Saturday, June 25, 2005

June 21 - THREE

21 down, three to go. Slept through most of the post-injection period last night. Woke once feeling awful, but managed to go right back to sleep after taking a couple more acetaminophen. The lavendar and vetiver aromatherapy have helped make the sleep thing pretty much a nonissue now. This morning not too bad, with my Starbucks grande bold coffee and maple oatmeal scone. And a banana. And the riba capsules. Continuing to count down.

Saw nurse Sharon yesterday and had a lovely visit. Sharon in a very up mood, referring to the fact that I have about a 90% chance of clearing the virus and raving about how well things have gone on treatment. Met a couple of other patients in the waiting area also on combo. One woman who received hepC from her mother at birth, with one of her own children also infected. Doing a very individualized course of therapy lasting well over a year. In the grand scheme of life, I am so very fortunate. I will see Sharon again on July 22 - the last day I take ribavirin. They'll test viral load quantitatively to 50IU. Guess I'll get the results once back from the cottage mid-August. Then, they'll test again in six months. If negative at 6 months post-treatment, the Ontario government evidently considers you cured and will not fund further testing. As there are no "private" health services here, I would probably head across the lake to Buffalo in the US, for a test at about $250 a pop for future once per year testing.

The week has been very good. Have booked a couple of vacation days - one yesterday and another next Thursday, giving me a couple of long weekends to enjoy in the summer heat. Friday next week is Canada Day, so that'll mean 4 days off in a row! Work hasn't been too busy, which after several crazy busy weeks is a bit of a relief. Had nice lunches with Barb on Tuesday and my friend Sarah on Wednesday, both on the roof-top patio of one of the hospitals I work for. Is absolutely beautiful there, looking out for miles over the city, with the hospital core of the city (5 main hospitals and a chronic care centre literally within steps of eachother), and the University of Toronto surrounding the location. Many of the oncology patients come up there, enjoying the opportunity for fresh air and the view. Phillip has written the last of his examinations for the year and now has another week to go before starting to work for July at a music, drama and arts daycamp. I may be as relieved to have the school year over as he is! Phil's having a great time doing nothing for a week or so, hanging out with his friends, sleeping in late and enjoying the down time.

Toronto a happening place right now. The big news is the 25th annual Pride week, celebrating diverse sexual and gender identity, which culminates in a mega Pride parade tomorrow ( It is fabulous and about one million people are expected to attend Pride this year. There is also the International Caravan Festival, with representation of the multiple global cultures present in our city. As well, there is the Festival of Fire - an absolutely spectacular blend of fireworks and music that is presented down at our lakefront over several evenings. Am hoping to get to at least one event!

Must admit to leaving much music unlistened to this week, although I have been partial to some Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday. Having been inspired by the photographic excellence of other bloggers, thought I'd try and take some pictures on my way to and from work. Am finding that the camera does not exactly see things as I do (obviously the camera's fault), but am having a terrific time experimenting with it all! At some point over the next few weeks, I will try to decipher how one actually downloads photos into blogger and try to post some of my meagre attempts - am having a time deciding what's "representative".

The heat and sun are back in a maximum effect kind of way.... already 27 degrees at 8:00 a.m. Loving it - these are the days I dream of in the cold, grey of winter. Not only am I down to three more weeks of interferon and four weeks of ribavirin, but after five weeks, we will go to the cottage in the country, on the lake where we will swim, canoe and sail, where we will take walks through the forests, lie on the dock at night and look at more stars than we can count, with all of our family from Toronto, Montreal and Maryland together. Wonderful times to look forward to!


Saturday, June 18, 2005

June 18 - FOUR

Injection #20 complete. Four injections remaining. Yay!

Wicked myalgia and headaches with #20. Can’t say I’m going to miss this process. Continue to take acetaminophen and am feeling okay. Have my Starbucks grande bold coffee and bran muffins with milk chocolate chips, which I made this morning. Also, just made Phil a yogurt, milk, banana, peach blended drink. Ron still sleeping. Cats are fed, Goldie’s out hunting, Rain hanging out, Curry chasing flies on the deck.

It’s “Taste of Little Italy” this weekend, in the portion of Toronto where we live (obviously, Little Italy). They close down the main street for about ten city blocks, there’s music on every corner, people dancing in the streets, jugglers, magicians and mimes put on shows, restaurants provide tastes of their menus, and there are crowds from all over milling about, connecting and interconnecting. Great fun! I’m hoping that by tonight maybe (and by tomorrow definitely), I’ll be able to go out and participate. Phil was out on the strip with his friends from school last night and had a wonderful time.

It’s been busy still at work. Suspect its just the new normal. As public and political pressure increases to have shorter wait lists and faster turn around times in health care, we respond in kind, however, without extra staffing to compensate. Am tired and look forward to having a gradual return of my standard “hyper” energy state in a few weeks, when treatment ends. I’ve learned some very valuable lessons, though, about letting myself slow down. There are now things I see, feel, hear more clearly than I ever have before because I’ve had to slow down and have had, therefore, the time to appreciate them more fully. Hope to ultimately find a balance that will allow me to go, go, go the way I love to, but still take the time to truly appreciate what is actually out there. And appreciate what is here inside of me, too. I continue to learn a great deal about that, through this.

Highlights from the week include a quick get-together with Barb on Tuesday. She and her partner continue to face difficult family times and they figure prominently in my thoughts this weekend – my love goes out to them. The heat wave has broken (darn!), and it is 14 degrees on our deck this morning. Still nice enough to do yoga in the mornings though – birds circle high in the sky over me, with sunlight catching the edges of their wings as it rises in the East. Beautiful. Also beautiful, white and purple morning glory growing all over a steel mesh fencing of a parking lot, seen on the walk to work. It’s the contrasts that are so spectacular, sometimes. Nature, despite our urban sprawl, maintains a continued presence.

Movies watched – it’s been a Kurt Russell week on one particular channel, so I’ve seen two of my twisted faves – Big Trouble in Little China (great movie!) and Escape from New York. Managed to catch this week’s Dr. Who episode on CBC. Been listening to: White Stripes (new), Alexis on Fire, the Arcade Fire and more Coldplay, thank you very much to James, who burned me a Coldplay acoustic cd with stuff from Parachutes, Rush of Blood to the Head and X&Y – is amazing. Had possibly the best Zen Shiatsu massage with Allison ever yet experienced, on Thursday. Plan to continue with Shiatsu post-treatment, as it would seem to be just therapeutic for life, generally.


Saturday, June 11, 2005

June 11 - FIVE

As in, five shots remaining. Next few weeks will definitely be the countdown, now doable on one hand. Injection #19 last night the usual scenario – headache, muscle aches, skin aches (Is that possible? It feels possible), shaky and sweaty. The acetaminophen helps to alleviate all of this considerably. Slept well, feeling better this morning following a little more acetaminophen, but am fatigued. Will have my usual very quiet Saturday. By Sunday, will be on the move again!

I am, of course, indulging in the Saturday morning Starbucks ritual, this week including a venti bold coffee (really wanted coffee this morning!) and a lemon cranberry scone, with butter. It is hot, hot, hot still in Toronto. Each day has been at least 30 degrees and sunny. Love every single minute of it. Last night, post shot, we did put on the air conditioning and it helped a lot, however, usually I just like the heat. The cats are rolling about half comatose on the floor, a little less appreciative of the great summer weather in their fur coats.

We have three cats:

Goldie we’ve had since he was a kitten, now 14, is an orange tabby, our only outdoor cat, who rules the local alleyways and brings us home a variety of half dead and fully dead animals, including birds, mice, rats, bats and other bits and pieces, as offerings.

Rain was about a year in age when discovered several years ago by friends of James, left abandoned in an apartment they moved into, and we took her in…. Rain is an “unusual” cat, short haired white, with large, circular grey patches – when we had her spayed, they shaved her and the hair never grew back (I’ve asked the vet if this is normal – he says “no”), so she has pink back legs and belly. My sister Nancy believes that Rain looks like a small cow. Rain has several stuffed toy snakes that she carries around the house in her mouth while howling. Rain is afraid of sudden movements. Rain is one weird cat.

We obtained Curry (short for Courage), when I went to the animal shelter with my sister Sally, who was thinking of getting a cat. Sally did not come home with a cat, I did. Curry is about 9 months old now, is a white long haired female, with multiple grey and red patches and a completely grey and red fluffy tail. Curry weighed 2 lbs when she came home (at about 4 months of age), and was so sick, she almost died. Now, she rules the house and takes great delight in dragging toilet paper from the roll all over the upstairs. Such a cutie!

Both Rain and Curry stay with me after my shots and purr (Goldie’s out hunting).

The week has been great, although blisteringly busy at work. Will look forward to getting some serious energy back after treatment end. There’s been a return of the dreaded thrush, so am back on the “swish and swallow” for the next little while – ah well, it will pass. Discovered the newer version of Dr. Who on CBC this week and love it, so will be watching when I can from now on. Have been listening to Foo Fighters (new release), Coldplay (new release), K-OS, Stevie Wonder and Cat Stevens (“maybe if I laugh just a little bit…”), during walks to and from work. With the hot weather, I’ve taken to doing my morning yoga out on our deck. It is wonderful. There is something quite significant about actually looking at the rising sun while doing the sun salutation! A way to centre and calm, at the beginning of each day.


Saturday, June 04, 2005

June 4 - Counting Down

Saturday morning with my Starbucks tall bold coffee and a double chocolate croissant, which I am putting butter on. Probably sounds disgusting to some, but I am allowed to be decadent on the morning after injection. #18 is complete and I am definitely on the countdown. Three quarters of treatment finished. Only six injections remain. This fills me with great happiness, as it just can’t be done with too soon. My respect for those doing a full year of treatment increases with every shot. Really believe that the side effects have not been too bad for me and that I’ve generally had a very reasonable course, however, it drags me down. I am tired of it all and want to get on with life without treatment. Enough whining…. won’t be long now.

The week’s been brilliant. Warm, warm weather. Tank tops and flip flops on the walks into work and home. Benefits of having to wear scrubs while there: no need to dress for success. I zig-zag through the back streets, with a couple of different routes to choose from. All roads take me through urban residential, Kensington market, Chinatown, the area surrounding the University of Toronto and finally, the main hospital core. Notable sightings on the walks this week: an abandoned building, with wild, untended grounds where despite the decay, raspberry bushes are springing up around the edges on which bright orange lady bugs are crawling; the sun rising in the east on my way into work, shining through the stained glass windows of a Russian orthodox church and illuminating my path in rainbows of colour. What a glorious world.

Got together with Barb and Jim this week on Wednesday and had Indian dinner at their place – most delicious. Shiatsu massage with Allison on Thursday was wonderful, as usual. She reiterated pressure points to use when combating insomnia. Also picked up some vetiver aromatherapy oil to alternate with lavender for the same purpose. Has a nice, almost citrus, slightly smoky odour and I like it. Used some last night post injection and slept quite well! Thanks to Ron Metcalfe, for the very helpful information regarding its use. Music this week: Dido, Audioslave (again), Coldplay, Taj Mahal.

Getting geared up for the coming summer – June already, wow. Phil finishes up his first year of high school soon, with exams starting in a couple of weeks. He played his final school team rugby game last week for the year – man, this year really has flown by. He’s working for July as a theatre arts day camp counselor and will be starting right after school ends. Then we’ll head to the cottage. He may go and spend a week with my sister Nan and the family in Montreal before starting up grade 10 in September. Nan and family are having the foundation of their house completely redone and the house is currently on stilts. Poor Nan, is most stressful and I will be calling her daily for the next little while to try and lend some support. A little reciprocity! James and Annikka just dropped by and, with Phil, have headed over to Kensington market to pick up some groceries for us. Ron is now up and having some breakfast, (which is looking far healthier than my double chocolate croissant and butter…). Think I’ll go and have a relaxing few hours on the couch and then see how I feel about the rest of the day. Life’s pretty good!