Friday, 21 September 2007

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 first the guy just waits, but then he starts to think that the bird may be hurt. After a couple of minutes of silence, he's so worried that he opens up the freezer door. The bird calmly climbs onto the man's outstretched arm and says, "Awfully sorry about the trouble I gave you. I'll do my best to improve my vocabulary from now on." The man is astounded. He can't understand the transformation that has come over the parrot. Then the parrot says, "By the way, what did the chicken do?"

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

Music: The Gift - A Tribute to Ian Tyson by Various Artists

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

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 you through the whole process. It may be a bit much to read but it makes the whole process I'm going through very clear and understandable.

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

Music: Trout Mask Replica by Captain Beefheart

Saturday, 8 September 2007

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 Best of Talking Heads by Talking Heads

Friday, 7 September 2007

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 chemo, after which the stem cells will be thawed and then reinfused. Sounds simple, eh? Ha!

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

Music: It's Not Big It's Large by Lyle Lovett and his Large Band

Thursday, 6 September 2007

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 Works - Inside Ottawa by Eddie Goldenberg

Music: Lifeline by Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

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

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

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 the sunshine...

Megan's Father and Mother speak before dinner...

The beautiful bride strikes a pose near the end of the evening...

And her father catches his breath...

Thanks to Philippe for acting as photographer!

Book: Fear and Lothing: On the Campaign Trail '72 by Hunter S. Thompson

Music: Upfront and Down Low by Teddy Thompson

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Wedding Day Countdown

Well, one day to go to that magical day - Megan and Selo's wedding. Yesterday we held the rehearsal - in the midst of the chairs arriving, the Johnny-on -the Spots being set up and the tent getting organized...

And Miko, Layla and Mimi had a great time doing what kids do while the adults practised their lines and activities...

And then it was off to Cyranno's, Meg and Selo's restaurant, for dinner...

Steve, Rosemarie, Miko and Megan

Megan's cousin Karen, Megan and Grampa

A hungry-looking Mikayil...

Mimi, Megan's cousin Heather, Layla...

Guess who enjoyed their dinner!

Book: Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72 by Hunter S. Thompson

Music: Trouble by Ray Lamontagne

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