Wednesday, December 30, 2009 4:56:52 AM
This week I’ve been on vacation. The weather in Seattle has been sunny, but cold. I visited the beach at Eagle Landing often, and each time it was different in some way.
When I wasn't walking to the beach, I was eating. That’s how we celebrate Christmas, right?
TUESDAY, December 22, 2009
This is how the beach looked today.
Our friend Elise, daughter of our friend Donna, is back in town. Donna and Elise came over for pizza in the evening.
WEDNESDAY, December 23, 2009
Elise and I walked down to the beach. Elise created a rainbow from the different colored stones. I appreciated the beautiful seaweed.
Today I didn’t go to Paraguay, but my brother Brian did.
THURSDAY, December 24, 2009
Bob, Elise and I went for a walk around the neighborhood.
In the evening, I assembled all the foods in the house that were high in saturated fat, and I set them on the table to recreate the happy memories I have of Christmas Eve. We even had Danish cardamom rolls and vegetarian field roast. Bob and I opened presents that friends and family in Ohio had sent us. I got one tasteful tie and two thoughtful ties. I got a Whomp-It.
FRIDAY, December 25, 2009
Bob and I took a walk down Maplewild. It was frosty.
In the evening we went to the home of Mary for a feast. We had two pies and a big huge pot of soup, and wontons and humbows and food. Mary’s cat Milo wanted to check out the presents. Mary gave us an African crèche, among other things.
Brian sent me photos of Christmas in Brazil. It looks like a lot of fun. I’m sure they had more to eat than just popcorn.
SATURDAY, December 26, 2009
I called Heidi in Brazil to wish her a happy birthday.
I walked to the beach, where I saw a couple of dogs playing fetch in the water. I guess the water stays pretty close to 50 degrees year round. You didn’t see ME getting in the water.
In the afternoon Bob and I went to Bellevue to check out the new Salvadoran restaurant that our friend Aminta just opened. El Copal is beautiful. It’s like the Salvadoran restaurant in West Seattle, only instead of pastry cases they have a bar. I had complimentary lettuce-and-fruit juice. It was delicious. We were also given complimentary fried plantain with guacamole and salsa. It was delicioso.
Our next stop was Sammamish.
Well, we were supposed to meet Rick, Ondrea and Jia at a restaurant, but we ended up at different restaurants. No matter. We all got food to go, and had a feast back at Rick, Ondrea, and Jia’s house. Heather and Anna were there, too… but for reasons I don’t understand, they are not pictured.
I got a whole bunch of birthday and Christmas presents.
SUNDAY, December 27, 2009
Bob and I walked to a nearby open house in the afternoon. Great yard. In the evening we met our friends from Lotus and Lily for a potluck. I want the recipe for the yam pie.
MONDAY, December 28, 2009
Bob went to work, and I went to the beach.
TUESDAY, December 29, 2009
I’m still on vacation, but I miss my job, so I went to school today to get some work done.
My next blog entry:
I am working on a memorial tribute to my cousin Mark for the next blog. When I have compiled enough photos and stories, I'll post them in the blog.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 2:10:43 AM
SUNDAY, December 13, 2009
Brian sent me photos of Bianca and Lexy… photos taken at the same park where Bob and I used to hang out in Anápolis. The waterfalls have water in them now. The warm summer photos contrast with our current reality in Seattle.
WEDNESDAY, December 16, 2009
Today was my birthday. Bob and I went out for dinner at our favorite Vietnamese place in Burien. It's kinda cold here now. It was freezing last week, so we're grateful to be half-thawed out
Bob gave me two beautiful sweaters to help warm me up
We had a raspberry torte which was, like us, formerly frozen… but a half-thawed dessert wasn't good enough for me, so Donna came by with an amazing, piping hot, hand-crafted cran-pear-y pecan crisp. It was worthy of my 52nd birthday. We basked in the warm glow of the candles. I think Donna used base-5 when calculating the number of candles for the cake. So, in summary, I had a happy birthday. People sent me all kinds of birthday wishes… mostly warm wishes.
SATURDAY, December 19, 2009
Today my winter break began… Two weeks off of work. Bob and I met Keith for lunch at Café Flora to continue my birthday celebration. The restaurant itself wasn’t so remarkable, so I took photos of Keith’s dogs instead.
SUNDAY, December 20, 2009
Donna invited Bob and me over to her place for meditation and cardamom coffee cake. It was delicious.
As if that weren’t enough, Donna took me to the symphony hall downtown to see a live performance of the Seattle Men’s Chorus. It was amazing. It was past Bob’s bedtime, so he couldn’t go.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Mondays are more fun when you’re on vacation. I went downtown to take care of business and to do some shopping.
Brian sent me photos of a big huge party at his house. I’m not sure what the occasion was. I’m pretty sure it had nothing to do with my birthday. I don’t know if Brian washes dishes as seldom as I do, but we have photographic evidence that he does the dishes… although it could have been a staged shot, or it could have been photoshopped. Nowadays you just can’t tell.
Monday, December 14, 2009 1:05:17 AM
Since I had problems with a computer virus, it took me a while to get this blog posted, with never-before-seen photos from three Thanksgiving feasts. Now the computer is working again, AND I have a new computer. I'm working on training the new computer now.
I've been working long hours at school, but I do have a few photos to share.
SATURDAY and SUNDAY, November 14 and 15, 2009
It had been a long time since Bob and I had gone down to Oregon to see Mom, so we hit the road. Carol joined us in Newberg for the party. We mostly ate for two days, but Bob spent one afternoon assembling an Ikea dresser for Mom.
We had a pre-Thanksgiving indoor picnic in anticipation of the actual holiday.
We got to enjoy some of the fall foliage and November flowers, too.
Here are the promised photos of the package I received from Krystal, in Japan. She sent me a talisman from a Buddhist temple, and three bags of Kit-Kat candy… Mango flavored, mocha, and caramel. Apparently they change the flavors every month or so. I missed melon-flavored Kit-Kat.
I want Krystal to send me her stationery next time she sends me a package.
I must have ventured into our yard and down to the beach, too, judging from these month-old photos.
THURSDAY, November 19, 2009
I have been working a lot of 12-hour days at the Secondary Bilingual Orientation Center… But not today. Today it was a 14-hour day. I stayed at school for Family Night. I got to meet a number of the families of my students.
SATURDAY, November 21, 2009
Despite the cool fall weather, I decided to walk down to the beach. The fall leaves have mostly fallen, but Eagle Landing Park is beautiful all year long.
I forgot my camera, so I borrowed Rick's camera.
We spent the food-based holiday with Rick, Ondrea, and Jia.
Now you can see the Celebration Loaf that was shipped on ice from the Midwest.
It was an amazing feast, with amazing guests.
Bob put up Christmas lights on our mantle.
It's been cold here lately.
Our Third Thanksgiving came on December 5, when Mary had us over for some sort of amazing feast for a pancake-crazed maniac like me. Technically it was not Thanksgiving, but a "Return of Bad Weather" feast.
Bob bought Norwegian julebrod from the Danish bakery.
Sunday December 6, we walked to beach, saw an open house, and watched a video.
Sunday, December 13, was Donna's birthday. We invited her to our home for brunch, stipulating certain preconditions. She was to bring a blueberry pie.
Brian sent me photos from Brazil... which I haven't had time to put on the blog yet. Sorry.
Monday, November 30, 2009 1:30:08 AM
So how come I don’t have very many pictures in this blog? Keep reading to find out. You’ll just have to try to picture each scene I describe.
Since I published my last blog a lot has happened…
I’ve been working long hours at the Secondary Bilingual Orientation Center…
But Bob and I took time out to go to Oregon on November 14 and 15. We visited Mom, and got to spend some time with Carol. We had an indoor pre-Thanksgiving picnic, and I took photos of the fall foliage. Bob spent an afternoon assembling an Ikea dresser for Mom, since I don’t have the patience for that. I have the patience to deal with 25 students at once, but not the patience to assemble a dresser with hundreds of components. No photos yet. You'll just have to picture the scene.
Later that same week…
I got a package from my friend Krystal in Hokkaido. She sent me a package filled with Kit-Kat candies… flavors not available here… mango, coffee, and caramel. It was a big hit. She said that they have different flavors every month or so. Her stationery is priceless. You'll just have to picture it.
The weekend of the 21st I went for a walk down to the beach at Eagle Landing. It’s good to get some exercise after being out of circulation for a few months. We still see flowers around here and there, even though it’s November.
For Thanksgiving Bob and I went to the home of Jia, who shares her home with her mother, a culinary genius, and her father, who is genius enough to limit his time in the kitchen to a supporting role.
I had forgotten my camera, if you can believe it, so I had to use a loaner camera. Fortunately Rick was kind enough to let me use his camera. Soon I'll have those photos to share. In the mean time, you'll just have to try to picture it. Ondrea had prepared an amazing dinner. She couldn’t find vegetarian “Celebration Loaf” locally, so she had it shipped by second-day air from points unknown in the Mid-West. It was worth all of the trouble and sacrifice. Jia spent the evening running around with her two best friends, to the point of exhaustion.
Thanksgiving is also the day my computer caught a virus. So, the photos I had for my blog up until that point are temporarily inaccessible. So, that's why you'll have to picture a few of the scenes I describe.
Bob and I weren’t sure how to fix the virus, so at 4:30 Friday morning Bob left the house in search of bargains. He reported seeing huge long lines at home electronics stores, so he ended up back in Burien, where he bought a new Sony laptop for us. We’ll fix the virus on the old computer when we get around to it. So, it’s harder for me to blog, now that we have to load programs onto the new computer, and learn how to use it. Fortunately, it feels somewhat familiar, since my computer at school has the same software.
Saturday, November 28, Bob and I walked down to the beach again. It was a clear, cold day, and we could see the snow-covered Olympics and Puget Sound. You won't have to picture it. I have photos of the scenes.
Mary came by later in the day so that she and Bob could indulge me and allow me to take them to my favorite restaurant this side of Jupiter. Udupi Palace has vegetarian cuisine from southern India. It’s located in what is, by one measure, Washington’s most diverse city, Bellevue. Thanks largely to Microsoft, 31 percent of the population in Bellevue was born outside of the US.
After lunch we did some shopping, and went out for coffee at Kitanda, a Brazilian coffee shop. The barista is an artista. I bought a few items while we were there, and feasted on rosca hungara, one of my favorite sweet rolls.
From there we went to the Bellevue Botanical Gardens, just before dusk. The gardens were set up for an after-dark light display, but we didn’t hang around for that.
Sunday our friend Donna came over to meditate with us. She brought this amazing cranberry pear crisp cobbler dessert. I could have eaten the whole thing. I didn’t.
Bob and I went shopping for fruit and software in the afternoon. A coworker calls me a humming bird because I eat so much fruit. That’s better than being called a fruit fly, I suppose.
In the coming days I hope to recover the missing photos to post on my next blog, or to add to this blog.
Brian sent me pictures from Brazil, so that people would still want to read my blog, even though it was short on photos this week.
Sunday, November 8, 2009 5:24:06 AM
My new normalcy started this week. I'm back to my old self now, but I'm working more than ever.
MONDAY, October 26, 2009
Fruit buying binges are always fun. Today I went to the Great Wall Shopping Mall to buy all of the amazing fruit not pictured here.
SATURDAY, October 31, 2009
HALLOWEEN Bob carved the pumpkin.
Bob and I went for a walk around the neighborhood to enjoy the fall foliage.
We had enough candy for 113 trick-or-treaters… And I thought we were well prepared.
So when we ran out of candy before 8:00, I blew out the candles, turned out the lights, and went into hiding while Bob went to the store to get more candy. Crisis averted. We had kids showing up from about 5:00 until 9:30, and we had a total of about 140 kids.
I really enjoyed having a parade of kids come to the door. They were in interesting costumes, and uniformly polite.
One kid came to the door and said, “What’s that smell?” I’m still not sure what they were referring to. I liked to hear kids say “Wow! Hersheys!” or upon leaving, “That was a good house.”
One girl came up to the door without a bag, and I wasn’t sure what was going on… until I saw her clutching a half-eaten candy bar, and I realized she was eating the candy as she went.
Costumes included Bible characters, the Pope, nerds, princesses, and various incarnations of Spiderman.
My costume? I wore my scary Halloween jack-o’-lantern tie.
SUNDAY, November 1, 2009
It had been a long time since Bob and I had been to the annual crafts fair at St. Patrick’s Church, so we headed over there with our friend Donna.
We saw some old friends, and we bought lots of things from around the world.
Afterwards the three of us went downtown for lunch at Ipanema Restaurant, where they have a Brazilian salad bar.
It’s not QUITE like being in Anápolis, but it’s still very nice.
The passion fruit mousse cake was amazing.
We were close enough to Pike Place Market that we decided to make a day of it and have a look around.
The highlight was The Wall of Gum in the Post Alley. Is there another wall in the world like this one?
TUESDAY, November 3, 2009
This was election day. Even though it was an all-mail election, and even though it’s an off year, it was still interesting to watch the returns.
The main thing is that the voters confirmed the wishes of the state legislature, and extended the rights of Washington State domestic partners, giving them the same rights as married couples. One small difference: the word “marriage” is missing. It’s known as “everything but marriage”. Still no federal recognition, but it’s nice to be recognized within the state. For five years Bob and I have been getting up and reading the newspaper headlines to figure out if we’re married or not. I guess we are again now. Sort of. When the law goes into effect, anyway.
WEDNESDAY, November 4, 2009
Today marked two weeks since my last radiation treatment. They say that the side effects only last for two weeks, so that means I’m back to normal now. A new normal. I’m SO normal now that I can work long hours at school.
FRIDAY, November 6, 2009
This ended a busy work week for me. I’m trying to get caught up, so I’ve been working 12-hour days. I’m hoping that soon normal will mean working a ten-hour day.
SATURDAY, November 7, 2009
This morning I called Heidi, and I talked to the girls. I want to see them all again. Brian sends me photos of the girls, just to make me homesick for Brazil. I was thinking about going to Brazil for Christmas, but now I’m thinking summer might work just as well.
Bianca and Lexy celebrated the exotic North American holiday of Halloween.
A hillbilly corn-popper can be made with little more than a candle and a beer can.
Yeah, days are shorter now, I’m working long hours, and I haven’t been taking so many photos. At least Brian has been sending me photos. Maybe soon I’ll have a few more of my OWN photos for my blog entries.
Oh, yeah... A few old photos of Bob.
Monday, October 26, 2009 12:11:54 AM
A REVIEW OF RECENT EVENTS:
The big news is that I finished radiation therapy on Wednesday, October 21. Hurray! In another week or two I’ll start feeling human again. I could compare the effects of radiation to a bad cold. I could still function. I didn’t miss any teaching during my daily radiation therapy. I got sleepy at about 5 pm, and I had to take nausea meds, but overall I fared OK. The most important thing is that I have really good medical insurance… and that I’m going to be OK.
As far as my job… I’ve kept busy. I enjoy working with the students. We have a great school. I sure wish I could speak Burmese. But finally after all these years I get to use the Lingala I learned in high school. I got really bad grades in geometry cuz I spent all my time learning Lingala from my friends. Finally now I have a student from Congo. Too bad I’ve forgotten so much of Lingala.
We’ve received payment from the sale of our condo in Brazil. I just wish we had all of our money in US banks. Darn. We’ve been in contact with our realtor as we dream of buying a home in the Seattle area.
The daily news…
TUESDAY, October 13, 2009
Today was Lexy’s birthday, so I called Brazil to wish her a happy 5th birthday.
FRIDAY, October 16, 2009
Vina Pho is our favorite restaurant in town, and I was ready for hot noodle soup. My radiologist tells me to eat bland food. Bah. What does he know. I need spicy Vietnamese food.
SATURDAY, October 17, 2009
It was time to see a movie. Bob, Donna and I went to the mall to see
“Capitalism: a Love Story”. Of course we had to go out for sushi afterwards. And of course Donna had to buy us TWO pies. Coconut cream wasn’t enough. We needed marionberry, too.
SUNDAY, October 18, 2009
We went to see “Queen of Brazil” with Ricardo. Interesting film.
WEDNESDAY, October 21, 2009
My last day of radiation therapy! My 17 sessions have come to an end. In another week or two I’ll start feeling human again.
SATURDAY, October 24, 2009
Betty and Bob had lunch out. Betty sent me a luscious fruit tart.
Bob and I headed to the Salvadoran Bakery. We desperately needed bread for El Dia de los Muertos. There’s just a week left until the big day.
SUNDAY, October 25, 2009
Rick and Ondrea invited us over to their home for a play date. We enjoyed the brunch with fakin’ (fake bacon), and fake sausage… and PANCAKES. Everything was delicious. The entertainment was provided by Jia, who is a high-spirited genius.
As Bob and I headed home, it started to rain. Undeterred, we went to Kubota Gardens to take some photos of the fall foliage.
In the evening Bob and I went to our Lotus and Lily gathering. We celebrated El Dia De Los Muertos, since we couldn't wait another week. We had an "ofrenda" altar with photos of those we love who have passed away. We were invited to bring the person's favorite food, too... So of course I brought a photo of my father and a can of hominy.
Photos from Brazil:
Brian sent photos of Lexy and Bianca. They’re getting ready for Halloween, even though it is likely they’re the only ones on the block who celebrate the occasion. I don’t think play-dough has anything to do with commemorating the holiday.
SEEN THIS WEEK IN THE USA:
Yellow and Red:
Bob has a pumpkin on our porch.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009 2:29:54 AM
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
I started radiation therapy… the first of 17 treatments Monday through Friday, scheduled to end on October 21. Therapy starts each afternoon right after school. I drive myself to and from the sessions at Swedish Hospital.
The guys at radiology used a magic marker to draw an outline on my tummy, showing the area to be zapped. Bob says the irregular outline looks like a silhouette of Abe Lincoln.
I have no idea why, but they even drew me a new belly button, about an inch above the old one. Those lines will wear off. But… I have four little dots tattooed on my belly and chest to help align me for each session. It looks like they’ll be there for good.
How do I like therapy? My reaction was “I’d better get a pony when all of this is over with.” But I’d really rather have a trip to Brazil or somewhere.
And I can’t pretend that radiation is just another class I’m taking. Calling the sessions “radiation lessons” hasn’t helped.
SATURDAY, October 3, 2009
St. Mark’s Cathedral hosted a fundraiser for the Blue Nile Children’s Organization. Bob and I were Mary’s guests at the Ethiopian dinner. In addition to the dinner there was a silent auction, performances, and a presentation about the work the organization does in Addis Ababa. I took time out to have a look around the St. Mark’s parking lot.
Later on, we received a thank-you note from the organization addressed to me… and to ROVER Baynes. I think they meant ROBERT.
SUNDAY, October 4, 2009
Bob has plants.
Donna came by, bearing a pie. It was marionberry pie. Donna stayed to watch the Simpsons with us.
MONDAY, October 5, 2009
I went to the radiologist today after therapy. Come to find out, I’m not SUPPOSED to feel like someone punched me in the gut, and I’m not supposed to stop eating. The doctor told me to triple the amount of anti-nausea meds I’m taking… and now I feel fine. Sleepy, but fine. Up until now I had felt like I had the flu… only without the fever.
FRIDAY, October 9, 2009
Bob has plants.
I stopped at the Salvadoran Bakery to pick up corn cookies, and more.
SATURDAY, October 10, 2009
Bob and I met up with Ondrea and Jia in Issaquah, where we dined at Pabla’s vegetarian Indian restaurant.
Bob and I stopped at Ikea to pick up a few essentials.
We bought a new table so Bob can bring his tender plants into the house, now that fall is here and it’s getting cooler. Some of his plants he moved onto the protected porch.
SUNDAY, October 11, 2009
The sale of our condo in Brazil went through, and we have started receiving the payments.
It’s time for us to start looking for a house to buy. We drove around the area and went to a couple of open houses.
In other news:
My stated goal is to have at least one representative from each major religion praying for me, just to have all of my bases covered. So far I have Christians (Protestants and Catholics), Buddhists, Jews, and Atheists all praying for me. I’m a few religions short.
I have been getting supportive letters such as this one:
I am so sorry you are going through this cancer scare. Someone needs to come up with another name for it because CANCER sounds so awful.…. I suppose the radiation treatments won't be much fun but you will have lots to write about. Hmm, I see a children's book in the making! Or not.
I don't do much praying but certainly will think good thought about you. Not that I ever thought bad thoughts about you!!!
Insurance is good
I’m glad that I have top-notch health insurance. Medical bills with five-digit numbers would scare me otherwise.
No super powers:
Despite my radiation sessions, I still have no special powers. I can’t shoot webs out of my wrists or nuthin. I do seem to attract spider webs, though, as I seem to walk into them with some regularity.
Now I’m almost average!
Averages can be tricky, as this line points out:
“The average human has one breast and one testicle.”
After my operation for testicular cancer, I’m closer to being an average human now, at least according to Des McHale (and former Washington state governor Dixie Lee Ray).
My kindergartners used to say funny things.
Now I’m working with secondary students… but… Once in a while I get a laugh.
I told a student I didn’t understand what he had written on his quiz.
I said, “I don’t understand number six.”
He said, “You are a teacher! How can you not understand?”
Photos from Brazil:
Brian sent me photos from Brazil, including photos from a farm in Mucumbinho. It’s jabuticaba season, so eating the purplish-black fruit was the focus of the outing.
Bianca has a cast on her left arm.
Lexy has a birthday on Tuesday… Five years old.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009 2:36:55 AM
This week I have two blogs. This one is the happy upbeat blog with photos. The other blog is the blog with no photos cuz it's mostly about hospital visits.
SATURDAY, September 12, 2009
Bob and I bought Danish pumpernickel.
Keith came over. Since we only bought two pies, we had to share.
SUNDAY, September 13, 2009
Donna came over and we walked around the neighborhood. There was a house for sale down the street from Donna. We dídn't buy it.
WEDNESDAY, September 16
THURSDAY, September 17
FRIDAY, September 18
SATURDAY, September 19
I left Bob in Seattle and spent four days in Oregon.
I wanted to be in Newberg for Mom’s surgery. The medical procedure was an excuse to have a family reunion.
I got to spend a day with Mom before her surgery, so we ate and picked tomatoes and visited the Friendsview gardens.
On the day of the surgery Carol and Connie were at the hospital.
I got to meet my two newest great nieces for the first time… Bella, from Bozeman, and Bethany, from Battle Ground. They, like everyone else in their family, are good-looking geniuses.
SUNDAY, September 20, 2009
Rick and Ondrea invited us over for brunch.
I was getting ready for a medical procedure, so I could only eat fat and protein... no carbs.
After lunch, Rick, Jia, Bob and I went to Pine Lake Park in Samammish for a little recreation.
We were menaced by a red swamp crayfish.
My friend and former coworker, Brent, dropped by our house in the afternoon to deliver a box of exquisite chocolates from the staff at the John Stanford International School, where I taught for six years.
They are all wishing me well.
MONDAY, September 21, 2009
I spent the better part of the day undergoing tests at Swedish Hospital. I don’t care what they do to me, as long as it doesn’t cause an attack of claustrophobia. They did put me into a contraption that I didn’t like, but the anxiety meds helped, as well as the music, and the warm blanket. And I got to choose which flavors of barium I got to drink.
I met my radiologist and got a schedule for my radiation treatment. It will be 17 afternoon sessions, beginning on September 29.
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2009
After missing school for various reasons, I finally got to teach my classes for a couple of days this week. I like my job. I like my classes. I like the students. My inner drill sergeant emerged, and I was able to order around 23 secondary students.
This week I also received a package from Ohio… filled with homemade cookies. Joan in Cincinnati had baked me yummy lemon sailboats and gingerbread cookies.
FRIDAY, September 25, 2009
Keith came by for a visit. We had pizza. We had pie. This time we had to share ONE pie three ways. Coconut cream pie is good to eat.
SATURDAY, September 26, 2009
I stayed close to home, but Bob and I ventured out to run a few errands.
SUNDAY, September 27, 2009
Bob and I met Mary for lunch. The new Thai place by Northgate is amazing. From there, of course, we went to the Kurdish bakery, Minoo. We bought three of everything they had with cardamom. It filled a box. We happened to pass by the Brazilian place, Tribal, so we stopped for juice... cupuaçu for us, graviola in a bowl for Mary (granola on top). At Tribal they were just bringing a cornmeal-cinnamon cake out of the oven. It didn’t meet their criteria, so we got it cheap.
We went to Volunteer Park and had a look at the dahlias.
We returned Mary to St. Mark's Cathedral, and had another photo op.
We said goodbye to Mary and headed to Lotus and Lily, where we shared the Brazilian cake with the group. Lily, the mascot, didn’t get any.
MONDAY, September 28, 2009
I cut class early today so I could go to my appointment at Swedish Hospital. I had the “dry run” for radiation therapy. I’ll find out Tuesday how I like it.
How many motorcycles do YOU have in your living room?
Heidi has five.
Heidi and Marcelo sponsored a tattoo convention in Anápolis.
Classic Undated photos from Brazil:
In other news... Bob bought a gargoyle.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009 2:09:38 AM
Candy Coating Cancer
First, the good news:
My doctor says I’ll live for 60 more years. And my brand of testicular cancer has a 98% cure rate.
Now the bad news:
My doctor is very bad at math.
There is no way to cast cancer in a positive light, but I will do my best to candy-coat My Adventures In Cancerland. I’m going into the adventure stockpiling exquisite chocolate from well-wishers, and I hope to end my radiation therapy with the best Halloween ever, with all the candy I want.
Most of my friends and family already know the story, but here’s the recap:
Summer: I decide to get all of my medical appointments out of the way before school starts.
Aug 18: I visited my primary care physician. He said something like, “Hey, what’s up? Why not go see your urologist?”
Aug 19: My urologist said, “Hmmm. Why don’t you go have an ultrasound?”
Aug 20: The ultrasound doctor said, “This doesn’t look good. Your doctor will probably order surgery.”
Aug 24: My urologist said, “The ultrasound isn’t good. You’re having surgery. How about a blood test?”
Aug 28: I had surgery… a left radical orchiectomy. Just before surgery my doctor informs me that my blood test came back negative for any aggressive form of cancer.
August 28 to September 4: I spent the week recovering from surgery, while my colleagues were getting ready for the new school year.
Sept 4: My urologist gives me the news, “It’s a good thing we took it out… The pathology report shows you have seminoma… Testicular cancer, stage 1 B.” That same day I had a CT scan.
Sept 9: My urologist says, “The CT scan was good. No nodes. No metastasis. Why don’t you go see a radiologist?”
Sept 14: I met with the radiologist for the first time… “Why don’t we do a PET-CT scan to see if you’re still claustrophobic?”
Sept 21: I had a four-hour ordeal at Swedish Hospital involving barium, a PET-CT scan, and four tiny tattoos (to make it easier to give me consistent radiation doses). See “Backwards Day”, below.
Sept 28: I had radiation therapy orientation with a dry run.
Sept 29: The first of 17 radiation sessions is set to begin. I’m told I’ll get a relatively low level of radiation, since seminoma is so responsive to treatment.
Oct 21: Final radiation treatment if the radiation machine doesn’t break down.
A note about the procedure on September 21:
It was BACKWARDS DAY.
Everything bad was good, and everything good was bad.
The preparation for the PET-CT scan went something like this:
48 hours before: No exercise
24 hours before: Fat diet. No sugar or starch. Just fat and protein… So I gorged on guacamole, cheese, nuts, and tofu.
Being fat is good. Being skinny is bad. Because I was so skinny I had to drink two bottles of barium: tangy vanilla, and white berry… (I didn’t try the banana flavored barium.)
The wait period before the scan:
NO READING! No activity. Reading is bad.
Tattoos are good for you! I had four dots tattooed on my abdomen to help with alignment for consistent radiation treatment.
Valium is good for you: Since I suffer from claustrophobia, I was told to take medication to help me relax. Say YES to drugs. Take your valium!
Things are never as much fun as you think they’ll be, but so far having cancer has pretty much met my expectations.
There IS an upside to having cancer...
* People give me whatever I want. I just tell my boss I want three days off to go to Oregon, and he says, "sure, no problem."
When I asked Bob if I could spend Christmas in Brazil, he said yes. What else could he say? So we'll see what happens.
* Now I have about 912 people praying for me, so what are the chances anything else will happen to me? My guardian angel sits up and pays attention now, after dozing off momentarily.
• I can tell all my favorite people "I love you" and no one thinks it's strange, cuz they think like maybe I'm on my way to Heaven, only the cure rate is something like 98%.
*All of my friends suddenly appear from nowhere to bring me chocolate and wish me well. My social life is better than ever before. I get more chocolate than a kid at Halloween and Easter combined.
* I always knew that Bob was some kind of saint, but now he gets to prove it by taking good care of me and treating me like the king of Belgium .
* I’m suddenly a VIP. The staff at Swedish Hospital coddles me. I even get a parking sticker to park in the best parking lot on Pill Hill, next to the radiation clinic.
* I have a renewed sense of gratitude. I’m glad that I have insurance. I’m glad I’m in the USA instead of Anápolis, Brazil. Bob reminds me, “You had surgery at Swedish Hospital, but I had surgery in Anápolis.” I’m feeling fine, and I’m grateful for all of the expressions of support from so many people. I’m glad I have 4 months of sick leave accumulated.
* I’m no longer afraid of getting cancer… I have one less thing to worry about since I already have it. Or maybe it’s just that my anxiety is no longer irrational… I have a reason to be anxious now as I await each new hospital procedure.
* Since I now know that a diet of health food causes cancer, I can eat whatever I want, starting with the chocolate that people have been bringing me. After trial and error, I have found that chocolate does NOT cure cancer, but I still keep trying.
* I can be self indulgent and pamper myself. I feel entitled to start making up my own rules now, and my first rule is to celebrate Christmas 4 times a year, and have fruit soup and Christmas bread throughout the year, not just on December 24th.
* My life memoirs will be that much more interesting. My story could become a respectable Brazilian soap opera now.
I’ve been getting a lot of encouraging messages like this one:
”I know several people who have gone through treatment for testicular cancer, and they are all still out and about causing all sorts of trouble, so yes, the prognosis is extremely good, especially with early detection. I'm glad you have people around to spoil you. Radiation is pretty icky, but if it helps it’s worth your while. Chocolate will definitely help, so you should pass the word to your friends to keep it coming. If there's anything you need that I could help with don't hesitate to ask.”
Frequently asked questions:
Q: Is this all a ploy to prolong your summer vacation and delay the start of the school year?
A: No. I was actually looking forward to starting the year at my new school, the Secondary Bilingual Orientation Center. It’s an amazing school with a dedicated staff and appreciative students. Ironically, I went to the doctor in August with the hopes of getting all of my medical appointments out of the way before the start of school.
Q: How could a skinny nonsmoking teetotaler vegetarian get cancer?
A: The world is full of mysteries.
Avoid being Caucasian.
Avoid family history.
Avoid childhood exposure to DDT and other things that have been banned for 40 years.
Avoid being a handsome genius (Research may not support this, but anecdotal evidence suggests it is a risk factor).
Many people are praying for me.
Which kind of prayer works best?
Two dimensional versus 3-D prayer:
The traditional prayer model to use when someone falls ill is the “prayer circle” or “prayer chain”. This kind of prayer is two-dimensional in nature, and not very competitive.
You might consider my patented 3-D prayer method. Specifically, the Prayer Pyramid.
Here's your chance to get in on the ground floor of a Prayer Pyramid Scheme! You start out praying for me. Then, if you ask someone to pray for me, and they actually DO, you get credit for THEIR prayers too... and, if THEY ask someone to pray for me, then you get credit for THOSE prayers, too! Soon you'll be at the top of this gigantic prayer pyramid scheme, getting credit for so many prayers prayed by other people, that after a while you won't even have to pray for me at all! The people under you will do all the praying, and you get all the credit without doing the work!
But in the meantime, thank you for your actual personal homemade self-prayed prayers.
Don’t worry… If you didn't get this message in time, you can pray for me retroactively.
And if your tradition doesn’t believe in prayer, then please send me your positive thoughts and your good will, although these intentions will be discounted at a rate of 10%.
In my next blog entry, expect to hear about radiation therapy… and my new chocolate-coated diet.
Friday, September 11, 2009 3:55:39 AM
HOW TO GET A LOT OF CHOCOLATE
I learned how to get people to give me lots of chocolate.
It started when I had outpatient surgery at Swedish Hospital on Friday, August 28th.
The next day Donna and Elise showed up with a card, tea, and chocolate. Then Keith came by. I got Salvadoran pastry. Betty aka Kathy showed up with chocolates.
On Sunday, Mary showed up bearing a lentil casserole, fruit cobbler,and chocolate.She brought so many food items that I am still discovering new things in the fridge. So, I spent the week recuperating from surgery and convalescing, and getting better… and eating chocolate.
I took a few photos close to home. I walked to the post office to mail some chutney to my mom.
Since my doctor told me to take the week off, I missed the teacher preparation days at my new school, the Secondary Bilingual Orientation Center.
Elise dropped by for a visit.
By SATURDAY, September 5, 2009… I was feeling better. In fact, I felt well enough to go on an outing. Bob and I met Mary so she could show us her new favorite nursery. Bob and Mary bought plants. I took photos. The three of us accepted an invitation to visit Suzanne and Neil at their home near the UW. We had fruit with white stuff on it. It was nice to get out and about after my surgery.
SUNDAY, September 6, 2009
Rick, Ondrea, and Jia came by in the afternoon for a late celebration of Rick’s birthday. They brought me chocolate. Bob and I served pupusas and cake from the Salvadoran Bakery. We gave Rick antique maps. Jia brought one of her favorite videos so we could all learn Mandarin together.
MONDAY, September 7, 2009
LABOR DAY, BRAZILIAN INDEPENDENCE DAY
I sat around. I did a lot of computer research so I could ask my doctor a lot of questions.
TUESDAY, September 8, 2009
I went to school and set up my classroom. I met with the substitute who will help me while I’m out for a series of medical appointments.
WEDNESDAY, September 9, 2009
Today was the first day of school, but I sat it out, choosing to go visit my doctor, instead. My doctor says I’ll live 60 more years. I’m not sure I want to live to be 111 years old, but that’s welcome news after two weeks of being poked and prodded by the medical community. With a prognosis like that, though, I doubt that I’ll be getting much more chocolate.
THURSDAY, September 10, 2009
I had a substitute teaching my class, but I showed up for work anyway, just so I wouldn't miss out on anything. There are a lot of new names to remember, and there are a lot of needs, but the students are great. Since I'll probably be missing class from time to time for medical appointments, I thought it was a good idea to line up a substitute who could be with my students every day.
Rick and Ondrea brought us photos they had taken of us this last summer.
FOTOS FROM BRAZIL
(If you look closely, you'll see that I’m not the only one who got chocolate.)
SEEN THIS WEEK