I just found a great link that starts to explain why I'm an atheist and why I really miss George Carlin...
Not to mention this one, too...
I removed the pink background...
Claudia's pretty much back to normal AND her hair now covers her scalp. I expect that soon she'll only be wearing a cap or wig out in public when it's too cold to go "bareheaded." (Which was pretty much all of last winter, anyway!
The Herceptin drips will continue until spring of 2013, but with negligible side effects, it's hardly worth "updating" until it's over.
I don't want to go without letting all of you know that your prayers and wishes and "good energy" was always appreciated by both of us (as well as meals that were so lovingly and generously brought over during the "early times." All of those things really helped Claudia keep her spirits up, and she's come through this challenge like a real trouper! Major kudos to that girl!
Now I'll take a turn...
As most of you already know, I've been doing wood turning for about two years now, and like any beginner, I've run into at least my share of the sharp edges and spinning parts of power tools in my shop as well as having taken a few headers on ice patches around the property the year before last. I don't fall "well."
Well, I added a new non-skill to my falling repertoire on Thursday afternoon, November 8th.
My next door neighbors have been taking down more of the trees in their back yard and I've been "rescuing" a lot of logs of maple, oak and pine as they've made more backyard play area for their children.
Thursday I thought I'd abscond with a few more logs for my neighbor/friend/turner Jeff and was carting three over to my workshop... when I tripped.
As I said, I still don't fall "well" so, instead of dropping to my knees and letting go of the logs, we "all went down at once" and I watched as my face too-quickly approached a hollowed out half-log in front of me. "CRACK!" ... well, "crack," actually, is what I heard as the left side of my face hit the log. With wonderful good fortune, my cheek bone took most of the brunt of the hit, leaving my face with just a few minor scrapes. The REALLY lucky part is that, if there had been a twig pointing up at the right angle at the right time, it would have not-so-neatly removed my left eye. Whew! Serious luck, there.
So, I went inside to assess the damages, dab some alcohol on the wounds and see how I looked. Mostly bruised and scratched. Looked like it would be possible for me to still go to the monthly Wood Turner's Guild meeting that evening!
Then I blew my nose. The next time I looked at my face, my upper and lower eyelids around my left eye looked like I'd gone five rounds with a heavyweight boxer! Upper and lower lids were puffed up like cauliflower ears, but not on the side of my head!
Yes, "WTF?!" was my initial reaction.
So, to not upset my napping wife, I called Jeff and told him I probably wouldn't make it to the meeting, so don't pick me up... and quietly figured out if I thought I could see well enough to drive myself to the ER. At least I didn't have a power tool to blame this time.
Oh, and Claudia was going to live theater later, so I phoned from the ER to tell her I was just a bit banged up and she shouldn't cancel her plans. In the end, she had a great time at "She Stoops to Conquer" presented by the excellent crew at the Deep Dish Theater.
I made it to the ER just fine, though visibility through my left eye was mostly horizontal, due to the swelling.
Two Tylenol's and two ice compresses and a CAT scan of my head verified that I'd cracked my cheek bone below the left eye. That's the noise I heard/felt when I hit the log.
Why the suddenly puffed-out spots above and below my eye? Well, cracking the front of your skull cracks the otherwise nicely-sealed sinuses behind your face. When I blew my nose, the pressure essentially shoved whatever lived in there into the areas above and below my eye, causing the instant puffiness!
So I also got a prescription for a mild oral antibiotic to make sure that good stuff didn't do any future damage.
Yes, this moron actually considered going to the Guild meeting anyway, but finally thought better of it and went to our nearby pharmacy with my antibiotic prescription instead. Turned out that the pharmacist recognized the name of the PA who'd attended to me at the ER... they're neighbors! More "small world of Raleigh!"
Came home, fixed up an ice pack and laid down until Claudia got home.
It's been about 36 hours now and the swelling is down a good amount, the Tylenol still works (pain levels never got above about 1-2 on the 0-10 scale we use) and I've not blown my nose or sneezed since then. I've got an appointment Monday morning for follow-up and checkup, but for now, everything is pretty much ok.
Do not try this at home, with or without a professional driver!
Claudia's even more back online now, more active with Neuse River and many of the activities "Before Chemo." Looks like we'll be seeing more movies, too, and that's good, because it looks as if there are a bunch of good ones hitting the big screens soon.
And, a Top-of-the-Claudia update: HAIR!!
Not quite in the half-inch range yet, or maybe almost, but definitely well beyond the "peach fuzz" stage! The coloration looks, right now, to be pretty much the same as it was last spring. Wigs and scarves are still de rigueur, but their days will soon be numbered.
Claudia's been getting back in the swing of things with the Neuse River Golden Retriever Rescue Group and is off to a "staff meeting" tonight. Last night we missed the First Big Debate, but recorded it. Claudia watched it this morning and I may watch it, too. We were at DPAC enjoying a wonderful performance of "War Horse... The Musical" there. Excellent! Though we missed a lot of dialogue due to the British/Irish accents used by the performers... much the same as the dialogue we miss on TV for the same reasons...
Radiation treatments: Over and Done With! Plus another "diploma"!
She still has Herceptin infusions for months to come, at the same every-three-week rate as the rounds of chemo, but the side effects are expected to be minimal. That should finish in April, 2013.
Oh, and I almost forgot... guess what's beginning to reappear on her head? Right! Hair!!! No longer a cue-ball (which she never was, as there was always a bit of fuzz there, all through the chemo, but now it's growing a bit and on average, is probably approaching a half inch or more.
Just a few more radiation "zaps" to go. The last few will be "booster shots," so to speak, at higher energy levels and targeted more closely at where the tumor was. Claudia's still doing remarkably well, with increasing energy and continuing her positive spirit!
She even talked about adopting another cat but thought better of it, thank goodness. The local county shelter is begging for adopters and fosters, as they're full to the brim with rescues and will have to start putting 'em down if they can't find homes for them.
Happy New Year 5773!
Claudia's somewhere around half way through the radiation treatments and not feeling very much fatigue (yet?), unlike some other folks who've reported a LOT of tiredness from the treatments. Another two weeks or so and the radiation phase will join the law firm of Over & Donewith.
AND... over the past week or so, her almost-bald pate (she never lost ALL of the fuzz on her head) is now showing signs of real growth of longer fuzz!
We went to the Home Show at the NC State Fairgrounds today and hiked what must have been a good number of miles from the parking field up, around two buildings'-worth of displays and back. We both napped VERY well when we got home. We checked in with several vendors we'd hired in the past and noted a few others we'd bought from, too. One of the contractors we talked to about installing a nice set of privacy doors for Claudia's room also does other kinds of modifications and repairs we will be interested in, too, like for our front porch and railings and, some day in the future, making the house "old age proof," by widening doorways and building ramps. Yes, we aim to spend many more years in our lovely home!
Claudia's Prius V turns one year old next month, so we "have to" take it in for its yearly checkup, even though it's barely clocking 5,000 miles. Both cars are due for yearly NC State DMV inspection, too, so we'll try to knock out both of them this week.
Oh, and I turned several more bowls like Bowl 29 (scroll down to see Bowl 29,) and they look great. I've changed my turning bench a bit, too, to accommodate an extension to the lathe, and I moved my slow-speed grinder, used to sharpen turning tools, to one of the other benches in my workshop.
One of the features of my turning bench may be featured in an upcoming issue of a Wood Turning magazine! More on that later.
Five radiation treatments down and an unknown number to go ...
Another new tidbit, too: Originally planned to be 30 treatments of radiation, five a week for six weeks, the "radonc" (Radiation Oncologist) says that if Claudia handles the treatments well, he may be able to raise the intensity of the beam and "get 'er done" in as few as 20 zaps! This may be (no pun intended) "a moving target."
Well, she doesn't glow in the dark... any more than before, anyway...
... Two treatments under her belt... actually a bit above her belt ... and Claudia's doing very well. No signs of fatigue or even sunburn yet.
Now we have to learn more about "linear accelerators, photons" and the like.
One other tidbit: Originally planned to be 30 treatments of radiation, five a week for six weeks, now looks like it will be about 25 or so, so just 4-5 weeks more!
For now, she's driving herself to the treatments. I drove for the first one and they wouldn't let me past the waiting room up front. For the chemo, I could go all the way into the chemo delivery room, enjoy a chemo recliner and even nap. Not so for the other side of the building. If Claudia suffers fatigue later on, of course I'll drive her again. But for now, maybe I'll get a little more wood-turning time... or nap time, or whatever.
Put on your lead-lined underwear -- Radiation Treatment starts September 6th !
... and will continue, every weekday for thirty weekdays! Again, expectations are for less fatigue, but we'll take that one day at a time, as we've done for the past months.
Well, last night was a Blue Moon (by some current "definitions,") so I went to Temple with Claudia. A snack before services, services, then a short trek to a nearby restaurant for schmoozing with some of the members, even though most of them were happily ready to vote for another four years of Obama. We'll all find out soon enough.
Weinberg's Deli: Highly Recommended! Excellent food, great staff. We enjoyed the food as well as the folks we were with.
And the last round of "Tired," too, we hope!
About a week after a chemo treatment, tiredness attacks and Claudia needs lots of rest for several days, and this "week-after" demonstrated the cumulative effects. Fortunately, the radiation treatments, soon to be scheduled for the weeks ahead, are expected to be, as I already said, less pronounced. We'll see, and I'll let y'all know.
The box for Shiloh's ashes arrived and I moved them from the container we got from the veterinarian to the beautiful cherry box with her name on it.
And Claudia received a "diploma" for graduating from her chemo....
Today marked the sixth and final chemo treatment for Claudia. No, the show's not over by a long shot... radiation will take six weeks and the Herceptin drips will go on until early spring of next year, but the side effects of all of those treatments should be milder than that of the chemo.
Lots of hugs and best wishes for her at the Cancer Center today, plus a Congratulations Certificate, too. (a bit like a diploma for being graduated on to the next phase. And another mug of flowers gift, too.
Yesterday (Monday) I got my eyes checked by the retina-inspection folks, and although my vision is a tiny bit worse than last time, the innards of the eyeballs seem to be doing well, so I got my next appointment card for a year from tomorrow. Good luck to their computer and our bulletin board on not forgetting about that one...
And the dogs don't seem to miss Shiloh much at all. The container of her cremation ashes arrived last weekend and the memorial box will be coming soon along with an engraved plate to attach to the front. We'll probably scatter some of her ashes in a few of her favorite spots in the back yard and a tiny bit in some of her favorite spots in the house for leaving liquid and solid gifts for us in her later days.
Yes, we do miss her a lot and talk about her with friends, relatives and anyone with whom we share dog stories.
Oh, and the cat is still alive, too.
A week of ups and downs for everyone. Claudia's feeling fine and we returned from a great weekend at Southern Shores on the Cape near Kitty Hawk with her daughter Vicki and Vicki's family... Brian, Hailey and Danielle. We all romped in the ocean's warm waters (Eat your hearts out, Northern California...), had some great dinners out and Vicki and her brood enjoyed some touristy things like the Aquarium, a dolphin-watching pontoon boat excursion and many of the good restaurants in the area. One of our grandsons, Coby, joined us for the trip, too, and enjoyed the new sights on the trip out, including trying to name some of the crop plants growing in fields along the highways.
Claudia's adrenaline-high in anticipation of the vacation trip kept her buzzing for several days before the chemo-fatigue caught up with her... her final chemo is scheduled for August 13th. She's catching up on her rest time now that we're home and another chapter came to an end...
Shiloh had been showing signs of old age and distress, so we wanted her to be at a medical facility if any emergency arose. They're just wonderful folks at Care First, and they provide many services to the Neuse River Golden Retriever Rescue group.
When we picked up the pets Sunday afternoon, the two dogs and the cat were fine, but Shiloh showed more signs of distress over the next day, and we decided that "The Time Had Come" for her. While she'd been pretty spunky the first half of the year, after her sixteenth birthday last month on th 27th, she'd been losing weight, stopped enjoying food and began to have extreme difficulty standing up, maintaining her balance and walking.
On the 30th, she could barely walk at all, so we took her back to Care First for her last day.
The vets and staff had known and loved her for years already, and many of the staff came into the room to say their good-byes to her, too. Claudia and I said most of our farewells at home before we took her to Care First, and I cried a lot both at home and at Care First. There were very few dry eyes that afternoon, and at one point I went over to one of the staff folks, handed her a tissue and hugged her.
And now, that page is turned. She'd had a much better life with us than before we rescued her in California years ago, and she's put her mark (so to speak) on many states' rest areas and hotels' grassy areas as she traveled across the US five times with us.
I have a sneaky suspicion that I may be getting more exercise in the future, though, as we now have one dog for each of us to walk more often than we have in the past, when managing three was a bit of a challenge for us.
I've put up a few of the many photos of Shiloh on the Memorial Page to share with you all.
Ok, let's say "a little more tired" was an understatement. Round 4 Chemo did hit her harder than the others. We'd been warned that some of the effects would be "cumulative," and they accumulated on her for the rest of the week. LOTS of sleep time and more nausea. The anti-nausea pills have been effective, though, but this girl has gotten more sleep time than a bear in winter. Today, though, she's been vertical a bit more, so it appears as though she's still bouncing back from the effects. Makes us a bit leery about what the next two will be like, but at least those are the last two Chemo treatments. After that, the new unknown reactions to radiation will take place.
So, if you phone, she may sleep through the ringing, and don't expect a lot of going out or socializing for a while. And we're really both fine. Really.
Chemo 4 was on July 2nd, and was pretty much as uneventful as the last few. Claudia's been feeling a little more tired, still; getting up early enough to drive her to the Cancer Center also guaranteed that I would commandeer another one of the recliners and grab a few z's while she watched her movies on her iPad, and that's what I did.
She's also been adding more and more hats, caps and head scarves to her collection. The chemo wardrobe grows and grows!
My PC died last week, and I've spent most of the week after that replacing it and reloading my collection of applications onto the new one. The new one, an HP p7-1234 sits on my desk with its 8 GB of RAM, terabyte of native hard drive and quad-cpu chip inside. That always reminds me of the day back in the late 80s or so when an HP marketing guru mocked me for wanting to boost my home PC up to 450 MB of disk... "What the hell do you need that much storage for?!"...
Yep, I was usually a year or two ahead of the rest of the world in some ways. Such fun.
Last weekend was a toaster, with temperatures above 100 F for three days or so. The subsequent days kept the thermometers above 90 or so, though humidity was low until just the past day or two when the winds blew through north of us. The ferocity of the storms surprised a whole bunch of people, knocking trees onto houses and cars and cutting off power to tens of thousands of homes across a huge area. Naturally, with our generator next to the garage, our power didn't blink. Figures...
Although she's been having some more physical problems, like slipping and sliding on our hardwood floors, our Golden Retriever Shiloh turned Sweet Sixteen last Wednesday, the 27th of June. That's something in excess of 95 years or so of human age equivalent, and we're impressed with how well she actually does. She had a urinary tract infection recently and got a trip to the vet for some checkups, ultrasound testing and medicines, but seemed to bounce back pretty well! At this point, we have NO expectations for how many more birthdays she'll get to celebrate, but she's such a dear that we treasure every day with her.
On the other hand, Jake has expressed some separation anxiety when we've been out of the house for more than three or four hours, which included a birthday party for grandson Liam on Sunday last. When we got home, we discovered that he'd enjoyed two rooms... pulling some papers off Claudia's desk and shredding them quite well, but the corker came when I went into our bedroom.
He'd discovered a plastic two-drawer file where Claudia HAD BEEN keeping some of her medicines. Jake pulled one drawer open, got several of the small plastic bottles out of the drawer and proceeded to destroy the bottles on our bed. The remarkable thing was that it appeared that he didn't like the taste of any of the pills but really enjoyed chewing up the containers. Probably none of the meds would have been fatal, but the flip side was that he completely destroyed the bottles AND the labels! This led to the fun task for Claudia of calling the pharmacy and asking for refills for "whatever the last prescriptions were... check your records."
Rarely a dull moment around here, thanks to the pets and relatives.
And for preservation of my remaining sanity (did I ever have any???), I've dropped out of most of the blogging groups at Linked in under the White House Group and joined two Wood-turning groups at Linked In.
Much more pleasant discussions. :)
Safe and happy 4th of July to all...
Halfway Point of Chemo! Session 3 of 6. I read the newspaper and napped. Claudia watched her iPad and played some games on it. Returned home. Napped.
Don't be surprised if many of the Chemo update days are like that. Claudia's doing very well, still, with good appetite, great spirits, little discomfort and good energy level.
As it's been for weeks, now. The only nausea was mild and after the first session only, and as I said, controlled with fairly light medication. YMMV... Your Mileage May Vary, and her side effects have been very mild (other than turning the top of her head into something resembling a peach with long fuzz. She's getting good at caps, scarves and wigs in public and quite comfortable with any of the three.
Many of you have expressed worry or concern about "how Claudia is doing." In a nutshell, the most dangerous part is over... the tumor was removed months ago, now. The chemo phase is designed to track down and "make miserable to the point of death" any stray cancer cells lurking around her body. The next phase, radiation treatment, is to ensure that the site of the original tumor blasts any localized stragglers to oblivion, too. The absolutely most "dangerous" part is over... that ended the moment the tumor was removed. All the rest is protection and insurance against recurrence, and that's why it's long and complex. Her life changed with the detection stage (the Pool Boy's Discovery Event,) and again with the surgery to remove the lump.
Her attitude continues to be just wonderful, as is her appetite. We've gone to restaurants, movies and "survivor celebrations" surrounded by people and, knock wood, nothing bad's happened.
Last year was the Year of the Puppies (not to be repeated) and this year is the Year of the Cancer Treatments (hopefully never to be repeated, either!) Claudia is looking forward to the final treatments less than a year from now, and refers to next year as "Travel!" when she's planning to go see places she's never seen before, and maybe take me along to some of them, too. (I have much less of a travel bug, but DO like to be with her, so I'll have some deciding to do, too. Having traveled quite a bit with Wife #1`and on business for 30-40-some years, airports and airplanes and crowds are not my favorite places. We'll see what 2013 brings...
I brought the pressboard shelves from one of the shelving units down to my workshop to paint, in order to protect the otherwise naked wood from the impressive summer humidity in the garage. I may get nervy and try spraying some paint/primer on them. (New toy in the shop.) Wish me luck... I've never done that before, other than in a demo unit at Woodcraft one day.
I've also gotten back to writing. I've not touched my autobiography in a long time, but the other day I decided to reorganize "The Book" I started and I finally figured out a way to organize the concepts in a way that will make the writing, editing and "assembly" easier. More later. Samples/excerpts, maybe. Parts of it will be a lot like some of the collection on my "Lessons" pages on my site.
Midway point of chemo is tomorrow morning, Tuesday, the 12th. Third of six chemo sessions. Another milestone! For everyone who's asked or worried, Claudia's spirits are STILL wonderful, her appetite is fine; no nausea since a few days after the first cycle! Energy level is good and her pattern of afternoon naps from about 3-5 pm continue unabated.
I'm still working on selling stuff off to reclaim space in our house. Anyone want a nice multi-hundred-dollar fire pit for your patio or deck. We never used ours. I put it on Craig's List. I've also sold off several boxes of stuff that've sat around for years or more taking up space and/or collecting dust. I put the money from all of those sales right back into our home equity loan to help pay it down. I'll do that with my woodcraft income, too... as soon as anyone buys some. We've settled into a new routine and I do believe I'll be able to get back to my wood shop more in the near future. I just bought a pair of shelving units to put in the garage to hold the wood logs and pieces I've been accumulating there for future use. I've been reading a book about a master wood turner and noticed a part where he describes his wood storage as "in the garage and under his deck," which is exactly where I've been collecting mine. The wood seems to like either spot for gradual drying. In reality, it can take a year or more for newly-cut wood to dry properly to the point where it can be turned without much additional shrinkage or warping. Unfortunately, I'm often impatient to get wood onto the lathe, and I've turned many a hunk of wood that's so green that water sprays onto my face shield as the piece spins. Wood holds a LOT of water inside it!
Solar collectors are on line! Our Power Company swapped the electric meter for one that shows power flow into and out of the house and a short time later I threw the BIG Switch that connected the solar electrics to the home wiring. There's a web-connected box in one of our closets that monitors the health and well-being of each solar panel and measures all of their individual outputs on a several-minute basis, then sends the data to the a website where I can see graphs of the system's output and health from my PC (or phone, if I download an app for it! Way cool.
Claudia's still doing well as the chemo progresses. Third round is on the 12th, and between doses, her spirits have still been wonderful with few side effects other than the two gorgeous new wigs.
When one of our relatives phoned to ask how she was doing, my answer was, "I don't know for sure right now, but she'd left the Golden Retriever Adoptathon in Cary and just called to say she was shopping at the mall... So that was a good reading on her activities and energy level. Later we went to dinner with a close friend to a restaurant in Chapel Hill, after which we watched one and a fraction sci-fi movies before she headed to bed.
Friday, the contractor who was promised by the Solar installation guys came to fix the hole in the ceiling in the room over our garage. He did a wonderful patching job, and for a few extra bucks, patched a small mysterious spot in the master bath's ceiling, too. Super-nice guy, NC native and works for his dad's construction company. They've put up numerous houses and more for clients and family. Two hours of patching and probably two more hours of story-telling on both sides. Way fun!
Another detail popped up on connecting the solar system to the power company... we're on the "averaging system for billing," and that's got to be turned off before the two-way meter goes in. Hopefully, a phone call on Monday will make that happen and it won't delay anything.
Did I ever tell you about our Golden Retriever Shiloh in her younger days? She seemed to HATE any chew-toy with a squeaker in it, and would rip 'em apart and destroy the squeaker, spreading the stuffing innards of the toy all over the place like a cotton ball snowstorm had hit the room. One of the first toys she ripped up was a duck.
After viewing the carnage, I coined the term "wuzza" as a prefix, because that duck had become a "wuzzaduck."
Well, Shiloh's hearing isn't so keen any more and she hasn't ripped up a toy in a long time, but suffice it to say that our maturing cat, P-K, has presented us with more and more gifts over the past weeks, including several wuzzamouses and, more unfortunately, several wuzzabunnies.
Well, our neighbor a few doors up who's complained that our dogs had caused a bunny migration up to her house may see a decrease in those pesky intruders as the summer gets going...
Filled up the back of Claudia's Prius with a small herd of dog crates and kennels that were filling up a large part of our garage and drove them down to Cary to a storage locker where the Neuse River Rescue group stores stuff. They'll be donated or made available to folks who need them in the future. Our garage says, "Aaaaahhhhhh..." in relief.
Claudia took her head to the wig shop today and had most of her remaining hair buzzed off, down to maybe 1/4" or so. Mine's still shorter than hers, for now, but we expect more of hers to be gone soon.
Fortunately, she's still showing a good appetite although back to post-chemo tired (I'm experiencing sympathetic drowsies, too, so we nap a lot.)
She's generally felt fine, though the post-chemo shot to boost her blood production gave her some bone-aches again, as expected. Advil seems to control that discomfort very well, though.
My right elbow gives me more complaints than Claudia gets from her body, so far, and that's fine with us. She's still a very strong gal and a real trouper, bless her heart, mind and body!
Best Buy finally got their stuff together and the installation guys put the new clothes washer and dryer in place....
Lots of small fun stories in that one, as problems kept popping up and were beaten down in the installation process.
In our tiny little laundry space off the garage, they should really have brought out a "little person" so they could dangle him or her by their legs behind the units to make the connections to water, power and vent. I felt lots of sympathy for the installers as they wormed their way around and over the units to make that happen. In the end, success, and I got to run my first laundry load through them before Claudia got to them.
And, of course, I had to watch at least most of the first run of the washer to see what it would do. Lots of fun things, there, too. The detergent isn't just dumped in with the wash water, it's foamed and then released into the drum. Strange! But the vendor says that's supposed to do a better job. Lots of nearly impossible to read or understand little icons on the LED display panel, and they love to blink and blink and blink..
But in the end, the washer and dryer seemed to work well and my laundry came out very nice, thank you.
Hopefully, that's the last two or three major expenses this year! (oh, after the Prius V last year...) The home equity loan got lots of exercise already. Now to start paying it down...
In the late afternoon we went to the puppies' first Birthday Party celebration at a nearby neighbor's home. They have a nice fenced-in yard and a whole bunch of the puppies' owners brought the now 1-year-old lunatics to run around the lot. Barely recognized most of them due to their "immense" size, (relatively,) although we could still see some of the differences in fur... smooth versus shaggy and lighter and darker, just like when they were tiny. And Roxie, the mom-dog was there and fully decked out in gobs of tail and leg "feathers" characteristic of a Golden. She's about two and a half years old now and spent a lot of time showing the other dogs she was still the boss. A wonderful barbecue pot luck treated the humans and a peanut-butter and cream cheese-flavored "doggy cake" was divvied up amongst the canines. The cream cheese icing was delicious, although the sight of me tasting it grossed out one of the small human kids. Human adults got a dessert of a wonderful key lime pie. A wonderful time was had by all.
Funny additional note... someone brought a bouquet of flowers for Claudia and she asked me to put them out in the car. As I got to the car, a man (neighbor from across the street from the party) walked by with a greyhound on lead and a 2' long, maybe 7" diameter log under his arm.
"Beautiful dog; are you a woodworker?" I asked.
That began a ten minute conversation between us two wood turners. Seems he'd just picked up the log from a neighbor around the corner who'd cut down a dying cherry tree! He said the guy was going to toss or burn the wood, and I could probably ask him to let me have some, too. So I drove my car around the corner, introduced myself and loaded about 4-5 really nice large hunks of cherry wood into my car. He had two very large pieces that I would not be able to lift... about a foot or more in diameter and length. I suggested that local wood workers might like the pieces of cherry and Craig's List might make him some money, too. When we left a few hours later, the little trailer full of wood was gone but two large pieces of wood were sitting by the side of his driveway. I hope he did well with them.
Solar panels installed today...
The team finished about half an hour before the rains started... and the last thing you want to do is be on the roof of a house when a thunderstorm is impending and you're working on massive aluminum bus bars that are well-grounded to the house's electrical system.
The system has a little box that talks to the web to monitor the output and status of all 20 panels, as well as report on the output (current and cumulative power) of the system, which can be seen on smart phones, computers and whatever implants your have under your tinfoil hat.
Within a few hours, the system identified all 20 panels automatically and logged about 5kWh of output that afternoon before I pulled the main switch on it.
With some forms filled out for the power company, they should be out in a week or two to install the two-way power meter on the side of the house which will monitor the system output and log credits of kWh's that we don't use that are pumped back into the power grid.
Ding! Round 2 of Chemo today...
After a few stabbings, they finally got the needle into the port and started pumping. Feeling returned to my well-gripped hands just minutes later. Claudia may demand a rematch with that surgeon.
After "things settled down," I went to my favorite haircutter and had my lovely locks buzzed down to about an eighth of an inch in support of Miss Claudia impending billiard-ballery.
No, Not Yet...
(That's a cue ball, by the way, if you didn't recognize it...)
Chemo day was, again, quite good. Claudia spent most of the session watching a movie on her new iPad. I took a photo with my phone but it doesn't seem to have made it home yet. Love these new-fangled inventions!
We saw one woman who looked seriously familiar, but we couldn't place her. After the routine questions to determine where she lived, it turned out that she lives in the apartment complexes across Lake Lynn from us, but we seemed to have nothing else in common until Claudia asked if she shopped at the Harris Teeter supermarket a few miles from our respective locations. Now, my only nagging question is... why would she shop at the H/T near us when there's another one closer to her home?! Whatever... just another mystery.
Much like the half-hour or so conversation we had with a couple as we left the wig store last week, when we commented on their cute little dog. A shi-poo (or is that Shitz-Poo?) Just more life in this area.
She gets her customary next-day marrow-hyping shot Wednesday afternoon again, too. Looks like the chemo days are moved to Tuesdays. Less crowded and easier to get an appointment.
If Wednesday's weather is like Tuesday's, the solar guys might take a stab at installation in the morning. I've gotten some good nibbles on some items I've listed on Craig's List, too, so we should again be seeing a bunch of activity around the house for the next few days. Found some more stuff that might convert cubic space in the house to cash. Wish me luck. Arm is a bit better, too, though Claudia is more protective of it than I am. We're taking good care of each other, as it should be...
Ta-Daaaa... The Great Shedding has begun!
Miss Claudia has purchased two wigs (cranial prostheses, for "those in the know...") already, plus a cute hat. What started as a few hairs early in the week is now starting to look more like what she gets when she brushes one of the Golden Retrievers. I began to find that at least as startling as she did, especially when I see the results of the brushings in the waste can in the bathroom :( . She'll probably go for the "buzz-cut" within a week or so, and so will I, in support and sharing. (We do LOTS of things together.)
Both "prostheses" are similar in cut to the style she's chosen for her real hair for several years, so there should be no major shocks for people who've seen her before. She did turn down my suggestions for one or two "party style" wigs, though... (dammit). Oh, well, other fantasy lives will have to do.
We continued our support of turning the economy around by buying replacement for our aging clothes washer and dryer. Initially scheduled for delivery and installation Monday, for unknown reasons (as of yet), it looks like delivery has been pushed out to 6.02.
And, we're also now the proud owners of a new TV, as I did some mediocre troubleshooting of why there was no sound on the 42" upstairs screen. Had I tried one more test, I would have proven that the sound in the cable box had gone out, not the sound circuit in the TV. Whatever... I put the dryer up on Craig's List and will be donating it to a charity when the new ones arrive, and then the new 30" TV will replace the old clunky CRT-style unit in the guest bedroom. We try to run an up-to-date B&B, y'know.
The PV solar collectors were scheduled for installation Monday, but some thunderstorms delayed other jobs they were working on this week (go figure, right?) and now storms are forecast for early next week, so unless they can do it all Monday, that project will probably slide out to late next week, too.
Which is ok, too. While trying to lift the 42" back onto its customary place in the "blue room" upstairs, I lifted it wrong and it feels like I ripped a tendon or something in my right elbow. Tylenol and ice-packs and an Ace Bandage all seem to help, but there are just a few positions or directions which cause lots of pain if I'm not careful. No, I did not do that deliberately to get sympathy or get out of helping Claudia with some chores... I dislike pain as much or more than the next guy (or my wife does), and if it doesn't show signs of healing soon, I'll take it in for an x-ray or some other checkup. I'll have to see if I can do things in my workshop without creating pain. With Tylenol, the background pain is a "one or two" on the proverbial scale of ten, but one wrong move and I get a spike that's got to be in the 6-7 range, though just momentarily, thank goodness. And it obviously has not put much of a crimp in my typing...
Next Chemo is Tuesday morning, 5.22, with the follow-up shot Wednesday. Claudia's spirits are still high, even as she adjusts to the hair loss. But as she describes it, everyone seems to adjust to that hair loss in their own way. Some wail and cry; some go with the flow. "It's like how you enter a swimming pool. Some folks jump in; some get in slowly" (guys know about this...) Claudia's not the kind to do the teeth-gnashing route, and with the new head pieces, the transition should be pretty smooth, too. (and a very cute hat plus scarves plus a nice baseball-type cap, too.)
Claudia noticed some changes... some foods taste a little different, and wine is one of them. A week or so ago she discovered that "it doesn't taste good any more" and lost interest in her every-once-in-a-while glass of wine before dinner. Other foods have been just fine, and her appetite has been good and she's eating lots of healthy foods.
A week or so ago, she noticed that her hairbrush collected a few more strands than usual after a good brushing, but when I tug on her hair, all I get is "Ouch!" So it looks like she's not yet to the stage of losing her hair. She's learning to tie a head-scarf and bought a nice cap while waiting.
On the other hand, the CAT has begun to shed. Sympathetic symptomology?? No idea, but we're keeping an eye on him, too. Or maybe he's just pissed because I accidentally closed him into one of the upstairs rooms the other day for quite a few hours. Whatever.
Oh, and I got a copy of the Electric Company's approval to be part of their rebate program today, so we should be hearing from the installers soon.
Well, Wonder Woman is still doing darned well, all things considered.
A touch of nausea last week and one "I'm really tired" day earlier this week, neither of which were unexpected. Hair still all in place.
She'd voted early, last week; I got out on election day to vote... #845 at my location and quite a throng filing in and out. Unfortunately, for our votes, Amendment 1 passed in NC, but my prediction is that the tsunami of lawsuits can now begin. Nobody's going to iron this one out quickly...
Back to WW... we now have two little electronic thermometers at home. I bought a spare after WW's attempt at "cleaning" the one we had around. I won't say more than, after I got it dried out, it seemed to work again...
And on a completely different subject, which does fall in the "News" category, we're moving ahead with ordering and installing a photovoltaic solar panel array on our roof. Down payments have been made, initial evaluations of the house for electrical connection and panel location are done, and one next step is application for a rebate from the power company. That should be done in a week or two, and after that, installation will be scheduled. Let us know if you're interested in following in our footprints...
Chemo Day 1
In retrospect, one of the hardest parts was getting up early, again, to be there at 8:15 am or so ... Raleigh traffic signal timing sucks Big Time. How can they justify a minute or more of red-light "waiting" at surface street intersections?! I want that engineer sentenced to a full day of driving back and forth across a few choice intersections as punishment!
More nice nurses. Three on duty today: Chris, Chris and Christine. No problem calling for help or attention if you need it.
Extra recliners were available (i.e, unoccupied) so I got to do some serious napping, too.
Well, it's late evening now and Claudia has not had any nausea, although she took one medicine to forestall it, just in case. Good energy and spirits and we watched Grey's Anatomy off the DVR. I think that's a good sign, after watching House last night and laughing.
Tomorrow morning (and not as early, thank goodness...) is a follow-up shot to stimulate white blood cell production in her bones, as those little producers get discouraged from producing by the chemo, too. Possible "aching bones" expected, but at least they warn us about everything except impending hurricanes and earthquakes (none forecast right now...)
So far, surprisingly ok!
It's tough work, but somebody's got to keep up with their email...
Back to the Cancer Center for final clearance and instructions for starting chemo tomorrow (Thursday, the 3rd).
Blood test, review of the upcoming procedure and review of preparation for the first day of chemo. She passes all the memory tests and we shop some last minute meds plus groceries on the way home.
Claudia's pain is much lower this afternoon and evening and a wonderful neighbor and daughter gift us with dinner AND take two of the dogs for a walk! Wonderful neighborhood and neighbors.
And delicious dinner, too.
We catch up on some TV programs, and Claudia's spirits are so good that we watch the latest episode of "House" in which House's closest friend, an oncologist, decides to give himself a dangerous treatment for his own cancer (!) The closing scene is hilarious and we exit laughing hard.
Tomorrow, Thursday, is the first chemo day and will be a long one. Up early to arrive around 0830 with upwards of 4-5 hours of actual chemo drip. Her new iPad is charged up (Thanks, Vicki!) and between that and her phone and Kindle, she should be able to keep occupied during the procedure. Me? Newspaper, phone to read the latest news; maybe a magazine or two.
The journey continues into its next phase. Bon Voyage, us!
She enjoyed breakfast, too.
Another chest X-ray to make sure that she didn't have any more pneumothorax air hiding inside, and the surgeon arrived to remove the chest tube. I watched. Eeeeek! Hold your breath for as long as you can so that you don't gasp/inhale when he yanks out the tube. Much less painful than the insertion, though. One good tug and something over 8", by my estimate, of plastic tubing exits Claudia's side. Squeamish people: do not read previous descriptive sentences!
Back home for rest and sleep for her.
"And when you come to the fork in the road... take it..."
Yes, Monday was a long day.
Up at about 0500, a short panic attack before leaving home when Claudia couldn't find her insurance ID cards; arrived at the Rex Hospital about 0630, checked in (they didn't need the cards again... we WERE "in the computer."
Short operation to install the port, and under light anesthesia, Claudia's back awake and chipper quickly, but with a nasty pain around her left shoulder blade. They take an X-ray to verify correct positioning of the port.
Pain in her back continues, initial pain meds don't have much effect, and the surgeon is called back for a consult. He takes a close look at the X-ray and says, "What's that light patch over there?!"
Now, this DOES occasionally happen, and it's NOT a screw-up, so relax, all of you ... Once in a while a bit of air can get into the lungs' "cavity" from the port installation procedure, and it essentially "collapses" part of a lung. And that causes the kind of pain Claudia was experiencing.
I'm cleared out of the recovery room back to the waiting room and the surgeon quickly inserts a tube in her side to "vent the air out" along with any fluid (the red stuff) that might be there, too. THAT insertion elicited some LOUD squeaks from Claudia, and I'm glad I wasn't there to hear them. That pain, too, subsided fairly quickly.
But now they want to "keep her under observation" overnight... and that's NOT the same as "admitting her to the hospital" (probably affects the billing or costs or their stats somehow...) so they ring me up in the waiting room, give me her room number, and I find my way through the maze to the room (4007... sounds like a lucky number to me...)
She gets wheeled into the room, and we meet again! The room has A/C, cable, its own little bathroom (which I certainly appreciated by that time) and a bed that's got more controls on it than I could imagine. There's gotta be a five-figure tag on that puppy, and worth every penny.
Pain is diminishing, but not gone, so her nurse orders up a few Percocet and Claudia is cleared for takeoff on the next available runway.
Pain REALLY diminishes in a bit over half an hour and Claudia levels off at cruising altitude. Drowsy, but hungry, (both of us), we snack on sandwiches she'd prepared for us last night, and she gets some rest.
A few hours later she's hungry again and starts devouring the breakfast/lunch/dinner MENU in the room. Something like six pages or more of delicious-sounding descriptions. She orders a dinner for herself discovers that I can get a "guest dinner" but I need a paid voucher from the cafeteria. I trek off through THAT part of the maze to pay up. They've got some of the slowest public elevators in the visible universe. A volunteer waiting for a ride is visibly annoyed at the wait. We regular customers seem to take it in stride.
Dinners arrive and we munch happily, Claudia finds her lime salmon delicious, along with some of the green beans off MY plate, and I happily chow down on the turkey Reuben on my plate. After dinner, she catches up a few friends over the phone and later her son Brian comes in to visit on the way home from work... He works in Raleigh near downtown... or in downtown... wherever that really is.
I head home to feed the dogs and cat, who seem very concerned about "Where The Heck Has Mom Been For The Last 13 Hours?!"
So, now the forks in the road... Chemo was to have begun around noon Monday. That schedule is shot to hell. Tuesday morning, a confab with the Cancer Center folks will determine if the chemo starts some time Tuesday or... whenever soon. We assume they're not going to push the starting time very far. That's tomorrow's news and not available yet.
But basically, it's just a short detour or minor speed bump on the route; it just tossed the Monday schedule into a cocked hat.
Stay tuned to this channel for the next amusing episode!
And thanks to Larry for asking the question I really didn't answer...
"What's a "port"???" Here's my description...
A port is a means of permitting repeated needle-punctures for chemical infusion without the pain, danger and side effects of repeated "transfusion injections" along an arm. It's a small rubber/plastic object inserted under the skin, with a small cavity inside and a tube connected to it which is snaked, catheter-style into a vein to provide a way for chemicals to be put into the blood stream.
It sits in a fixed position just under the skin of one breast (the "other" breast, usually,) and becomes the location where the injection needle goes in for the chemo chemicals without the possible and likely damage to an arm vein that's otherwise repeatedly used. With repeated injections, the veins can suffer damage. The port minimizes venous damage, changing the injection to a "straight down through the skin" puncture, much better tolerated by the body.
After the chemo cycle is over, the port is removed. It appears as a small bump under the skin, which also makes it easy to find every time.
Sorry for the lack of updates, but it's been a busy time and some decisions came up that made the delay appropriate ... some of the "decision trees" started to look like a bowl of spaghetti, and I was losing track of the actual paths being offered or taken...
Yes, the background is pink now, for all the obvious reasons, and will stay pink for several months.
Yes, the lump was determined to be cancerous, although Stage 1 due to its small size and lack of invasiveness of any surrounding tissues.
The doctors described the cancer cells as being "angry" when viewed under a microscope. That's doc-speak for "they're not the nice kind that divide slowly and stay put." Nasty critters that might have sent emissaries around her body to check out new neighborhoods to set up shop.
That led to the conclusion that chemotherapy was appropriate and necessary. She starts that process Monday afternoon.
The reason for chemo in this situation is that some of those angry cells canvassing other neighborhoods can hide in all kinds of other places, so the idea is to send chemicals that stop the growth of any and all fast-growing cells anywhere around her body, giving her body's natural defenses a chance to hunt them down and kill them, too, or they just die of old age and the poison pills they're being given. Remember that part about "fast growing cells for later on...
But wait... there's more... of course. Claudia's hereditary background is "Eastern European Jewish," or "Ashkenazic." Like many cultures, tribes and peoples, some genetic traits became associated with people from that area, and one of them included a genotype that creates a tendency toward hereditary breast cancer. She's had that test started with a blood sample, but the results are a few weeks away and don't change the need to proceed with the chemo. The results of that genetic test may add another branch to the treatment "decision tree," but only after the chemo is done.
The chemo process became a bit of a decision-tree, too, since there are several ways to administer the treatment. The important thing to learn from this is that if anyone develops a cancerous tumor, their treatment and prognosis will, inevitably, be unique to them. Anyone who generalizes from anyone else's experience, treatment or expectations is being very foolish. "Your Mileage May Vary..."
There were even choices and decisions regarding the chemo itself. After evaluating options and consulting with the appropriate doctors, the chosen method will be an intravenous drip, administered every three weeks, for a total of six treatments... oh, goody... a glorious 15-week span, or maybe 18, but who's counting?
After the chemo, radiation treatments will be done on the tissues near where the lump was removed. There are even alternatives there, too... longer exposures at lower levels of radiation or shorter doses using radioactive pellets briefly introduced into the tissue and then removed. Even that choice depends on the location of the original tumor and its proximity to the chest wall. It appears, now, that the high-level "pellet-type" process will be used.
Which gets us back to the chemo. Rather than repeatedly stabbing the victim with a needle in their hand and then working their way up the arm to avoid damage to the veins, a "port" can be installed that lets one spot be used repeatedly for the introduction of the chemicals, with much less discomfort or damage to the body. No, not LAN port or HDMI or even USB... this "port" is implanted into the OTHER breast, just below the skin and will appear as a small bulge where the chemo needle will be inserted. A topical pain-killer lotion or salve will make the subsequent injections very easy. The port connects to a vein nearby that lets the chemicals diffuse into the bloodstream. The first treatment runs something like 4-5 hours (!) although subsequent times are shorter by an hour or more.
The port will be implanted Monday morning at some appropriately ungodly early hour in the morning, and then I'll drive her literally "across the street" to the Cancer Center for the chemo which will begin in the afternoon.
There's a follow-up injection on the Tuesdays of the chemo weeks and another checkup and blood test on Wednesday.
Oh, and reactions and symptoms after treatment? "Your Mileage May Vary." Although nausea is common, not everyone suffers from it, and several medicines are available to alleviate the feeling. Do NOT, PLEASE, send any illegal "gifts" to help us out there, ok? "Those" chemicals ARE available in legal, prescription, PILL form, and will be used if other treatments aren't effective. Thanks, anyway...
Hair loss? Yes, kids, some of the fastest growing cells in our bodies are the ones that push those hairs out of various parts of our bodies. So hair loss is normal and to be expected around the time of the second chemo treatment, or nearly a month from now. Claudia has a prescription for a "cranial prosthesis" (no, a WIG, not a metal plate for her head...) already, and recommendations for at least one reputable shop to visit. Tomorrow at the "Women's Home Fair" she's going to with some friends, they expect to visit several "cranial prosthesis vendors," too.
After the chemo, the port will be removed and if the "pellet-treatment" is still in the running, another device will be implanted in the breast where the lump was removed, and those treatments may be as often as twice a day for several weeks (only five days a week, though... doctors and breasts get the weekends off.)
And my joke about "well, it's better that I found the lump, rather than the next-door neighbor, mailman or pool boy..." became "The Pool Boy found it..." when telling the story. One of our neighbors, upon hearing that, remarked, "... but you don't have a pool!" To which Claudia reminded her, "you don't need a pool in order to have a "pool boy."
I'm looking for a t-shirt that say, "The Pool Boy Found It," or something like that. THAT gift would be accepted, and I usually take an XL and prefer short-sleeves. Maybe an image of a hand and... whatever...
Monday looks to be a very long day, too.
Today we go meet one of the "oncs"... oncology doctors. There's a "medonc" and a "chem-onc" each specializing in the medical side of oncology and the chemo side. The breast-specialist surgeon apparently is NOT called a "breast-spec-surg-onc" because he's a generalist and does not specialize in the oncology side... just breasts in general. A whole new lingo to learn...
Oh, and the "navigator" for the initial surgery got the "nav-onc" label from me. Claudia already has a new "onc" for the next phases.
More when we get home...
More Update ...
The aches and pains from the surgery have diminished to the point where Claudia's gone off the pain meds, so now she can drive again. To prove that, she went off to the supermarket this afternoon for some gift and card shopping, and tonight we're off to one of our favorite and closest Greek restaurants to celebrate a birthday!
Remember, she had a relatively non-intrusive surgery (or two, if you're counting scars) and it was nearly a week ago already. The bruising discoloration is starting to disappear and she reported the most pain and discomfort came from removing the adhesive tapes that held the protective bandages over the wounds!
And we don't even know what the chemo and/or radiation therapy regimen will be, when it will start or how long they may last. There are still a lot of variables in our future.
And the dinner was delicious and fun, catching up on some friends we hadn't seen in months and exchanging the usual raft of stories that humans exchange when they meet in groups of more than one.
Good News Update! ...
Rex Hospital called Tuesday afternoon ... !
Lab tests from the surgery were back already.
One tumor, approximately 1.8-cm diameter, removed from her right breast, with a good, clear margin around it for safety.
One lymph node removed from under her right arm: no cancer cells found!
This followed the earlier celebration in the morning when Claudia got up, dressed, went out the curb and brought in the newspaper, came back in, fed the dogs and cat and had a light breakfast.
Now, THAT's progress. Some pain is still there, but pain meds are keeping that in check quite successfully.
Wednesday is "permission granted day" to remove the external bandages and even shower! She's looking forward to that.
We've gotten dozens of wishes and prayers and supportive phone calls and emails from tons of friends and relatives, and Claudia has felt the warmth and love and support from everyone who's written, called, sent flowers (Thanks, NRGRR!) and offered to bring dinner to celebrate her good news and continuing recovery.
We won't know about chemo or radiation treatments for another week or more, and I'll post that info here when it hits the media wires.
We still get laughs from folks who find it funny (amusing) that I found the tumor initially... "Well, at least it wasn't discovered by the postman, milkman or pool boy!" I love to add...
Well, that was one HELL of a LONG DAY.
Up at 0430, at the hospital at 0530; meet sleepy, grumpy nurse as we leave parking garage to go to Registration. (She turns up later in one of the recovery areas, full of coffee and much more chipper.)
Sign in, fill in paperwork and go to waiting room area. Sit for 40 minutes. Open newspaper to read; immediately called by ex-sleepy nurse to go to pre-op area.
Meet "Navigator" person who will follow Claudia through nearly every step of the procedure, from first checkups to recovery and ready-to-go-home. She knows everyone and everything and is a bright, bubbly personality. A joy to have her as Navigator. Oh, and her name ... get this ... is Jeanne Poole. Think about that a second or two ...
0715 - Stripped, gowned and hooked to saline IV drip. 0800: a dozen nurses each do their part of the checking and staging operation, asking the same questions just in case Claudia changed her name, SocSec number or tried to get me to take her place in line ...
0815: first happy-juice: a shot in the dark (butt); takes effect quickly; Chinese-ancestry nurse from NYC with NO NY OR NC accent suggests that I "give her some sugar" before she's wheeled away. I do triple-take on THAT combination, realize what she meant, and kiss Claudia farewell; at 0825, she's off to OR and I'm back in the waiting room.
0910 - 0950 ... Well-named "Waiting Room" ... [yawn]
0955: surgeon arrives to tell me that the operation went fine, she should be awake soon and I'll be called back to the recovery area.
1015, 1020, 1030, 1100 ... Jeanne shows up to say "Claudia's still groggy but should need another 20 minutes or so."
1120, 1130 ... SOBER UP, WOMAN!
TWO THIRTY PM ... Claudia is finally able to complete sentences without dozing off in the middle of them. She's dressed, and I retrieve the car from the parking garage and we head for home. Pain isn't bad, she says, but sentences don't always complete on time. We pour her into bed and she starts a delicious nap. I make myself breakfast and nap with her.
6-7 PM ... I made her some broth, she's been on the phone for an hour or more catching people up and checking voicemails. Pain killer is wearing off, so she takes another pill. Sentences stop running to completion and eyelids start drooping and she's napping again. I feed the dogs and cat and head upstairs to send emails.
Thanks to all of you who wrote, phoned, emailed and offered food! : It'll be several days before we know what the rest of the treatment regimen will be ... probably a combination of chemo and radiation, judging from the results of tests that were done pre-op.
Now, I need a nap, too.
Well, a little over a month ago, I discovered a small lump in Claudia's right breast.
She loves to point that out to see the response from the folks she's telling it to...
A mammogram, sonogram and biopsy confirmed that the lump is cancerous, and she's scheduled to have the lump removed on Monday, April 9, at Rex Hospital in Raleigh.
Our spirits are high and optimism abounds for a successful surgery and recovery. It's also been surprising how many people have responded with "so did I!" or "yeah, and I know someone else who..."
After surgery, it looks like radiation treatments and chemotherapy will be done for some number of weeks, so our schedule will be a bit cluttered by twice-daily commutes to the hospital for some of the treatments.
We're also bracing for an influx of casseroles and pots of chicken soup, which will not be refused, as refrigerator or freezer-space allows, since I'm not the most enthusiastic chef in the house and a pizza-and-chocolate diet has not been approved by the medical staff. (for her, at least, and is apparently frowned-upon by my GP. I checked with him on that some time ago.
I'll try to keep all y'all updated as often as possible. Love and hugs back to you all, too.
Hey, it's been a while, eh?
Claudia's getting more and more used to her Prius, though she still hasn't figured out the Sirius Radio... they'll explain that when she takes it in for its first checkup at 5,000 miles... we hope.
We went to the Home Show at the Raleigh Convention Center back on the 3rd of March and saw several interesting items we'd like to consider for our house. I was interested in a Flash Boiler to replace our regular tank-type hot water heater. Even though gas prices are down now, who knows what may happen in the future, and I've never loved the idea of pilot lights burning gas all the time just so they can light the fire when needed. With a backup generator, it's ok to go to electronic ignition, because if the electricity and the gas supplies both go out at once, I figure we're in deep yogurt by that time anyway!
So we engaged one company for an estimate and it was delivered. It seemed to have LOTS of add-on's and extra fees and potential costs, way beyond a turnkey installation, so when they sent the estimate and never called back, I've put them on a ... damn ... back burner for a while. Sorry.
Another one we considered was for resurfacing our master bathroom sinks which have had, even prior to our ownership, some rough treatment. So, today the sales/installation guy called to say he was coming over. He'd given me an estimate a week or so after the Show but then went silent. Turns out, they had something in excess of four dozen inquiries, leads AND contracts come out of that show, so they were a little behind on things. We forgave him, chose a color and finish, and lo and behold, they could start installation tomorrow around 9:30 am!
We accepted, and cleared the counter tops for the invasion tomorrow morning. I'll even roll out of bed some ungodly number of hours earlier than usual so I'm not in the way.
The next Home Show will be at the State Fairgrounds in a month or so, where I'll pursue one or two other pet projects: solar-electric collectors for the house, a waste-water recycling unit that takes "gray water" from showers and sinks, shoots some chlorine into it to kill bacteria, and then pumps it up to be available to the toilets in the house. That should be able to fit into the crawl space under the house with little problem.
Of course, my next "ultimate upgrade" is a large cistern somewhere in the back yard, buried, of course, and sized to collect rainwater runoff from the house and the little play house and then pressurize it for use for the lawn and plant sprinklers and irrigation.
I'd inquired of the local water company, and I was right... they charge a sewer service based on how much water flows INTO the house, irrespective of whether it flows back out to the sewer system or gets sprayed onto your lawn. The sewer charges for that lawn-watering can run to hundreds of dollars per year! I think the payback on having the City install a second water meter for irrigation-only consumption may pay itself off quickly. And then cover the expense of creating the backup system using the cistern. All of the down spouts from the main house are already fairly well connected to all flow out one pipe in the back yard near where the cistern would go.
Ya can't take it with ya, y'know...