Tuesday, August 24, 2010


I'm in Idaho right now and, true to form, Spackle has again been somewhat mirroring my own medical issues—in this case the procedure even had the same name. My lumpectomy was 11 years ago, of course, and took out a malignant tumor and his was yesterday and took out two benign cysts, but nevertheless. Like mother, like dog.

Read about it here.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Who Are We to Say the Universe Nay?

So, travel and cancer, cancer and travel. Travel, for the next several months, really seems to be taking the upper hand. We've got a couple of local weekends away coming up—Ian to a bachelor party in the woods this weekend, and me to Idaho for an almost-week of summer riding and helping out while K&A are home. I'm leaving the dogs when I come back, at Doggy Heaven on Earth II (DHoEI being Mom and Marsh's place, OF COURSE), where K&A have kindly agreed to look after them whilst Ian and I fulfill several non-dog-friendly weekends.

The first weekend back from Idaho/the woods we're going to Orcas to spray for tansy ragwort in our pasture—a noxious weed that kills livestock but enjoys boundless growth itself. It can be eradicated by being dug up by the roots and burned, but the ground is hard and dry now, and this would be backbreaking work. An island neighbor, who has mowed and hayed much of our land for the last couple years (charging us nothing and taking the hay—a perfect trade, from our perspective), discovered the infestation and is going to help us kill it. She explained that she tries to lead a mostly organic life herself and would, on her own place, prefer to catch tansy in the spring and dig it up—and indeed, she did try to dig up a lot of ours, for hours—but she also said that there are times when it's better to use chemicals. I explained that I understand completely—sometimes, the organic, natural way is best and works well—sometimes, however, you need chemotherapy. She laughed with me—that's exactly right. So the last weekend this month we're going up to Orcas to camp and administer chemotherapy to our giant pasture (if there's an infestation near the campsite, we'll do that part last, after we've packed up and are ready for home); we didn't think it would be such a good idea to administer chemotherapy to our dogs.

The following weekend we'll be on Mt Rainier attending a wedding of dear friends; the following weekend we're going to Austin for four nights, to meet a baby who was born in April. I believe we have nothing planned but a big holing-up-at-home-and-hiding-from-the-world crash the following weekend . . . oops--and an important birthday celebration . . . and the weekend after that we're spending 3 nights on Orcas, this time for a wedding of more dear friends. That takes us through September.

The first weekend in October I'm going back to Idaho to resume command/responsibility for my dogs, and then K&A are taking off on a fall tour of NYC and Europe, and so I'll remain in Idaho until 14 Oct. I would've stayed longer, because K&A will be gone longer, but THIS JUST IN: IAN'S JOB TOTALLY ROCKS. He's been invited to some sort of conference or something in the Seychelles. AND WE ARE GOING. The plan right now is to leave Idaho on 14 Oct at 5am, stop at Doggy Heaven on Earth I and leave the dogs and hitch a ride to the airport, meet Ian there, and then be gone until the 29th. I'm sure none of you are following my Herceptin schedule quite so closely as I do, but this is going to interfere. HA! Travel 1, Cancer 0.

Then, of course, is a trip you've heard about: 10 Nov to 2 Dec in Australia and New Zealand (should be able to work cancer around that trip, with a little poking and prodding of schedules).

In January, we're spending a week in a beach house on the Kona Coast with Ian's family, and yesterday he was invited to attend a conference in Honolulu in February. This time, I told him he could go without me.

And then, in March, we're going to Kenya (which will also interfere with Herceptin: Travel 2, Cancer 0).

Bring it on!

Monday, August 16, 2010


I had an eye doctor appointment today, which is generally mildly uncomfortable, because I usually get my eye dilated—just the right one—which throws off my stomach just a little, in addition to making me look alarmingly crazed to the casual observer. My stomach wasn't so bad today because I'd just had my morning Xeloda, and my morning Compazine. The Compazine, much to my pleasure, acted as a catch-all and I didn't get sick.

I've been noticing lately that my eyesight hasn't been changing all that much—i.e. is not getting better. With all the drops and the needle to the eyeball last year, the fluid issue should've been dying down by now, and it's not. And so I got to experience again the test where they can determine where, in my eyeball, my capillaries are leaking, because they clearly are.

This test, given while my eye is still dilated and therefore most likely to hurt when klieg lights are shined in it, involves taking some brilliantly flashing pictures while I'm doing my best to stare at a blinking red light with my left eye—then they inject me with a fluorescent yellow dye (in my arm) and immediately take the pictures again and then they wait 15 seconds and take them again. And then they wait a minute and take them again. At this point, I'm sweating fluorescent yellow like those disgusting Gatorade ads.

Anyway, Dr Meyers-Powell, who sees a lot of patients in a day and is good at making quick decisions, thought that the best thing for me would be a minor laser surgery that I could have right then, or Thursday or Friday. Well, I was there already, my eye was dilated and I was uncomfortable already, and Thursday is already pretty full of clinic, and Friday is riding day and I'm obviously NOT missing that, and I, too, am good at making quick decisions and so I said yes.

Ten minutes later I was sitting with my chin in yet another cup and my forehead pressed against yet another curved bar, my eyes bugged open as wide as I could hold them, getting an EVEN MORE INTENSE light shot into my eye.

It feels a bit hot to me right now, the right eye—but then, I am hypersensitive to any unusual body sensation and so, I'm guessing it's to be expected.

Anyway, I have renewed hope that I will, someday, be able to see normally from this eye again.

Whatever normal means.

Monday, August 2, 2010

When Do You Have the Time?

I received an email from a dear aunt the other day, who had just spent much time catching up on my blog. "Calin," she wrote to me, "How do you have time for cancer with all the travel you're doing?"

Excellent question.

I mean, it really got me thinking about the nature of busy-ness in our lives, and what we make time for, and what we don't, and how much that really affects the experiences and events that we take part in. Cancer certainly has not presented itself as a choice—something that I can consider and, then, when I've had a few days to think about it, either accept it or reject it—it does seem to have been thrust upon me. But maybe there's a level of life and living that I haven't figured out how to reach yet (and maybe can't in human form), where all experiences are choices? Maybe, in fact, I already have chosen cancer, and travel, and the only reason I have time for both is that I've really planned it that way.

Back in the metalife, before I incarnated here to this base reality of incomparable physical experiences (if you believe in such things)—joys and vertigos and agonies, exhaustion and supreme, utter peace and energy and vigor, maybe I chose cancer and travel as the two best ways to live my life to its extremes. And so I have time, because there is time. There's always time.

But then again, sometimes there's time because I refuse to let an schedule—self-imposed or externally-imposed—completely dictate my personal events. For the most part with my travel, I do hold myself to the three-week cycle that my Herceptin schedule has me on . . . but not all the time. For our trip to Kenya next spring, I am going to miss an infusion. And it's not going to kill me. And it's going to allow me to see Giraffes! With their heads in my bedroom window! And the Indian Ocean and mangrove forests! And misty mountains covered with tea plants!

And so, I guess the answer is, I have the time whenever I want it, or whenever I need it. The jigsaw puzzle of my hours might be more complicated than some, with 1,000 pieces instead of 350, or the handmade, Stave version of a puzzle with lots of gaps cut into the intricate connections, just in case the classic approach of things fitting tightly together is somehow unsatisfying.

My life is certainly not unsatisfying.