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What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?

Nancy Wilson - What Are You Doing New Year's Eve

Maybe it's much too early in the game
Ah, but I thought I'd ask you just the same
What are you doing New Year's
New Year's Eve?

Wonder whose arms will hold you good and tight
When it's exactly twelve o'clock that night
Welcoming in the New Year
New Year's Eve

Maybe I'm crazy to suppose
I'd ever be the one you chose
Out of a thousand invitations
You'd receive

Ah, but in case I stand one little chance
Here comes the jackpot question in advance
What are you doing New Year's
New Year's Eve?

Wonder whose arms will hold you good and tight
When it's exactly twelve o'clock that night
Welcoming in the New Year
New Year's Eve

What are you doing New Year's Eve?

The Meaning of Christmas

Book: This is Your Brain on Music by Daniel J. Levitin

Music: Manassas by Manassas (Stephen Stills, Chris Hillman)

Endless Love

As we approach 2008, we look back on one of 2007's enduring relationships...



Book: This Is Your Brain on Music by Daniel J. Levitin

Music: Their Satanic Majesties Request by The Rolling Stones

Merry Christmas!

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Merry Christmas from John and Maryse (and Philippe, Megan and Matt)

Procrastination

Saw this on the eBaum website, http://www.ebaumsworld.com/pictures/view/62720/, and loved it. Its a "demotivational" poster. Kind of made me think of me and the infrequency of my posts.

I'm doing well; feeling good; looking forward to the holidays and family get-togethers. Maryse's mom, brother and nephew are all here now. Pierce is enjoying all the snow before we get all that rain Sunday.

Next week we're off to Maryse's cousin's for a Pesant/Trudel Christmas.

The following week Megan, Selo, Miko and Matt are all expected, for the Bray version, New Year's Day.

Life is good; the weather forecast: so-so.


Book: This Is Your Brain On Music by Daniel J. Levitin
Music: Wintersong by Sarah McLachlan

What a Difference a Day Makes

24 hours after yesterday's post, the wintery view of the backyard has changed somewhat. The Ottawa area got about 40 cm of snow - while quite the wallop it was still less than had been forecast.

Snow, Snow, Snow

The big storm that blanketed the American eastern states has blown into the Ottawa area this morning. The forecast calls for between 40 and 65 cm of snow before all is done Monday morning. Before the storm they were saying the area has already received more snow to date than by March last year. And it isn't even officially winter yet!

I guess all we can do is get the tree in...
Light a fire...And sit back and watch New England extend their winning streak!

Music: Christmas is Calling by Roch VoisineBook: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Another Busy Week

My first trip out, other than to the hospital, occured Wednesday this week when Maryse and I drove out to Megan's for dinner. We spent some quality time with Miko before he went to bed, had dinner with Megan, and got a chance to chat with new, big, flat screen TV-owner Selo after he got home from work. It was a most enjoyable evening. We got home around 10:30, well past my nightly bedtime of 8:00.
I was a little tired the next day, but not too tired to welcome Matt for dinner and a visit Thursday evening. While we talk or text fairly regularly we hadn't seen each other since Meg's wedding in September. It was great to see him.
Seeing both Meg and Matt this week also allowed us to nail down holiday plans. I'm really looking forward to having them over for New Year's Day dinner.
Maryse's mom arrives tonight from Kelowna for a holiday visit. Philippe joins us briefly from Montreal. And then Jean-Marc and BooBoo arrive next week. Then we're off to Montreal for a …

Computer Comics

My friend Alec e-mailed me a bunch of these. These 4 are among the funniest...








Book: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini Music: Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers by Gene Clark

Latest Visit to the Clinic

I visited the folks at the Bone Marrow Transplant Clinic at the Ottawa General Hospital this morning at 9am. Things went swimmingly.

Doctor Anstee's very pleased with how I'm eating, how I'm drinking, how I'm peeing, my energy levels and so on. She says my bloodwork shows I'm slightly anemic (funny looking word) but since I'm not tired and have a good energy level they're not worried.

My next appointment isn't until early in the new year, and after that I'm being transferred to the Multiple Myeloma Clinic - somewhat of a graduation, says the doctor!

She again cautioned that the transplant hasn't rid me 100% of the multiple myeloma, but that it has reduced it significantly according to my creatinin levels. They'll have a better handle on this once they start monitoring my myeloma in 2008.

Nevertheless, I'm feeling great - better than before the transplant, and certainly just after - and the doctors are very pleased I'm feeling great.

Mayb…

In Training

Mid-October and the immediate after-effects of the bone marrow transplant seem like such a distant memory now (thankfully).

I feel so much better as Christmas approaches.


And I'm getting back to my old habits: reading, music (both listening and buying - gotta love Amazon.ca!), surfing (the internet), blogging and so on.





And just when I was getting tired and bored with daytime TV, along comes the Mulroney-Schreiber affair. There's nothing quite like a good political scandal to keep an old political junkie entertained.

My taste in food is getting more and more varied: french toast for breakfast; hot dogs for lunch; and real dinners like chicken, potatoes and vegetables. Well, of course I still like tuna salad sandwiches, too!

I've gotta work myself up to a Christmas dinner of turkey and all the trimmings. It's like I'm in training.

Book: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Music: The Last of the Red Hot Burritos by The Flying Burrito Brothers

Week of Firsts

You know there's nothing quite like recovering from an illness that knocks you flat that makes you think about your mortality and about little things that others take for granted that you relearn or develop the strength to do for the first time. As I begin to regain my strength, this was really a week for that kind of reflection and that kind of development. Some really simple things occured this week. Simple for you, maybe, but for me somewhat momentous.


First I had visitors! Yep, Megan and Mikayel came by. Second, they brought me lunch: a loaded down six inch submarine sandwhich with vegetables! (Another first!) Lettuce, tomato and pickle garnished this delicious turkey submarine sandwich.






Third, today I had my first shower since mid-October. What a joy. Lest you think I haven't been washing, because of my lack of strength I couldn't stand very long so I've been taking baths. But it's just not the same. I know you'll laugh but you just never know how much you&…

Better and Better

It was a positive trip to the Bone Marrow Transplant clinic yesterday, all-round. First, I didn't need a wheelchair, and I felt pretty good after the walk from the hospital entrance to the clinic. (And the walk back to the car for that matter.) Next, the doctor told me how pleased she was with my progress, especially my blood work. Then she told me not to come back for 2 weeks. Yay, a holiday next week!


She also said that come the new year, they'd likely transfer me to the Multiple Myeloma clinic (same location but Wednesdays instead of Fridays) where they'd probably monitor me every month to month and-a-half. This means they're pretty much through monitoring my progress post transplant and are now interested in ensuring the myeloma is gone. She's very pleased I no longer have any hip and leg pain and says this is an excellent sign in terms of the results of the procedure.


She does say, too, that this doesn't necesarily count as a cure; that it could be more of a…

Winter Wonderland

Surprise, surprise, Christmas has come early here in Aylmer! What was forecast early in the week as the possibility of some light snow late in the week actually arrived mid-week with a bang. Now we can expect 15-20 cm by Friday. Amazing.

I still don't have enough strength to go wandering around outside so these pictures are taken from inside the house.On the food front, I've worked myself up to toast and peanut butter for breakfast every morning. And a sure sign my appetite is returning is the fact I had french fries for dinner last night. In another week maybe a cheeseburger!

A Positive Sign

I visited my kidney specialist this morning, the first time since June. He was very happy with my bloodwork results from the hospital, calling them a vast improvement since the last time he saw me. Back then my kidneys were functioning at around 30 per cent. Today, he was pleased to tell me they're up to 66 per cent. Wow, that's some reversal!

On the food front, I've actually graduated to sandwiches and I have an appetite - compared to a week or so ago when I really had to force myself to eat. My favourite is a tuna salad sandwich.
Things appear on the up and up! Next step: appointment at the Bone Marrow Transplant clinic on Friday.

Couch Boy

That's pretty much what I've been since my transplant. It may sound funny but I feel kinda weak when I'm walking around the house, however as I spend more time on the couch I feel myself getting stronger. Yep, I've been feeling noticeably better; actually started to eat solid food - I had a small bowl of tuna salad for lunch yesterday; the first solid food I've had since my transplant October 11.

I've lost a lot of weight and all my hair but I feel myself coming back and it really instills optimism, believe me.

Last Friday I had my appointment at the Bone Marrow Transplant Clinic. It was a good and a bad day. First why it was good: the head doctor was very pleased with my blood results, calling them "amazing". It'll still be awhile before they know the true effect on my myeloma, but in terms of recovery from the procedure I'm in the upper percentile. Why it was bad: I'm still rather weak so getting myself all dresssed up and trudging out to …

Over the Hump

Did someone get the number of that truck? The one that ran me over, backed up and did it again?

Wow, it's been an interesting several weeks. Daily hospital visits that stretch to 4-5 hours. Several extended hospital stays to deal with infection.

For awhile there it seemed like I was caught in an endless downward sprial. But I'm happy to say I'm home now, making less frequent hospital visits and feeling much, much better.

I have a ways to go yet to build up my strength and work on my appetite, but I'm just so happy to have turned the corner. And soon maybe I'll start reading again and listening to music!

An Update

Well we're mid-way through the week and 2 days into daily visits to the hospital. Yesterday I got my PICC line installed (see site at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PICC_line which briefly explains) and my high dose chemo through my spanking new PICC line. All in all spent about 6 hours at the hospital. I'm back on anti-naseua drugs, including dexamethasone, but this drug also gives me insomnia - so I slept poorly last night - and high blood sugur - so my levels have been high since I started checking yesterday and I'm back on the sliding scale of insulin.

While Maryse and I have agreed to take a day-to-day approach to all this, we already know the long-term side-effects. Actually, the long-term begins in the short-term: the next 5-10 days. The Pharmacist at the hospital tells us that's when the fun begins: naseua (at both ends!) fatigue and perhaps infection. So there's lots of anti-naseua and anti-infection drugs and gargling 3 times a day with salt-water. Beyond 1…

The Big Day is Coming

Yesterday Maryse and I went to the Bone Marrow Transplant Clinic at the General Hospital and learned what's in store for me next week and beyond.

It all starts next Tuesday at 8am when we go to Admitting. I'm not entering the hospital next week, but will likely have to at some point in the future, as early as a week later due to fever or infection.

Next I'll have a PICC line installed (peripherally inserted central catheter) in my arm. PICCs can remain in your arm for between 6 months and a year and facilitate intravenous chemo and other medications as well as the taking of blood samples. This seems the better route to go than regular short intravenous needles each time I need to provide a blood sample, given that I'll be visiting the hospital on a daily basis at the outset, then 2-3 times a week, once weekly and finally once monthly.

After the PICC is installed I receive my last and highest dose of chemo - a drug called Melphalan. In clearing out any remaining cancer ce…

About Face

Yeah, how about that face! I really have one under that beard. It got to the point my hair was falling out so much - both on the top of my head and my face - that I got tired of waking up with a mouth full of hair in the morning - blecchhh! So here's the new me...

Thursday I'm off to the hospital to find out more about next week's chemo and stem cell infusion. So I'll share more info after that.



Book: The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories by H.P. Lovecraft

Music: Yellowjacket by Stephen Fearing

The Parrot

So there's this man with a parrot. And his parrot swears like a sailor, I mean he's a pistol. He can swear for five minutes straight without repeating himself. The trouble is that the guy who owns the parrot is a quiet, conservative type, and this bird's foul mouth is driving him crazy.

One day, it gets to be too much, so the guy grabs the bird by the throat, shakes him really hard, and yells, "QUIT IT!" But this just makes the bird mad and he swears more than ever. Then the guy gets mad and says, "That's it. I'll get you." and locks the bird in a kitchen cabinet. This really aggravates the bird and he claws and scratches, and when the guy finally lets him out, the bird cuts loose with a stream of invective that would make a veteran sailor blush. At that point, the guy is so mad that he throws the bird into the freezer.

For the first few seconds, there is a terrible din. The bird kicks and claws and thrashes. Then it suddenly goes very quiet. At f…

Peripheral Blood Progenitor Cell Collection

Try saying that five times, quickly! Otherwise known as stem cell harvesting, the procedure took place yesterday. I arrived at the hospital at 7:30. And by the time I was done it was 3pm. The procedure involves a retreive needle being inserted into one arm from the stem cell harvesting machine and a return needle from the machine being insterted into the other arm. This means you can't move...for six hours! The worst aspect of all of this? As you lie there in a hospital bed, unable to move your arms for 6 hours, you better not have to go pee! The second worst aspect? The inability to scratch! I experienced both these aspects!!!

My next trip back to the hospital is for a clinic appointment October 4. Then I get a PICC line implanted the following week, October 10, with the actual stem cell infusion taking place Thursday, October 11.



There's an excellent, informative site that I found from the Mayo Clinic at http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stem-cell-transplant/CA00067 that takes…

Hemoglobin

Well one of the possible effects of my chemo drug is a drop in my hemoglobin. And, indeed mine dropped, increasing my anemia. My levels dropped from 98 yesterday to 86 today. Normal hemoglobin levels are between 120 and 160. So it's back to the hospital tomorrow for a transfusion - 2 units of blood over 4 hours. This morning's 4 hour hydration session came off without a hitch.

Guess who showed up to drive me home - Maryse! Fresh from a day's (and red-eye) flight from Yellowknife via Calgary and Toronto. What a trooper (and sweetie!).

The days immediately following the chemo are fairly routine, save for the possibility of nausea. However, the time period I'm apparently most at risk of complications is when my white cells start to decrease significantly. This starts several days after chemo and continues for about 10-14 days. It is during this period that I may be more susceptible to infections and fever.

Book: The Way It Works - Inside Ottawa by Eddie Goldenberg

Music: The …

Cyclophosphamide

Here's what I did from 7:30 to 12:30 today. Apart from putting a good dent in my book, I underwent a marathon chemo session. Cyclophosphamide is a chemotherapy agent that is used to clear the body of unwanted cancer cells. It also mobilizes stem cells from the bone marrow into the blood. Effects include anemia (low hemoglobin). Side effects may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, skin rash and hair loss. The last time around, on the V.A.D. chemo, I only lost my hair (damn, it was just starting to grow in!), so I'll keep my fingers crossed that that's all that happens. This chemo treatment can cause damage to the lining of the bladder so drinking and peeing hourly for 36 hours is a must.

The next step, after several days off, is six to seven days of a self-injected marrow growth hormone (sounds like Barry Bonds!). Neupogen will apparently help the stem cells grow and after about 10 days the stem cells will be collected and frozen.

During this time I'll undergo high dose c…

CHEMO RESUMES

I spent 2 hours at the hospital today getting updated on the next steps towards my stem cell transplant. The next step starts tomorrow with a 4 hour chemo session, apparently, beginning at 7:30am. The doctor wrote a multitude of prescriptions, largely of an anti-nausea variety, which I picked up on my way home.

I'm back at the hospital again Saturday for a 4 hour "hydration" session, then after several days of "recuperation" I take a self-injected drug for 6 days prior to stem cell collection September 18th.

Complicating my hospital visits is the fact the province took away my drivers license. They say that my "doses of medication used and (my) general condition constitutes a hazard for road safety." With Maryse out of town this week, Megan was kind enough to take me today. Tomorrow and Saturday I'll be cabbing it.

I've yet to learn what's involved in the post-collection phase, but will pass the information along when I do.

Book: The Way It Wo…

Wedding Day Pt II - Oddities

Here are some of the odder or funnier pictures from the days leading up to, as well as the day itself....

"Back in Black" How Megan and her Dad really wanted to dress for the wedding... Oh my God, get those two apart, quick... (why do they look so happy?) John gets in touch with his softer side...
Here John turns the other cheek... Ben photographs the photographer... "Take my picture, take my picture""Don't take my picture" "He said don't take his picture 'Stupid'"Selo, wake up and get moving with that Shawarma...
What is it with sleepy relatives?
They start young in the Bray family!
14 Animal Crackers later..."hrmphgrmphns"

It really was a fun day...

Book: The Way It Works - Inside Ottawa by Eddie Goldenberg
Music: Hymns of the 49th Parallel by k.d. lang

Wedding Day

Well, September 2nd has come and gone. And my baby is now married! What a wonderful day it was, weather-wise and sentimental-wise. Here's the beautiful bride, Megan, and her step-daughters Layla and Mimi...

Mikayil, named in honour of my first born, Michael, was all set for the happenings...

And here's mother, Rosemarie, and brother, Matthew, with the bride...
Mother and father, yours truly, of the bride...
Father and step-mother (Maryse) of the bride...
Here's father walking his daughter down the aisle...
Cousins Heather and Karen provide some inspirational music...

Bride Megan and Groom Selo kiss...
After the ceremony came the reception. Uncle Steve and Aunt Laurie posed for photographer Philippe...

As did Uncle Jim and Aunt Lucille...Philippe caught Selo's parents Arslan and Sfure and sister Aysegul in a pose...Here's two of Megan's Aunts, Jean and Laurie...Megan's Dad and cousin Ben...Selo's dad Arslan and son Miko relax...Maryse and Jim look very happy in t…