friday, 3 December 2010

Visiting in the snow

25cm of snow did not make it any easier for my daily visits to Margot at Valence hospital but I made it.

Not much change in Margot's condition. They are still trying to find the right mixture of drugs to make her comfortable. We have made an application to transfer her to an ward specializing in  palliative care at Vaison but we have to wait for a place as it is only a small unit. Hopefully it would be better for her and nearer for me.

Best to all,   Nick

Monday, 29 November 2010

Update for the week

Last Sunday and Monday nights were uncomfortable for Margot and first thing Tuesday morning she was very ill and taken to a nearby hospital. The edema was the principle problem and she also had some water in her lungs. On Wednesday, after getting her stable, Margot was move to the hospital at Valence which is the center for her treatment. Treatment for the edema continues and she has oxygen and drugs to try and make her more comfortable. As you can imagine, she is extremely weak.

Visiting most days occupies much of my time and I am her preferred masseur for her back and feet.

Best wishes to all from both of us.


Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Still secure with Nala on guard

After a bad weekend with the medicines making Margot hyper without making her feel any better she has had a couple of stable days. My brother and sister-in-law have also made a quick visit from Spain which was a very nice interlude.

Now Margot has just gone off to the hospital for the afternoon to have a blood transfusion to help correct her anemia. Nala, of course, is still doing a grand job of sleeping on the threshold so that no ambulance people can go in or out uninterrupted.


Thursday, 11 November 2010

Bad Night

Margot had a bad night last night and was sick a number of times. It could have been a new medicine she started taking so she was taken off that again to see if things stabilize. So far she has slept all day so that might have been the problem. Other than that, not much change. She is still getting all her food by infusion, lots of proteins, vitamins, everything, but continues to have no strength or energy.

We had sun today for the first time in three days which cheered me and the dogs a little.


Friday, 5 November 2010

Crazy dog

Margot was home last night but even more weak after the operation and the traveling. During the night Van-Ly decided, for the first time ever, to clime onto the bed and sleep with us. You know chows don't do this. Bad news is that she climbed over Margot. Good news is that she did no damage other than to wake us up.


Wednesday, 3 November 2010

New chamber

The operation was postponed yesterday but today Margot had the new chamber and catheter fitted. They are already using it for the hydration infusion. She should be home again tomorrow. More news then.


Thursday, 28 October 2010

No chemotherapy this week

The chemotherapy was canceled this week because Margot just had no energy. We also tried to get the operation for the new catheter moved forward but that did not work out. She is still scheduled for the new chamber and catheter next Tuesday. Eating is still difficult as Margot just has no appetite. She thinks she might have a taste for duck this evening so I will try that. Not a lot of change otherwise.

The dogs have a new walking schedule these days; morning and evening during the hour when the nurse is visiting. This gets us out of the way, especially Nala who insists on sleeping in the doorway to Margot's room as the nurse is trying to go in and out, and there is someone there to keep an eye on Margot while we are out of the house.

Thanks again for everyone's support.


Thursday, 21 October 2010

Wrong date

I my last post I made a mistake with the date. Margot had the infected chamber and catheter removed yesterday. It was a small local operation, all went well, and she was back at home again last night. Her next trip to the hospital is next Tuesday for more chemotherapy.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

We've been getting phone calls

We've been getting phone calls because there has been no blog entries this week. Margot has not had the energy and I have not been paying attention is the short answer.

Margot was in hospital last Monday and Tuesday for more chemo. and apart from that her treatment schedule has developed a regular pattern; visits by the nurse early morning, midday, and evening. She is still on the glucose drip full time with other medicines added at various intervals. The infected chamber in her chest is due to be removed on the 22nd and replaced with a new one on the 2nd November.

According to the doctor, Margot's fatigue is due the cancer, the chemo, the infection, and the difficulty in eating enough. This all makes sense to me. I just hope we can get one or more of these conditions corrected in the near future.

Thanks for all your messages and support, love,  Nick and Margot

Friday, 8 October 2010

I'm all right, Jack!

From Hôpital à Domicile

That's Stephanie.  She's pretty underneath.

And, for everyone who asked, no, I'm still not eating.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Best I can do

Home!  Pins & Needes ( Ants in Frech) in fingers.  Write later.
Bob, sorry about cat.
John, I win.  No contest.   :-)~

Saturday, 2 October 2010

I was hoping

I was holding off from writing because I was hoping that Margot would be making the posting this weekend but then her return was delayed again at the last minute. Her chemo. was moved from Friday to Monday. Now they say Tuesday for coming home. Fingers crossed.

After four weeks in hospital and not eating much she is very weak. I was pushing her around the hospital grounds in a wheel chair yesterday. I am just hoping that if she can keep increasing the amount of food she is eating and get out and about a bit she will get some strength back. She is really looking forward to being at home and getting her computer back.


Sunday, 26 September 2010

No big change

They are still treating Margot for the infection and so she can't get a lot of food intravenously. She is eating a little more but they are only increasing the quantity slowly and the food is all soft. Just this minute had a phone call from Margot saying she had fish for lunch - that sounds better. We are back to hoping she will be more stable now and can come home next week. The dogs are waiting.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Still no date for homecoming

A representative from the home hospital center and the local nurse are visiting tomorrow to see what has to be done to allow Margot to be treated at home. One day soon she might blog in person. An added complication to Margot's treatment is that she now has an infection around the chamber where the infusion is connected so intravenous feeding has been interrupted.

More news soon, Nick

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Friday optimistic

Looks like Friday was optimistic but hopefully Margot will be back early next week. It takes a while to organize the medical staff and the equipment she will need at home. I was with her today and she was more happy now that we have a schedule for coming home and in addition she is eating a little better.

Thanks for all your supportive messages.


Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Maybe home on Friday

Margot is feeling slightly better but still having treatment and maybe coming  home on Friday after chemotherapy. She will need regular visits from a nurse or maybe home hospital treatment with a full time nurse.  I will try and give another update soon.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Getting better

Hi all, sorry for the slow update but today was the first day of real improvement for Margot and she is feeling a lot better. Now that her intestines have started to work a little she was allowed a small bowl of broth which was her first food by mouth in seven days. She is staying in under observation for the weekend and then we will see what's next.


p.s. Nala was also in 'hospital' for a day with the vet. She got a spike of grass embedded in her neck and she had to have a small operation to remove it. She, also, is feeling better.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Off-line again

Nick here reporting again.

Margot is back in hospital with an obstructed colon. She became very sick Thursday night / Friday. At the moment they are taking X-rays to work out the best treatment while infusing her with some product that might help clear it. More news when I know more.


Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Back Ache

The backache that appeared by magic a couple of weeks ago disappeared by magic the day after I went to the doctor.  Yesterday it returned, so I'm going to the kinestherapist tonight.

And Nala is going to the vet for an abscess on her neck.

And I'm stopping by the doctor to get the prescription for iron.

So far, I'm impressed with my new doctor.  When the blood results arrived last week, she called me.

Nick and the rest of the animals are O.K.

Monday, 30 August 2010

A Little Clarification & Other Matters

It's hard to stay chipper when you're just so damned tired!  Some days I think I need more antidepressants, but then I remember it's just fatigue.  It better be something I'll get over because I am leading a really useless life just now.

But I'm cheap to keep.  I've lost 13 kilos (28.5 pounds; 2 stone) since my operation.  Just not hungry.  Losing 13 is O.K. because that's what I'd gained, but it's time to call a halt.

Anyway, on a cheerier note, sort of, I have recalled that I've had spots before -- on my lung.  Sometimes they're there and sometimes they're not.  Or sometimes the oncologist mentions them and sometimes he doesn't.  When he does, he tells me they're "nothing."  So I guess the liver spots are the same.

And here are a few pictures I've been meaning to post.

Lance Armstrong's 1999 Yellow Jersey from the Tour de France, donated to Centre Léon Bérard, the hospital I go to.

The T-shirt says, "Behind every successful woman there is frequently a rather talented cat."

The 13 kilos disappeared between this picture and the next.

Wave bye-bye to what hair we had time to grow.

The T-shirt says "Thousands of years ago, cats were worshipped as gods.  Cats have never forgotten this."

Friday, 27 August 2010

Scan and Checkup

I'm better.  I managed to stay up for a whole day Wednesday, though much of it was spent in the car or waiting around on chairs.  And another day yesterday until 4 PM when we got home from Lyon.

The tumour is still good, but has grown slightly.  And I have spots in my liver.  This is not liver cancer, explains the doctor.  This is ovarian cancer in the liver.  Very subtle; too subtle for me.  Nick says that the liver cells are fine, but the liver is being invaded.

Anyway, not to worry now, but to keep an eye on and control. So, back to chemo.  Starting September 9, every two weeks.


Tuesday, 24 August 2010

AAFCO Admits Rendered Pets in Pet Food

My pets have been on a diet of raw meat and bones for five years.  Human grade.  From the supermarket.  Like us.  Everyone I know thinks I'm a nut, but I have friends on Yahoo Groups.

The animals are healthy and FloJo's teeth, which were disgusting and had to be cleaned under anaesthetic five years ago, have been sparkling clean since we switched.  Unless you are buying top premium pet food from small manufacturers (getting harder and harder; Purina keeps buying them up), and you really know how to read labels, your pets could be eating anything, including your previous pet.  And, at last, it's been caught on camera.  Not gory, just an interview with those folks in charge of pet food standards.

Baby Miosa's first chicken wing

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Quick Visit

In and out of hospital for three days.  With my usual habit of telling myself "jack" stories, I'd managed to convince myself that my back was O.K., but my kidneys were going.  Probably the catheter was killing me.

I pissed off the doctors and nurses by refusing all pain meds except paracetamol, but I'm not cut out to be a morphine addict.   It takes weeks to get rid of the mouth and throat dryness and the after taste of withdrawal. 

Scans and x-rays showed nothing wrong with my kidneys, so I guess it is my back, again. Monday evening I'm interviewing a new GP; I'll ask for physio.

I'm still too tired to do anything except get dressed, but yesterday we had the yearly lunch with our neighbours where we used to live in Rémuzat.  Six hours at the lunch table and we were the second people -- only -- to leave.  I ate more than I've eaten for 3 weeks and promptly threw most of it up.  It had tasted good going down, though.

In fact, the food was so magnificent (cooked by a Belgian neighbour and his wife) that we are sworn to not discuss the meal -- to avoid a real estate rush, everyone wanting to live in La Combe and pushing property prices up.  (Yes sirree, the wine was flowing.)  This would  be good news only to the people who bought our house and  are now selling to return to the bright lights of Brussels.

A couple of friends who were there were supposed to visit today, but are suffering the aftermath.  Evidently the "lunch" didn't break up until 10:30.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

It's been so long since I've written. . .

. . . that you're all going to stop writing me.

I may not have a back problem.  I think I have a kidney problem.  Blood in urine.  Feels like infection, but no infection.  I think the catheter is causing problems and the medicines are making me sick.  Stopped the meds and hurt more this morning, so I had to go back to the morphine.  Going to the doctor.

Have you noticed that the doctors seem to mess me up as often as they do me some good?

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Bad back

Not been bloging the last few days because I have been laid-up in bed with a bad back. Future blog posts are accumulating in my head at the moment.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Tour de California & Tour de France

On the last day of the Tour de France, it is fitting that I found the list of those whose names are on the Radio Shack bikes.  (It appeared while I was in the hospital.)

27 cancer survivors, carers and relatives made it.  At No. 37, my friends, family, supporters and strangers got Nick and me awfully close.

Thanks you.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Puppy -- and Dog -- Blues

A few weeks ago we met some people who have bought a house in the village where we used to live.  It came up in conversation that his cousin in Marseille has two Chows.  He was going to check to see if they are registered.

Today we finally caught up with them, but the cousin doesn't have the dogs any longer.  They moved from a house to an apartment and "had to" give them up.  Sigh.  Chows are perfect apartment dogs.  A walk once or twice a day is sufficient and they don't care if they get any exercise or not.  They don't roughhouse, they don't chew and they don't bark.  Mostly they lay around like area rugs.

Also, the cousin says, one of them was mean.  Probably, I wanted to say, because they were left outside with the minimum of human interaction and training.  Not that I jump to conclusions or anything, but we've talking about people who seemed to find their dogs an inconvenience.

Watch out, I'm going to yell.  A DOG IS FOR LIFE!  They love you.  They will do anything for your love, no matter how badly you treat them.  Can you say the same for your kids?

You don't give your kids away and you don't give your dogs away.  If you're the type who can contemplate giving your dog away, DON'T GET ONE.

On the other hand, if you want to get one and are prepared to be responsible about it, please get some decent advice about their needs and care.  I'll be happy to help.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Puppy Blues

You may remember we were planning a wedding: Van-Ly and Asterix.  Things are not going well.

Why are those of the dog fancy such, well, bitches is the word that comes to mind?  We sent Van-Ly's hip x-rays off to the Chow Chow Club of France before I went to the hospital.  As yet, we have heard nothing, so yesterday I telephoned the president of the CCF.

"Well, why did you leave it so long?" she asked?  I explained that Chows are not thick on the ground in our neighbourhood and I'd acted as soon as I found one.  I didn't think it would take so long.  I mean how many damned Chows can there be being x-rayed at one time in France?  "But it takes at least a month and longer in summer," she said.

Summer.  Otherwise known as The National Excuse for Not Working.

We haven't started the procedure for Asterix's x-rays because I didn't want to spend the money if Van-Ly's didn't turn out well.  And Van-Ly should be going into heat mid-August.

Which basically means we've run out of time and I've wasted money.  "Money is not my concern," says Madame le President, "dogs are."


Saturday, 17 July 2010

Surgical skirmishes

Picture this.  No don't.  Just follow along; it will be graphic enough.

The evening I checked into the hospital, they gave me a third purge.  This is when you drink a perfectly abominable salt-tasting concoction -- 2 litres of it -- and then sit on the toilet until "everything runs clear."

So, there I am -- sitting -- when someone comes into the room, calls out and I call back.  And the bathroom door opens.  (Why do they have doors on hospital bathrooms?  Anyone?)

It's my surgeon and he'd like to know if I can take a 90-second break, so that he can mark me up for surgery.  Teeth clenched, I say, "No."  He thinks for a moment and then kneels in front of me, pauses to read my T-shirt -- "Behind every successful woman, there is usually a rather talented cat" -- nods, lifts the shirt and begins to draw with black marker.  "Will this stay on through my three showers?", I ask, cool-like.  "No problem," he says, rises and leaves.


When he came around on the day after surgery, I asked, "Did you say you got the tumour, the ovaries, and the uterus and I don't have a pouch"?  "Yes," he said.  "That's what I thought you said,", I said, but I didn't believe it."  "Neither did I, he said."

Better a great underconfident surgeon than a mediocre overconfident one, I say.

To my great disappointment, he didn't take out my appendix.  "It is normal procedure," he explained, "but only when things are optimal" -- which answered a dozen other questions.  Optimal is when they get it all and can clean up.  Sub-optimal" or Incomplete is when there remains 2 cm of tumour.  I got this out of the booklet from the hospital cancer library.

Not that I'm disappointed at being sub-optimal.  It beats dead and leaves a lot of room for improvement.  And no doubt 5 1/2 hours in the operating room was enough.  The booklet says 6 hours is the limit.  I'd have liked to have lost the appendix, though.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Take this Quiz

You have dogs.  The number doesn't matter.  You have been away from home for almost 3 weeks.  You burst into the prepared kitchen where your SO has thoughtfully placed a mat on the floor and you flop down waiting for fuzzy faces and sloppy kisses.  (Except from the SO who has already done his part.)

What happens next?

  1. Your dogs leap all over you and smother you with kisses.
  2. Don't know; never been away from home that long.
  3. You are Margot.
Nala came, but I think it was the mat that interested her. When I took it over, she left.  As she is wont to do,

Van-Ly cocked her head, squinted and wagged her tale.  I scratched her for awhile, but she must not have liked the feeling of handfuls of fur coming out with each stroke.  (Hey, it wasn't I who didn't brush her.)  So she left, too.  I'm  of the opinion that she'd have wandered over to anyone.

Remind me, someone, that I like Chows because:

  • They are house broken from stock;
  • They don't chew your socks;
  • They don't chew the furniture;
  • They don't eat a lot;
  • They don't shed as much as you might think;
  • They don't bark unless on door-bell duty;
  • They're independent and don't need amusement;
  • You used to like cats;
  • They're the cutest little things on earth;
  • They're loyal.
On that last point, how can you tell?

Returns and Replies

I'm home!  And this is all for today.  Tomorrow there will be all the news that I'm capable of.

*  *  *

CHERYL - No computers in hospitals here.  We've only recently been able to use our own cell phones.

JOHN & CAROLE - You lose John, but if makes you feel any better, you didn't lose to me.  The room mate had 42 staples.

GEORGIA - Bananas were the first thing I thought of.  But, also: does downing litres of water per day wash the potassium out of your system?

SUSAN IN CALIF - You've got your priorities right! No cake.  :-(  The nurses felt kind of bad when they hadn't noticed my birthday.  (I have pages and pages of bar code labels over my files, my wrists, all my medications, my charts, e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g,  Each contains my name, place of birth and birthday  Every time they touch me, they have to verify who I am.  Stuff just doesn't stick does it?)  They thought they should have had at least a flower.  Since they didn't, we shared my little wooden and woolen cats.  I'd already had the best birthday present it was possible to have.

EVERYBODY - who wrote called and commented.  Thank you.  You might have to be there to realise how important the support is and I don't wish that on you.  Just use your imaginations.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Home next week?

I saw Margot again yesterday and she was disconnected from all the drips and infusions and ready to talk a short walk around the hospital. She is still having to take quite a few pills for pain and tires easily but I hope this means she will be coming home sometime next week.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

X-ray revealed nothing amiss

The only news today was that the X-ray showed that nothing looked wrong so it is just a mater of time before Margot becomes more comfortable.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Not eating and more

I had another visit with Margot today and I was able to get all the latest. Margot is still bloated and constipated and hence was not allowed to eat today so they can give her a scan tomorrow to check what is going on. We also got to talk with the surgeon who explained that the main tumour is gone but he saw a lot of metastasis around the pelvic cavity and so she will still need chemotherapy but hopefully will be much more comfortable.

As a distraction, Margot helped rescue her room mate last night. As her companion became sicker and sicker Margot repeatedly called the nurse and eventually the 'crash' team arrived as the poor woman went into a coma. Fortunately, after a night in intensive care, they found that the woman had an overly high levels of potassium and now they have her stable again.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Birthday party

I arrived just before lunch today and thanks to Margot's room mate, who did not feel up to eating her lunch, we both ate a birthday meal together. Then we passed a pleasant time opening many cards, messages and presents. Most of the presents were books so she is well set for her convalescence. Many thanks to everyone for these.

Margot has had half of her 38 staples removed and is having regular physiotherapy and massage and has to sit up in a chair for a few hours each day. All this activity does not help the pain but is a necessary torture it appears.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

The patient is happy

Just got back from an afternoon visit to Margot. She is very happy that the tumour is gone and her treatment this time is the best so far. She is still in intensive care and hooked up to drips etc. but they seem to have the pain well under control and she is fairly comfortable. Her blood pressure is a little low and she has itchy skin but they say both these conditions are produced by the pain killer and they are gradually changing it over to another type.

Thanks for all your good messages. I will pass them all on on my next visit.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

The tumour is out!

It looks like the operation has gone very well and they have removed the tumour without touching too much else. I have not been able to talk to Margot as she is still out of it after leaving the operating theatre at 13:30. However, I talked to the surgeon and he was happy with how it went and very pleased that he did not have to fit the Hartmann sack.

Margot will be in intensive care for a few days and I hope to talk to her tomorrow morning and visit tomorrow afternoon. So more news then. I think I will be having a couple of glasses of wine this evening :)

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Time Out

I'm off to hospital tomorrow, Monday. If things go well, I'll probably be there a couple of weeks.  I'm taking the ambulancel taxi to save Nick the trip.  His taking me involves a drive of 2 and a half hours and then being thrown out of the room immediately I check in.  Not useful.

Nick is going to post on the blog  to give updates.  If you have any comments, could you direct them to the blog, please?  It will be much easier for him than trying to go through my email.

On the dog front, Van-Ly has had her X-rays and they've been sent off to Paris to be processed, for some reason.  When they come back next week, they'll go to the CCF  (ChowChow Club de France) vet.  At first glance, her hips don't look perfect, but not bad.  We'll just have to wait.

See you soon.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Family Affairs

I would be writing more, but I'm not feeling very well.  Don't know what it is, but I suspect the pain killers given to me after the stent was put in, so I've stopped taking them.  They -- or something -- also are making me sleepy, so that's what I'm doing: sleeping.  And dreaming of puppies.

We have found a perfect five-year-old male Chow.  Or he will be perfect as soon as he's registered and X-rayed for hip dysplasia. Just look at those study, little legs!

We had a family meeting the other day.  Asterix -- that's the bridegroom's name -- does seem to prefer Nala, even if she did keep growling at him, but we'll leave her home next time.  Van-Ly will be X-rayed on Friday and the pictures sent off to the official doctor of the Chow Chow Club for grading.

We are hoping for a September/October wedding

Friday, 18 June 2010

Tour de California

I've been waiting to post about this until I received more information from the Lance Armstrong Foundation, but I guess they're not going to be forthcoming, so. . .

I thank you sincerely, everyone who cheered me on in this virtual bicycle race.  Nick and I came in at a respectable 37th place.  I did think this might get our names on a sticker on one of the Radio Shack bikes in the Tour de France, but, if so, no one has told me.

Still it was a lot of fun and so very gratifying to see everyone trying to help us win.

Next time I think I'll do a real-world something.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Today's Laugh: We Linux Pirates

There are numerous internet services that are not available to Linux users.  The rationale seems to be that, because we like free software, we are prone to stealing whatever comes our way.  (O.K., I stole the cartoon.)  At least that's what the BBC told me.

Tonight I was searching for books by Fareed Zakara available as audiobooks.  Google brought up several torrent sites where I could download the books for free.  Except that you need Windows to run the torrents.

Bill Gates wins, again.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010


Yesterday I saw:

  • the anaesthesiologist (isn't there a short form for this?)
  • the surgeon
  • had a cardiogram
  • a chest x-ray (so they can locate exactly where my little plastic box is)
  • a blood test

After the blood test, the technician came running to the elevator to return my bag just in time to see my arm start dripping blood in the lobby.  Can't take me anywhere.  She fixed it.

When I suggested that the anaesthesiologist (isn't there a short form for this?) not touch my stomach, she immediately gave me a prescription for painkillers and sent us to the hospital pharmacy where they gave me a couple to get started.  I am feeling better.

She was also appalled at the state of my feet and ankles, but she couldn't do anything about them.

The operation has been pushed back to 29 June.  As I'm not paying for any of this, I can't accuse of the surgeon of taking a longer vacation in his second home.

Assuming that he can do anything at all, once in, he will remove the tumour or, at least, reduce it.  If the tumour is attached to the colon, there are two options.  If the colon is undamaged, he will sew it back together again.  If it is damaged or otherwise unhealthy, he will do something called a Hartmann's Procedure and I will have a little sack.  He thinks there is an 80% chance that I will leave the hospital with a sack.  At least I will be leaving the hospital.

The anaesthesiologist said I will have an epidural to counteract the after-surgery pain.  I will be in intensive care for five days and then move to a regular room for the rest of my stay while I am educated about my new appendage.  Whoo, sounds major!  I asked if the hospital makes good birthday cake.  At least I will be leaving the hospital.

Speaking of food, three days of not eating produced a weight loss of maybe 2 kilos (4-5 pounds).  Not much, but down is better than up.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Interim Report

Good news: the double J stents went in this time.  They should relieve pressure on my kidneys and bladder from the tumour and protect the ureter during the next surgery.

On the other hand, I feel like I have a bladder infection -- and I do; I have a world-class case of gas; and incontinence-are-us.

I wasn't going to write that last bit, but I remembered I meant to be honest about all this.

Tomorrow more consultations in Lyon.  I'll write in a couple of days when I'm bound to feel better.

Friday, 28 May 2010


You'll remember that we have a new flat screen 100cm (40in.) television.  We had to order a demodulator for satellite reception from England and it arrived yesterday.

As I write, I am watching a 2005 production of The Marriage of Figaro from the Royal Opera House on the BBC.  It's not like being there, but it is like watching the external broadcast in the plaza at Covent Garden.

Sigh.  So good.  I just had to write this.

This is why I don't argue with Nick about having a television.

Faits Divers

A while back, France introduced new license/registration/number plates which come into force when you buy a new or used car.  The plate design no longer carried departement numbers and there was a huge outcry from the public.  So the government gave in and said that a panel on the right side of the plate would have the number.  Any number; the number of your choice.  If it would make you feel better to have people think you live on the Côte d'Azur, then you just go ahead and buy 06 number plates, never mind you live in Alsace on the German border.

I have seen the urologist, anaesthesiologist and the dentist this week.  The anaesthesiologist looks too young to be a doctor.  This is a first for me.  With his youth and stubble, he looks as though he ought to be out on his motorcycle mugging old ladies.  But he was nice enough to order thyroid tests, so I won't have to go see my endocrinologist.

Teeth are O.K. and cleaner.

Van-Ly has just had a false pregnancy.  (And good thing false, too!)  I'm told that, in the wild, when a bitch in the pack is pregnant, the others have false pregnancies and produce milk so that if anything happens to the mother, the babies will survive.  How clever.

My little bitches, less clever, have no one to get pregnant for, although it did solve one problem.  We bought Nala a bed last week so that she would stop leaning against the wall and turning it black.

Of course, she hates it and won't go near it, but Van-Ly was in her nesting phase, so she used it.

Now, neither of them will use it, but it's still serving its purpose.  It's blocking the wall.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Everything scheduled

May 25:    Consultation with urologist and anaesthetist.
June 1:     Hospital - stents into kidneys
June 7:     Consultation with surgeon and anaesthetist.
June 22:   Surgery

Now if I could just get an eye appointment.  I have one, but I doubt I'll be up for it on June 24.  I'll throw myself on the secretary's mercy and see if she'll fit me in.  I'm not optimistic.

Then I'll throw myself on the mercy of the dentist.  I have more hope there; she's really nice.  You can't get your teeth worked on while you're having chemo because you don't heal.

However, even if the optomotrist doesn't work out, I can now watch television.  We bought a flat-screen 102cm (40 in) screen.  It's a whole new experience after watching our portable for the last couple of years.  I can see!  I can read the subtitles!  I don't need the subtitles!  I can hear!  (Better sound).

Lance Armstrong's foundation, LiveStrong, does fabulous work for cancer: lobbying, supporting patients and carers and providing information.  I entered their virtual Tour de California.  If I get placed high enough, Lance or one of his team will ride the Tour de France with my sticker on his bike.  I am a big fan of his -- as a rider and as a fighter against cancer.

You can push me up in the ratings by cheering for me.  You can cheer every day.  Please do -- and tell your friends and FB friends, too.  Thank you.  Link.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Meet the surgeon

Yesterday I met with the surgeon, the nice man who recommended Douglas Kennedy's books to me.  That worked out well.  I recommend them to you.

He says he's not going to know what he can do or how much he must do until he goes in and looks.  The tumor is very big and and he thinks he can't get it all.  The good news (I'm not sure why) is that it moves, which makes it a better bet for surgery.

Next I have a consultation with the urologist, then a day in hospital for him to go in with camera and double-J stents  Then I have another consult with Dr. Meeus, the surgeon, to make sure I understand what's going to happen and decide how many things I'm willing for him to take out. Even though he may or may not take things out depending on how they look.

That's three more visits to Lyon.  Dr. Meeus's secretary said she'd at least try to schedule the anaesthesiology consult the same day as the surgery consult.  Surgery is scheduled for June 22.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

My friends on Raw-Lite would understand

I hope Nevada Barr won't mind if I quote from Deep South, her ninth novel about the National Park Service ranger, Anna Pigeon.

As background to this excerpt, Anna's black Labrador is recovering from surgery, having had his leg amputated after an encounter with an alligator.

. . . she found a paper sack on the top of her patrol vehicle.  Inside were the dismembered parts of some small animal, probably a squirrel.  Grim and chilling images of The Godfather and waking up with the severed head of a horse on one's bed were stirring her hackles to the vertical when she discovered the note.  "Went squirrel hunting.  Nothing like good red meat for a sick dog.  Frank.

     On her way out, Anna thanked the maintenance man for the thoughtful gift, then surreptitiously dumped it in the garbage can in the tiny visitors center, careful to bury it beneath a layer of other refuse so Frank wouldn't inadvertently see it and get his feelings hurt when he collected the trash.

My reaction?  "Awwwww.  What a waste!  And Taco didn't get his treat."

We raw feeders are, maybe, a bit peculiar, but we think those of you feeding your pets dried up little pellets of chemicals and slaughter-house waste are the odd ones.

(Hey, do I often preach?)

Monday, 3 May 2010

Cat Got Your . . . what?

I may have to change the name of my blog to Ordinary Dog-Owner.  I can't even come close to this:

German man 'marries' his dying cat

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Checking In

Where have I been?  Sleeping, getting the car CD fixed, buying a sofa, sleeping, "gardening."

Our cassette player with the attached CD changer died and Nick went to get a new one.  Wherever he was, they don't do cassette players any more.  This annoys me more than I can say as the books we usually listen to in the car are on cassette which I obtain from BookMooch.  Now we're trying to get a portable cassette player with good enough sound to hook up to the CD player.

It's amazing how much furniture is sold these days that comes in your choice of one colour, maybe two.  Even expensive furniture, of the sort that we can't afford, anyway.  What ever happened to "I like that one and I'll have it in this colour"?  So when we stumbled into a furniture shop the other day with sofas that came in the pale lavender matching the chair we bought, we bought one.  Lavender cushions with taupe base and arms.  With all the pictures I take, I forgot to take a picture of it, but it's soft, comfortable, and Italian.  One day we will have a place to put it.

This is the Stokke Gravity Chair.  Ours has a dark wood frame with pale lavender upholstery:

We now have temporary cement pavement (sidewalks) in front of the house.  I hear that we will have new, pretty pavements in the autumn when the village has more money.  Yesterday we put all the plants back in front of the house.  I must be feeling better.

Isn't it amazing how you can get a whole blog out of nothing?  For something, I suggest you read Debunking the Myth of French Rudeness.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

The Full Monty - Public Premiere

Halfway to the hospital today I realised I'd forgotten my hat.  Nick hadn't noticed, either.  So we went to the hospital, the DIY place, grocery shopping, lunch and the car repair place with my head showing.  I didn't see people falling over, so I know what my new look will be in case my hair never comes in nicely.

Monday I had a consultation with the oncologist in Lyon.  Good news: The spots on my lung mean nothing; The spots on my liver mean nothing.  Other news: No more chemo; it isn't working and it's creating severe onychopathy, i.e. my nails are rotting.  (Actually, they're improving now, starting to grow.)  Also I have lots of oedema: fat legs, fat feet and a golf balls on my ankles.

My case was presented to the committee to decide whether the tumour is operable or maybe I should have radiation treatment.

My sub-oncologist at Valence passed the news that I am to have a cystocopy (they look inside) and the J-catheters (stents) in my urethra that they couldn't insert last autumn.  They protect the urethra, which is thin and fragile, during the surgery that may follow, depending on how good the surgeon feels about it.

So now I'm waiting to hear from the hospital in Lyon, but it probably won't be immediate.  They usually wait 30 days between chemo and surgery.

I have leftovers from the vacation; they'll come next.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Day 7 - Message from Home

ce à quoi vous avez échappé

  (What you escaped)


They're going to let us know when it's safe to return.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Day 6 - Finestrat

Happy 50th Wedding Anniversary to our friends, Sheila and Bob.  Happy 28th to us.  48 people in restaurant closed for the occasion, courtesy of S and B.  Magnificent food.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Day 5 – Finestrat & Benidorm

Blue skies, nothin' but blue skies. . . Not very warm, though, but you wouldn't know it by the crowds on the beaches. And they're swimming.

You'll note I'm running a day behind. The logistics of internet access. We started the day in an English bar advertising free internet access. The owner gave us the code, but didn't know which server they were on. “It's my husband,” she said. Seven servers showed up on our laptop. The password didn't gain us entry to any of them. “It's my husband,” she said. We paid for our coffees and left. We have since been informed that the place is known as the “blinding and f'ing” bar.

We went wandering around Benidorm. I bought a pair of party shoes for tomorrow night – six euros. I figure since my feet are letting down the side, anyway, I might as well be totally tacky. Anything is better than sandels with socks.

We had an excellent lunch on the paseo, watching the Germans swim and a middle aged Spanish Barbie and Ken at a nearby table. Even my sneakers aren't that tacky.

We returned to the house for a long siesta and skipped dinner. Well, not me, I ate the lunch Nick had made for me the previous day. No amount of food ever makes me want to skip a meal.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Day 4 – Spain, Finestrat

In the end, we had Chinese food last night. It was what was still open and it was excellent. Just as we placed our large order, I reached Bob; they had just walked into their house. Good friends are those who've just done a 10-hour drive from Santander and wait up while you eat and drink. They thought we were arriving today. My fault. Never trust what I say any more.

We got to sleep at 3:00 a.m. Today, I slept until 11:30. Had a cup of tea, showered and dressed and, not yet ready for lunch, returned to bed for a siesta.

At 4:30 I awoke to the sound of voices: John, Nick's brother, and Carole, John's wife, had arrived. Another cup of tea and we went around to Bob & Sheila's apartment. And another cup of tea.

Spanish dog, not into tea

A few years ago, Bob & Sheila rented an apartment for friends who were supposed to visit and who didn't. It requires good will and good connections to rent an apartment for vacationing (ex-)friends and Sheila and Bob didn't feel able to tell the owners that they no longer needed it. So they moved in, thinking to see if, one day, they might like apartment life for themselves. They liked it so much, they stayed. Meanwhile, the house market being what it is, they've held on to the house for guests. Lucky us.

The house

Swordfish tonight in Benidorm. Nom nom!

Sheila waiting for us near the car

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Spain - Day 3 Travelling

Got up late, ate lunch late, haven't eaten dinner, yet.  It's a choice between swordfish or MacDonald's.  More on this later.

We went to Girona as a French family in the hotel told us it was a must.  (Yes, that's the word in French.)  First we got lost, then we found the Old Town, but there was no parking closer than marathon distance, so we gave it up and left.

The weather got crappier and crappier as we headed south, but we're listening to a good book on CD, the name of which I no longer remember.  But it's good.

At last we thought we were in with a chance.  The sun started peeking through as we neared Benidorm.  We exited the autoroute and climbed the hill to Finestrat, pulled up as near as we could to the house (it's a no parking zone), emptied half the car and opened the mailbox with a coin to retrieve the key.  No key.

We made acquaintance with all the neighbours who were assuring themselves that we were really amigos de Roberto and even new phone friends -- the husband of and the woman who now owns Sheila's mobile.  "Did you try calling them?" she asked.  "Yes, I did, but I got you."  I had to explain this several times before she caught on.  She was nice, tried the apartment where Bob & Sheila currently reside (no answer; I knew that) and gave us Sheila's new number.  The mobile is turned off.

We know they are supposed to be back tonight, so we keep calling.  As of now, we are having coffee and wifi at McDo.  Well, I am.  Nick is in the car park feeding the dogs.

If necessary, we will park in front of the apartment and sleep in our rather comfortable van.  I don't mind looking for a hotel, but I do mind looking for a hotel at 10 o'clock at night with two not-small dogs.

I guess we'll go for the swordfish.  We have a long night ahead of us.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Spain - Day 2, Figueres

Figueres isn't bad, whatever the comment I saw on some reservations site.  The part we're in could best be described as functional, but we're only a couple of minutes from the old and pretty centre with its old buildings and some Moorish architecture.

Not too far from Barcelona, either, so I'm waving, Carina.

It was not 20° and sunny as promised, but we left the dogs in their 3-star kennel with balcony and set off for the Dali Museum.  The outside is totally weird.  The inside is beautiful.  It is a reconstructed Moorish theatre in the round.  Describing the visit is beyond my vocabulary, so I won't even try.  Suffice it to say, we're here because I thought we ought to get some culture before we become complete rubes, but it turned out to be a detour well worth making.

I gave out at the jewel collection (flashy is not the word) and we came back to the hotel, collected the dogs and returned to the centre.  We had a late lunch and walked around looking at the closed shops.  (Siesta.)

Finally we went to the hypermarket and bought some grated cheese to sprinkle over last night's dinner for the dogs.  (They didn't eat it for breakfast, either.)  They ate and are now fast asleep.

We're now looking forward to dinner in the hotel, again, if for nothing else, for the service.

Spain - Day 1

It's a four and a half hour trip to Fuegeres, but with a stop in Avignon to leave a drill for repair, a lunch and pipi stop, and a coffee and pipi stop, we made it in six.

The Trave is a nice hotel, decorated with thought and very clean.  Good restaurant (bad lighting) with properly trained waiters!  Such a pleasure!  Hot rolls, too; I can't remember the last time I had those.  We had Menu No. 1: crudites and charcuterie, paella and melon (too early) for dessert.  Nice house wine.  We're still in the North, so most people speak French as well as Catalan and Spanish and some English.  We are  carrying our Spanish dictionary and do try.

Dogs won't eat, of course.  Little ingrates, after all the walks they got.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Faits Divers

Faits divers = This & that; In brief

Actually, the weather is perfectly lousy, but I live in hope.

I am not allergic to my cats. I am allergic to chemo: runny nose, leaking eyes. If only I had stock in Kleenex.

I've started up my book blog, again. (See sidebar) I missed it.

Blood tests have never bothered me; they're just a pin prick. About three weeks ago, I had one that hurt. I blamed the nurse. Then, the following weeks they hurt, too, and I've been bleeding more. This week I yelped. A year and half of constant pin pricks has taken its toll. However, the hospital staff tell me that the patch that I don't wear prior to chemo to deaden the pain (because it doesn't hurt) will work on my arms. We shall see when I have the scan.

* * *

O.K., I've had the scan. Patch worked like a charm; I didn't feel a thing. I am slowly learning to read the scanner reports, but even with a dictionary, I don't really have the education for this. Anyway, results as I interpret them:

Tumour on the ovaries is is pretty much unchanged.

The pulmonary (?) microtumours, which the reports seem to mention as the mood takes them and don't seem to worry the doctors (so I haven't mentioned them, either) are still, or again, there.

The small tumour on my liver, which no one has mentioned before, but I see reported for the first time last May, has shrunk.

I swear the last time the oncologist told me there was nothing but the tumour on the ovaries, so I have to ask, again. The radiologist said he thought I'd be going back for chemo, but I have an appointment with the oncologist in Lyon on April 19th. He will decide.

I also visited my GP last night to refill my regular prescription. She asked how I was walking and I said, "Badly." Evidently, this is also the Taxol. She said I should practice walking properly to stimulate the nerves in my feet. She thought walking in sand would be good. So I told her we were going to Spain. She thought it was a joke.

But it isn't! We leave on Monday and will be gone until the 16th when we'll return to repack and go to Lyon overnight on the 18th.

Our friends near Benidorm are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary today with a party in England. On the 10th they are having another "small" party in Spain. (They bought out the restaurant.) The 10th happens to be our 28th anniversary (everyone in England gets married in April for tax reasons), so we're going to the party.

Nick's brother and sister-in-law are joining us for a few days, too. And we intend to stop in Figueres for two nights and see the Dali museum on the way down. On the way back, we're going to spend a couple of nights in the nice little hotel in pretty little Sant Feliu de Gùixols just for the hell of it.

We are taking the dogs. The neighbours will put up with the cats.

Happy Holidays! Talk to you at the end of the month.

Saturday, 20 March 2010


Our village sewage system is being brought up to European standard.  New drainage, which has the added benefit of new pavements (sidewalks). Don't ask where the old drainage went, but note that France is full of rivers.

We've been pleased at the timing because we have to do the plumbing, anyway, with separate pipes for used water and rain water.  (Our neighbour says, "Poof!  I'm not doing that."  He will, though; they can check.) 

Yesterday the workers and the mayor stopped by and pointed out that the current kitchen is in the middle of the house, between the two new sets of plumbing and has its own outlet.  We can re-do it or pay a double water bill.  Whoops!

So Nick is busy digging up the living room floor (packed earth) and drilling through two 2-foot stone walls to connect the kitchen plumbing with the new bit.  I'm locked in the bedroom with the cats.

Today, when I came back into the bedroom after lunch, saying, "O.K. cats, let's go," Nala got up and followed me.  I know that Chows are cats and our friends know that Chows are cats, but I didn't know that Chows knew they are cats.

Here's how Polo and Nick got the rain water tank and the roll of pipe to the back of the house.  They rolled them up boards onto the trailer, drove the trailer up the hill to our neighbour's house in back of us and then rolled them down the hill, through the olive orchard, to the back of our property.  And didn't tell me, so I could get the camera.

In other news, my other big toenail came off yesterday.

Thursday, 18 March 2010


Chemo yesterday.  The doctor looked at my hands and feet and asked if they bleed occasionally.  Bleed?  They can get worse?  She lowered my Taxol dose by 25%.

The sun came out on Sunday -- and stayed.  The Mistral is not blowing.  It's not warm, but it's not frigid, either.  So today, leaving the hospital, instead of head retracted like a turtle against the cold and wind, I was walking tall, eyes forward.  And saw myself in a full-length glass building.

Omigod!  I'm going to have to stop whispering endearments  such as "Tubby Tum" and Pudjin (a Yiddishism for pudding) to the animals before they start whispering back.

When the doctor examined me, I asked her if the tumour felt smaller.  Yes, she thought so, "but," she said, it's a little hard to tell with all the weight I've put on.

I think maybe we should find a mirror and put it on the wall. In the meantime, I'll just go eat a doughnut and cheer myself up.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

The Dangers of Diagnosis by Internet

I don't have Hand-Foot Syndrome. What I have is Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy (CIPN). Which I also found on the internet. I guess a name which has to be reduced to initials is as chic as a syndrome.

I decided to join a cancer bulletin board, crossing my fingers that it wouldn't be too depressing. It ought to be, but it seems more educational. Your signature is supposed to include your first name, age, location and condition. Me, I just write "ovarian cancer," but some of these women have lists of conditions and complications. I would find that very discouraging.

One of the women who has suffered the same side effects as I sent me references to a bunch of medical studies. There have been trials of drugs, vitamins and even accupuncture to help with CIPN. Turns out there are some things that can lessen the severity, but only as prevention. Nothing seems to work once you are in full red/rash/peeling mode.

I noticed that heat or massage -- even just rubbing in creams -- makes my feet and hands go redder and itchier, like a histamine reaction. So I've gone back to my antihistimines for a couple of days. I don't want to rush into saying they help, but yesterday I couldn't walk and today I can.

Toes crossed.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Reading the Right Amount

I have decided to read less. Not less, really, but slower, so, inevitably, this does mean fewer books. The impetus for my first Resolution since 1978 (when I gave up self-improvement) is a . . . book: The Ode Less Travelled by Stephen Fry.

If you don't know Stephen Fry, first of all you aren't English, but second of all he's an actor, writer, director, poet, comedian and probably other stuff.

I thought his book would help me learn to like poetry, but it turns out to be a book on how to write poetry. That's all right; you usually like things better if you know the rules.

Fry starts by insisting the you read s-l-o-w-l-y. This is a formidable obstacle to poetry reading as far as I am concerned. I don't have time to read slowly. I don't read fast, but I read as fast as I can. There are so many books in the world and I'm having trouble getting to them all.

Reading all the books that one sees puts great pressure on a person, like counting the number of books read per year -- which, you will remember I've stopped doing. Well, you'll remember if you used to read my book blog.

But Fry has given me the idea that I'm doing it wrong. What's the point of reading if you're missing stuff because you're in a rush to get to the next book?

So, read less.

This will be harder than not counting. Part of counting included reviewing and that was work. I can always give up work.

I may keep you posted.

Friday, 5 March 2010


I knew there was something else.

While researching Hand-Foot Syndrome, there was a Google link to Avastin. Why, I don't know, but Avastin is the drug I get at the same time as the chemo.

So I clicked and came across a WSJ article, probably a press release, about Avastin's effect on ovarian cancer.

Nice one, Roche!

And: My treatment came to 24,000€ last year (is that all?), of which we paid 1,000€.

I Have a Syndrome

First, my energised period didn't last a whole long time. Maybe half a day. Which is just as well since my feet have reached the point where I don't want to walk unless it's a matter of life and death. Or the bathroom.

And to think that only a couple of days have elapsed since I took the dogs for a long walk. That's Palmar-Plantar Erythrodysesthesia (PPE) for you. More familiarly known as Hand-Foot Syndrome. It has affected my feet and ankles and the tops and sides of my hands (not the palms, as indicated by what I've read so far). Evidently, ice does not help prevent it when using Taxol.

Following Wednesday's treatment, my right heel hurt so much, I can barely walk. I guess that I won't be going against the treatment advice and jogging.

Thursday, 25 February 2010


I have noticed since the last couple of chemo sessions, that I feel fine the day afterwards. I do things, even, like translations or trying to design our new kitchen. This lasts for 2 or 3 days and then I start to go downhill. At least I have hope that one day I may actually do some chores around the house. And that they won't feel like chores.

Yesterday the nurse asked why I was wearing my moon boots. "They're the only shoes I can get into," I said. "And now my hands and face are affected, too." My face, so far, just has a few red blotches, but I anticipate the day when I won't be able to go anywhere without a veil.

She took one look at my hands and went to find the doctor. I now have two types of cortisone creams, one for my hands and feet and one for my face.

Whatever happened to white gloves now that I need them?

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Nick does stuff, too

He's been laying the floor in the workshop machine room and taking down the ceiling to make a sturdy floor for the living room above.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Good Day in Hospital - II

The things I forgot when writing last post.

Told the doctor my neighbour made me up some homoeopathic oil for my feet and hands.

"It won't hurt," he said. Then, "As long as it doesn't cost too much. I hate it when it costs a lot." I reassured him that it was a gift. He felt better.

I have the impression he believes it's harmless -- and ineffective. And so far it isn't doing anything, but we'll go through another three weeks of chemo and decide.

I'm still on shots to augment my white blood counts. Told the doctor I still have leftover EPO for my red blood counts. "Save it," he said. "Don't be selling it to any cyclists." Told him I was going to be a cyclist. "Not yet," he said.

He asked me if the doctor in charge of my program in Lyon explained things to me in French or English. "French," I replied. . . pause. . . "Does he speak English?" "He must," said my new doctor.

Live and learn. But I think the doctors prefer to speak French to make sure they don't screw anything up. If I screw up, nothing lost.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Good Day in Hospital

My doctor is on vacation, so I had to see another one today. He was lovely. (He is, actually.) First he said, "Everything seems to be working for you, doesn't it?" That was cheery.

Then he said, "You're 70, aren't you?" "In July," I said. "You don't look it," he said. See? Lovely. "I've got the good genes and the bad genes," I said. "That's how it goes," he said, or some French equivalent.

My big toenail on the left foot is almost off. Infectious nephritis. I'll recover when the chemo is finished. The good part is that my left food doesn't hurt so much now. Now if the right one would go.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

More Happy Dance

Went to the vet this morning and had another blood test. Nala's white blood count has fallen from just over 35 to just under 29. The amoxillin is working! Yea!

Back on Monday. Or Saturday if need be.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Half a Happy

As I mentioned in my previous post, Nala developped pyrometra. As I also said, if you know what that is, fine; if you don't, don't ask unless you have an unspayed bitch. In that case, it would be a good idea to look it up.

At any rate, the cure is to spay. So Nala was spayed and given a course of antibiotics: Cephalexlin, to be specific. When we got to the vet on Monday for her post-surgery check up, she had eaten very little, but had eaten some, so the vet sent us home, again.

Tuesday morning, she still hadn't eaten and the incision was seeping blood. We went back to the vet. Her white blood count was up from 34+ (double the normal limit) to 35+. We changed antibiotics, now she's on Amoxicillin.

Today, she ate breakfast! At first she didn't want it, but Nick took her out for a few minutes and when she came back, she ate.

As we were leaving for the hospital, I decided to walk her for another couple of minutes. When she heard her collar (chain), she woke up, came into the kitchen. . .
and danced! Afterwards she sulked because I would only let her walk about 25 meters and made her come home.

This evening, she wouldn't eat, again. So we just gave her her pills. Then she ate -- about a quarter of her meal. I guess she thinks eating means a dessert of pills and since she'd already had them, it was save to eat.

You know how people think Chows are stupid because you can't train them and they won't do anything you say? It has occurred to me that Chows must think people are pretty stupid because they can't train us to do things their way.

She seems reasonably lively. (Is it possible to sleep lively?)

As for me, great day at the hospital. Arrived a bit early for my 1:30 appointment and, for the first time ever, did not have to go to the waiting room, do not pass Go. Was given a room immediately. The nurses arrived 15 minutes later after their lunch break. I was alone, too. In fact, most of the rooms only had one patient or were empty. They must have recovered from the holiday disruption.

One of the nurses, I discovered, has 2 cats and a German Shepherd. She showed absolutely no interest when I said I fed raw. So I went to sleep.

Friday, 29 January 2010

This Week in Sahune

If you don't recognise "Nom"
you might try LOL Cats
or the Urban Dictionary.

I'm tired of waiting for summer.
Want to wear my Xmas T-Shirt.
Which dwarf do I most resemble?

Here is my indoor hat
from a site recommended by friend Rena.

Here is how it is usually perched.
Which dwarf do I most resemble?

Harry & Mio playing (honestly)

Watcha doin'?

A picture I never thought I'd see:
FloJo & Miosa sleeping together.
F has returned to trying to kill Mio.

Another picture I never thought to see.
Nala is so sick she didn't move
when Mio joined her on her rug.
Usually she leaves.
It's pyometra and she's being operated on today.
If you don't know what pyometra is, don't ask.
(Unless you have an unspayed female dog)