Thursday, 30 August 2012

Slathered!


I am happily slathered with my friend Magda's herbal salves. 

This is an unabashed promotional post. I have no commercial interest in this product. It is just really good stuff from a friend's micro-business. More people should know about it.

My broken leg is slathered in Liniment. It is thanking me for saving it pain, preventing inflammation and and speeding up healing. 

I have used this product before when I had a broken ankle, after the cast came off and I was supposed to go back to work. In the morning I would limp into the shower, in pain. I'd apply the liniment and the pain would stop instantly. The ankle stayed pain-free for most of the day, and I was working on my feet as a Home Support Worker. If pain recurred by late afternoon another application would take care of it.

My belly scar has been slathered in healing skin salve. It looked less red and angry almost overnight. Now that the bandages are off the right arm it can get a slathering as well, to speed up final healing and minimize scarring. I also use this salve as a lip balm in winter. 

My favorite stories about this amazing product are no longer on the web site, perhaps for legal reasons, or to keep it simple? Anyway.....this is not an official place so I don't think anyone can sue me if I mention the mother whose C section incision had refused to fully close for 2 miserable years, until this salve took care of it. She was so grateful she paid for a year of advertising in the small magazine where she had found the salve.

Keep some handy. You will thank me.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Steps forward, steps back....

The good news: I have been spending some time on my hind legs. I can get onto the porch and back using the brace and the walker. We removed the small steep ramp that went from porch into dwelling. Yesterday I ripped out the gone-to-seed greens in one planter that hangs from the porch railing. Today after a bit more rest I plan to add some worm castings to the dried out depleted soil mix and seed a mesclun mix. 
Yeah me! 

I had been so good at keeping a continuous salad supply going, but alas, that all fell by the way side. Hmm. Wonder if I can bill ICBC for weekly bags of farmers market greens. Just kidding. The Insurance Company of B.C., a Crown Corporation, has been very supportive and generous so far.

Other people may have had different experiences but mine has been good. I was warned that 'they' would try to rush me into a settlement for the leg injury, but the insurance adjuster herself told us to wait a year and a half, because it takes that long to evaluate the long term impact of tibial plateau fracture. 

In return I am being scrupulously honest. No, I did not lose income as a result of the accident, because I had already decided to clear the summer because of the cancer. Apart from the moral question I am too loose-lipped and distracted to keep my lies straight, so it is easier to be honest.

Tomorrow the leg will be 6 weeks post-op and we get to take X rays. Once they have made their way to the orthopedic surgeon we'll hear how much weight we can start to bear and can contact a physiotherapist. I am hoping to be able to hobble to the greenhouse soon.

The bad news: I am running to the bathroom every other hour again which is not good. This in spite of taking probiotics. Apparently it is not uncommon for C diff to come and go for a while. Guess I will give up coffee and sambal oelek again. 

I am getting tired of being tired and tired of missing the summer, tired of having to ask other people to do things for me that I would prefer to just DO. Gardening is joy to me, and a burden of chores to husband. I know it will be a while till things are a semblance of normal, but going backwards is just a bit too much to take.

On the other hand, we are getting those wonderful Home Support Workers who are getting paid to tend to me, and when I get tired, I get to do nothing. I am not in pain. Quit whining mother and have a nap.


Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Old Car on the bridge #10. From The Big One to Home.


Warning: the following content contains descriptions of smelly bodily functions. Reader discretion is advised.


So now we were in Vernon hospital, where the bowel surgery had been scheduled. Vernon is not nearly as crazy busy as Kelowna. Interactions with the nurses were more relaxed. 

Another cell phone panic moment: Right after arrival I realized I had left the charger tied to the railing of the bed in Kelowna. DUH! I messaged Pat, who rushed  out there to retrieve it, bless her busy heart. Then we had to figure out how to get it to Vernon. One of the nurses had the brilliant idea to use the lab mail, which goes out daily. The towns are only an hour apart. Pat had to go through some hoops to access the lab after hours, but she has lots of goodwill built up among the staff.  Whenever she is in Kelowna with Ernie she rarely leaves his side and does the nurses' work for them. She called in a favor, got the charger into the lab mail and it was back with me late the next day, phew. I owe that woman!

I spent 2 days just being warehoused in a private room. The diarrhea was present, but under control and not a big deal as  far as I was concerned. Measures to limit the spread of infection were thorough. 


Did I get antibiotics right away? Quite frankly I cannot remember. Thursday I got 2 bags of blood pre-op. I had managed to bring the hemoglobin up prior to this, but alas, my blood credit got used up in the other surgeries.

Surgery (right hemi-colectomy) went ahead as scheduled on Friday July 20th. Recovery was no fun, but initially not as agonizing as I had feared. There was a pump with some morphine product that the patient gets to squeeze as needed. It is set to guarantee against overdoses. To my relief the pain was bearable as long as I lay very still. I was hooked up to an IV for fluids, and a catheder meant no worries about having to get up to pee. 

The only fly in the ointment was the physios who want to start mobilizing patients as early as one day post-op. You want me to SIT UP AT THE EDGE OF THE BED? ARE YOU KIDDING??? Pure agony, even with drugs. People are encouraged to take more hits from the morphine pump and force through the pain. I sincerely wonder if this policy is based on what is best for the patient, or on the need for fast turnover. Every cell in my body wanted to just lie very still till some of my belly had knit itself back together, about 3 days. Anything else seemed counter-intuitive. 

Three days passed like this. On Sunday members of the Linda clan surprised me with a visit. Linda, son Keelan and second daughter Chandra with her adorable kids. The kids live in Kelowna but Linda had come all the way from Greenwood, a 3 hour trip. They came bearing a beautiful orchid, a gift baggy with nice smelly things, and more V8. It was wonderful to see them, gowns, gloves and all. I was propped up in the bed and having little pain as long as I made no sudden moves, including sneezing or laughter. Life wasn't so bad. 

For anyone undergoing colon surgery, the first sign of recovery is the passing of gas. This had still not happened. I was getting mildly worried. By Monday I was using much less morphine. That night I couldn't sleep. I started feeling more and more miserable, and spent most of the night just sitting up in bed suffering. I was breaking out in a cold sweat, nauseous and feeling lousy all over. In retrospect I wonder if  this was morphine withdrawal. 

By 4 AM we had a breakthrough: GAS, hallelujah. Followed shortly by an attack of Cdiff in all its gory glory. Adult diapers became involved. At its worst C diff causes uncontrollable flooding diarrhea about every hour. Not fun, and especially worrisome if one has just had colon surgery. Let go of all pretense at dignity, ye who enter here.

If C diff doesn't kill you the antibiotics used to treat it will. Intravenous Flagyl didn't do much till they added oral VancoMycin, the antibiotic of last resort. Side effects of Flagyl include nausea. I couldn't even keep down water. The nausea kind of came and went, and never mind the details. They are getting blurry already, which is just as well. 

At one point the surgeon ordered a CAT scan to make sure he would not have to remove the other half of the colon. Yikes! I did not fancy the prospect of being a bag lady. On the way to the scanner, from the stretcher I saw a lady carrying a nice  bouquet, with two white gladiolus surrounded by dark peach alstroemeria and some orange zinnias. It was such a cheerful bunch it made me smile. When I came back to the room it was there waiting for me!  Thanks son Alex.

And speaking of flowers: On my last day in Vernon the florist delivered a beautiful arrangement of 3 red roses at the peak of perfection. The card said: "Alles sal reg kom".* My Seffrican friends will appreciate the quote. It was from Chris, the first time EVER in almost half a century that the man had given me anything floral. I was touched to tears. 

I was feeling better by Friday, a week post-op. Normally I would have been  discharged by now. Not yet. I did talk to the surgeon about the possibility of being transferred to Nakusp. He said he'd look into it on Monday. The weekend crawled by. I was out of books, but a kind volunteer scored me some weekend papers and I indulged in TV rental. Comes Monday, I am out of diapers, unhooked from the Flagyl and from the saline drip and the catheder is removed. Life unplugged, wow. But as for getting out of there, suddenly Doc wants to see "a formed stool" first.

Dear Goddess, that might take another week! To top up the frustration Chris called about some government papers that I had to sign. It turned out to be false alarm, but it was enough to give me a sleepless night. There was no way I could heal in that environment. 

Tuesday morning I told the nice doctor that if I were not gone by Wednesday I would call a friend and get home on my own somehow, even though I could not imagine sitting up in a car for 3 hours. To my surprise and joy he agreed and called Nakusp hospital then and there. 
He expressed concern that a small hospital would not accept  a patient with Cdiff. It turns out that not only is it a frequent occurrence, but Nakusp and New Denver have an almost perfect record of containing the evil critter. An ambulance was organized, and by 7.30 I was in our own sweet tiny hospital. 

My only complaint was that the ambulance attendant refused to take my flowers on board. I later heard this was his decision, other drivers carry them all the time. It was sad to leave the orchid and roses behind as well as a pretty leafy arrangement sent by other friends. 

The private room had a huge bank of windows with a view from my bed of the same mountain I see from my living room. The full moon was just rising, skirting the edge of the mountain like it does this time of year. I was met by people I know.
Miracle of miracles, the window OPENED! Delicious fresh mountain air after 3 weeks of the canned stuff. Since I had missed dinner the nurse scrounged up something from the kitchen. A bowl of soup that was not just cream of cornstarch, a mini-quiche, a serving of cottage cheese with real fresh fruit, and a slice of home-made pumpkin pie. A feast.

As I told everyone who came in: it felt like going from jail to a five star hotel. Food is cooked on the premises and is real. A potato is a potato, not mashed up flakes from a box. Friends came to visit, a nurse spent an hour giving me my first shower in 4 weeks, it was wonderful. The physio therapist designed an exercise program I could do in bed, and by Friday declared me stable enough to go home. By now we had the last dose of Vancomycin and the Cdiff appeared to be under control.

Friday afternoon, after exactly 4 weeks in hospital, I was home. Heaven.

Old Car on the Bridge #9. An arm, a leg, communicatons snafus and a bug in Kelowna

I have almost fond memories of that ambulance drive, believe it or not. Of course I was still in shock. But I just went totally passive and allowed people to do to me what needed doing. Everyone was so kind and professional. I felt safe and cared-for. That was basically the mode in which I survived the weeks to follow. I have zero pain tolerance, but there was little pain or discomfort till much later.

After the ambulance bubble I was hoisted onto a gurney in an operating room, given a weird drug that was not-quite-total anesthesia, and plastic surgeon Dr. Brian Miller did a masterful job stitching my arm and hand together. I vaguely overheard them talking about picking out pieces of wood and glass. When I came to in a post-surgical ward my right arm and hand were encased in serious bandages and immobilized with a splint. He had managed it without skin grafts. There was no pain beyond an all-over sense of being bruised and banged up. My right leg had been in a removable Zimmer splint all along.

There were some nice people in the 4 bed ward, all recovering from some kind of surgery. Hearing the moans as patients tried to mobilize with fresh incisions did not make me look forward to the near future, but one thing at the time. A nurse had managed to get me a book, and I had a cell phone. 

The Cell phone. Now there is a story. 
We each have one and hardly ever use the dratted things. They are mainly just in case, and when we are traveling. For years I paid the lowest possible pay-as-you-go amount, $10 per month. It added up till I had over $300 in credit. Would you believe I burnt through that in 2 days? 

The only times in the entire period when I lost it and dissolved into a blubbering mass of self pity was when connectivity was lost or threatened.
First the battery ran dry. My ward neighbor allowed me to use her charger, that fit mine. But then she needed it herself, and she was moving out anyway, now what? The son who came to take her home kindly offered to run to the mall and buy me one. I handed him my debit card, pin and all. There is a time to trust people and anyone who thinks they can get rich using my line of credit will be sadly disappointed. 

Charger taken care of, the next challenge was credit. At some point I ran out, more panic. I managed to get to a pay phone and contact Nienke, who took care of it. She came up with a plan that allowed me to text without limits inside Canada for $15 a month. Deal. Meanwhile I had learned to text with my left hand only, just like a real inhabitant of the century of the fruitbat. 

Since we are on the topic of communications: while all this is going on my poor husband had NO telephone, NO internet, and was NOT allowed to drive. Our landline had broken down a few weeks earlier, repair was not possible till the 16th. Meanwhile the router for the internet broke down and his 6 year old phone did not allow texting. We tried later and no one could make it work. Talk about a perfect storm. 

We ended up communicating by me texting Nienke, who would email our stalwart friend Beverley, who would talk in person to Chris. In theory I could have called Chris on his cell, but between my paranoia about running out of credit and his deafness, not. Meanwhile he had to deal with things on the home front, like ICBC asking questions about my condition to which no one knew the answer. All I had to do was lie around and be looked after.  If I was halfway nice to people and cracked a joke now and then they thought I was wonderful. I honestly think Chris had the harder time of it.

On Saturday the knee got CAT scanned, revealing a tibial plateau fracture. The next day I was moved to the orthopedic post-op room in anticipation of  surgery. Two beds were open, I asked for the window seat. Done. Good thing too, I was in there for more than a week while others came and went. 

Memorable neighbours: a young man with a shattered pelvis after a motorcycle accident that was caused by an 18 year old driver not paying attention for a moment. His girlfriend came to see him in a wheelchair. Her right leg had just been amputated below the knee. They were housed together in re-hab while their home was re-fitted for the rest of their lives.
They were such troopers.  A retired nurse who had been a political figure and was a fount of knowledge on dealing with the system. A feisty lady who had been looking forward to a big family reunion for her 80th birthday on July 21st, my birthday as well. She had tripped over someone's dog and broke her shoulder. I was glad to see her get out in time for the party, though she was a bit miffed about having to stick to tea and painkillers while  her guests drank wine in her honour. 

On Monday there was a surprise: A volunteer with a cart full of books. I shamelessly helped myself to a big pile, and felt much reassured about getting through the weeks with my sanity intact. The young woman was wearing a hijab, to which I admit having a prejudice. This young lady did much to help me overcome some bigotry. She was studying bio-chemistry and was clearly nobody's oppressed victim.

My knee was operated on Tuesday. As I was wheeled back to the ward a surprise awaited: Visitors! My dear friend Linda's son lives in Kelowna. This is the woman from "Linda does the laundry". We go waaayyyyy back in each others lives. Months may go by without us seeing each other, but the connection is always there, like having an extra sister. Keelan came bearing flowers, pro-biotics and V8 juice, to complement the pathetic hospital food.

And a friend who is more Bev's friend than mine had driven all the way from her home in Vernon to be there in Kelowna and gave me some energy healing. I felt pretty special. They were lavish with the pain killers. Since I hardly ever take any I can get pleasantly high on a mere Tylenol 3.
I suffered no pain at all.
The next days are a bit of a blur. Hooked up to an IV, needing a bedpan every hour, reading, just getting through the days. The room faced West and got stifling hot by late afternoon. 

But before long I was unhooked and more mobile, splints and all. I started having some use of my right hand. I could get onto the commode next to the bed by myself. If someone wheeled me into the bathroom, commode and all, I could wash my hair under the tap at the sink. Saturday brought another visitor: an acquaintance who heard about the predicament from Bev, and offered to take over a care package. She had to go to Kelowna anyway.
I had made a list for Bev through the text-email channel, but she surprised me by including FOOD. A wonderful clam shell full of salad greens from my own greenhouse. She even included dressing. There were some strawberries and red currants as well. After more than a week of atrocious, bone dead hospital food it was ambrosia. I literally squealed with joy.

Under normal circumstances I would have been discharged from the orthopedic ward a mere 3 days or so post-op. Things were not normal. My home is a trailer with a steep set of 7 steps. It needed to be made accessible. Because both the right arm and the right leg were a mess crutches were not an option. By the time all was ready with a wheelchair accessible ramp,  the doctors decided to just keep me in the Okanagan, partly because sitting in a car for 2x3 hours might cause blood clots. So I continued to occupy the bed by the window while others came and went.

At some point my dear fellow grandmother Pat dropped by. She and her husband Ernie were in Kelowna hospital for one of his many 'routine emergencies'. Pat has been keeping Ernie alive with home kidney dialysis for 7 years now. The doctors had given him 2. In Ernie's place, with all the pain and suffering he goes through, I would have given up years ago. But he loves his wife and grandchildren too much to give up. Those 2 are true heroes, teachers of love. We are so lucky to have them as grandparents for our one and only.

In between looking after Ernie Pat treated me to some outings in the wheelchair. It was so nice to get out of that room. And now that I know what I didn't know then, I wonder how many surfaces I infected on my merry rounds. Sure I washed my hands, but just, you know, regular.

Which brings us to The Bug.

Meanwhile, the dear little old lady in the bed kitty cornered from me had a hard time of it. She suffered debilitating, flooding, uncontrollable diarrhea. Nurses tending to her wore extra gowns and gloves but I did not think too much about it. When my own bowels became a bit loose I blamed the stool softeners in combination with the beany vegan diet I had asked for. At some point I did mention it to the nurse. Samples were promptly taken. 

By Tuesday I was transferred to the hospital in Vernon, where I was put in isolation because of  Clostridium Difficile,  Cdif to its friends.

End of this chapter.









Old Car on the bridge 8, OFF the bridge

Originally posted to Multiply on August 5th

Like the garden blog, I am writing this for my own records in ridiculous detail.  I have nothing better to do right now. Viewer discretion is therefor advised: May contain boredom. I will not hold it against busy friends if they skip to the more sunny present.

July 5th was the first day of summer, after a cold sodden June. I had 2 more weeks of normal life left, or so I thought. I figured those precious weeks would be my summer vacation. It is all many people get in a year. I had a few mild garden projects planned. Start more salad greens for a continuing succession, plant some started cabbage family members in the top garden, plant snap beans in one bed that my dear friend Gail had already prepared. Make a big batch of COF for future top dressings while we still have stomach muscles.

But first, on July 5th, we had to go to Vernon* for a pre-op chat with the aneasthesiologist.  On the way out, I stopped at the desk to make the point that the whole thing could have been handled over the phone, and certainly with a video link. Medical people in the larger centers have no idea about the reality of life in the rural regions. I always remember one dear Home Support client who had to go to Kelowna* for a post-op prostate checkup. It meant his daughter in law, a nurse, had to take a day off work. It all took some doing. When he got there he never even took his pants off. The whole thing was a 5 minute conversation that basically consisted of asking him if he was alright. Hallo! Could we do this over the phone please?

Anyway, since we were out and the day was still young, we decided to make it into an outing. I don't know how many times we have passed the sign for Zelazny farms in Cold Stream. This time we took the turnoff and satisfied our curiosity. We bought two bags of lovely spinach (mine had gone to seed) and young carrots for the juicer. Palak Tofu was planned for dinner. Then we treated ourselves to a pleasant early lunch outside at the Lumby golf course restaurant, another one of those places one always passes and wonders what it is like. It was a really nice hour. We commented to each other that no matter what the future would bring, we had enjoyed this moment to the full.

Onwards to home. Crossing the Monashee pass, getting close to the ferry across Arrow Lakes. I looked at my watch, 1.30. Good! There would be time to plant a bed with snap beans. And then it happened.

My dear husband has always been a fantastic, safe and secure driver. This is the man whose bus driving was so much safer that some seniors would wait for one of his days to take the community bus to Nelson. This is the man who thought nothing of driving across Canada to pick up his daughter, partner, baby and cats from Waterloo, Ontario. This is the man who has been the mainstay driver of our dear co-grandparents, who need frequent unexpected medical trips out of town. 

The stress of the whole cancer thing may have gotten to him. He may have fallen asleep for a fraction of a second.

But here is what happened: the road made a gentle curve to the left and the car kept going straight. There was a second of WTF?! followed by a sickening crash and the feeling of being inside a breaking wave. Then the car stopped in a deep ditch, leaning over to the passenger side with the door gaping open. It turned out we had flipped over on the roof and landed facing the opposite direction. It could all have been a lot worse.

We scrambled out, dazed and in shock. I noticed right away my right knee did not feel right, though all attention was on my right arm and hand, which had been lacerated by the passenger window and looked like something out of a zombie horror movie. 

An angel named Christy LaMarsh stopped an clambered down into the ditch within minutes. She called 911, thank goodness we were within cell phone range.
She stayed with us till the ambulance came from Edgewood. The paramedics hoisted us onto clam shells and took us to Nakusp, sirens and all. Once there the new doctor took one look at my arm and decided this needed more than stitching, it called for a plastic surgeon. I am so grateful to him for making that judgment. 

Chris looked dazed but other than a few stitches on his elbow none the worse for wear. I had the presence of mind to ask the local X ray tech who is a mutual acquaintance to call my best friend Beverley McClinchey and tell her what happened. Bev became our ROCK during the next weeks of  weirdness. 

Then I was hoisted back into the ambulance, given some gravol, and back across the Monashee we went to the plastic surgeon on call in Kelowna.

And that's enough for this entry.

*Vernon and Kelowna are fairly large towns in the Okanagan Valley, one mountain chain West of us. The trip takes about 3 to 4 hours and includes a mountain pass with some serious switchbacks and poor road maintenance. The Okanagan is much more populated than the West Kootenay.

Old Car on the Bridge #7: Ralph Moss report

In a previous rant against the Cancer Industry I said this: "If I got cancer tomorrow I would invest in a Ralph Moss report...."

Ralph is a medical writer who has been studying the topic for 35 years. He is one of the few people who is totally eclectic and looks at both sides of the dividing line between so-called regular medicine and so-called natural medicine. He has had articles published in the peer review literature.

At first I balked at shelling out three hundred bucks for a bunch of electrons, but then my mind started playing second-guessing games again. I started having cold feet about the impending surgery. You can stop taking a pill or doing a diet that doesn't agree with you, but once cut, that's it!

I decided my peace of mind is worth it. So if I am not around the next few days, I am reading.....

Continued later in the day.
The report starts by evaluating, in great detail, the various chemotherapy agents. I have to re-read it, but so far I get the impression that I might stick to my original decision: surgery yes, chemo no. The percentage of people who truly benefit is ridiculously low. That is measured only against placebo, not against forgoing chemo and actively pursuing health building instead.

But later in the report Ross looks at some of the sacred cows of the natural health movement, like the notion of alkalizing foods. They do not come out unscathed either. 

I am nowhere near done yet, and I do wish this had not cost so much. But I have always been curious about these reports. On with the reading. Tomorrow might be a nice day and we just might get some work done in between naps.

Later: Too much of the report is devoted to evaluating CAM clinics on their merits.  The material is worthwhile, but overpriced. Much of it is generic, not specific to any particular cancer. 

Some questions I had regarding well known alternative therapies, such as for instance Budwig Diet vs a regimen including Graviola/ PawPaw were not answered at all.

I asked for my money back and received it. If anyone is in a position to visit a CAM clinic, the  reports are well worth it. I would gladly have paid between $50 and $100 for the report but that was not an option.

A morning for the memory album

Originally posted to Multiply July 1st 2012

I have not been paying much attention to astrology lately. More than anything I use it as a philosophical framework, a comprehensive symbol system that works brilliantly to describe the human condition.

But this morning I happened to glance at the ephemeris in the back of my We'Moon day timer. I bought it with the intention of using it as a garden diary, so I could see if Moon phases have any noticeable effect. Of course I forgot, and now the season is a write-off anyway. We digress.

But anyway, this morning I went to town to do the weekly shopping, starting at the farmers market.  I ran into a friend and we ducked into the adjoining coffee shop for a good visit and to escape the downpour. Later we were joined by a  mutual friend. Other people came and went and stopped by. Many people expressed concerns about "my health challenge."

I encourage naming the beast. I do not have an amorphous challenge, I have colon cancer. I told people it is time for a "brown ribbon" campaign, to spread awareness of the connection between anaemia and colon cancer. The brown ribbon gets a grin every time.

 After abstaining for 2 weeks because I am avoiding acid forming foods, the coffee hit me like the most delicious drug. Energy, animation, definitely a High!

Several people offered help with garden work, so sweet. It was a totally fun and soul nourishing social time. 

Because someone else mentioned it I checked the ephemeris. Transiting Mercury was exactly on my Jupiter. Cute.

The bucket list is a garden

Originally posted to Multiply June 28th, a week before a car accident changed the face of the summer even more drastically.

The main item on my 'bucket list': Just once, I'd like to have a really beautiful and productive garden. 

It may seem a small  wish and not much of a story. But really, there are no unresolved family dramas to heal, no unfinished manuscripts in a drawer, no big task I have set myself that must be accomplished.  

I know people whose marriage is better than ours, and people who have done worse. At this stage of  life we are  treating each other with kindness. I treasure the continuity of shared history and ask not for more.
The children are both doing great and are good friends. 

Travel? Sure, it would have been nice to travel all across Canada or see Chartres and Stonehenge, or to revisit the place in Southern Spain where we lived for three summers.
But I cannot feel cheated if that does not happen. I have been granted more natural beauty in this life than most people see in several.

We have seen large parts of the Western USA and Canada. We have driven the Oregon coast both ways, several times. We have crossed the Golden Gate, looked down into the Canyon de Chelly, seen Monument Valley and the Carlsbad Caverns. We were in Big Bend National park in Texas when the cactus was blooming. 

We have crossed the mighty Mackenzie where it flows out of Greater Slave Lake. We have followed the Skeena to its end near Prince Rupert. We have felt the magic of Writing on Stone park and seen the place where mountain and prairie meet near Waterton.
Earlier in our European years we spent our honeymoon in Paris, swam in the Mediterranean, walked through Alhambra and saw the glory of Norway. 
And that is apart from living across from the Wester toren in Amsterdam, and spending most of our adult life in the mountain paradise that is the Kootenays.

I feel kind of satisfied. If I am stuck here for the remainder of my days I can so live with that.

But you know how in the garden you keep seeing things you should have done differently, and you think: "Wait till next year! I will get it right!" 

Just once, I'd like to approach that, in  my own imperfect way. Already it looks like this will not be the year. Details can be found at the garden blog. http://kootenaygarden.blogspot.com

Old Car on the Bridge #4-#6

#4 The plot thickens. 
Originally posted to Multiply June 13.

Well. The good news is: we do not have to go to Revelstoke again on Friday for a pelvic ultrasound. My dear MD had booked that too in case today's procedure did not solve the mystery of "Where is the leak?" I get to plant my cosmos and prepare for market at ease instead of in a frenzy.

The bad news is there is indeed a small tumor at the beginning of the colon. More investigations, CT scan soon in another hospital, yadayada, see the nice doctor again in 2 weeks. 

Meanwhile, with my hemoglobin back up and my right hip behaving as long as I stretch I have not felt this good in ages. I fully intend to keep doing that for a while. 

I had been doing some research on diets on behalf of my sister, so I will start the Johanna Budwig diet tomorrow. It won't harm if it won't help. Nice little note from the Universe, though my skeptic offspring will no doubt call it "confirmation bias".

As we were leaving the restaurant where we had a post-hospital lunch, I happened to glance at the table of three old ladies. On the corner of the table was a computer print-out. The subject, in big letters: Johanna Budwig's oil/protein diet.
It may mean nothing, but I liked it. And so it goes!

#5 Clearing the summer. 
Originally posted to Multiply June 25th


Energy has been coming and going in unpredictable ways ever since the colonoscopy. Drat it, I was doing great just before! Is this just the mind playing tricks? The thing is indeed malignant. I will find out what the CT scan said about spread or not on Wednesday. Meanwhile I am eating an even cleaner diet than usual, and I started using pawpaw, a close relative of Graviola. Google Graviola + HSI.

The last few years summer has been my busy time, winter is for rest. Apart from the gardens it is the season to earn some much needed extra money.  The decision to clear the schedule and focus strictly on my own health was not an easy one. I am addicted to being at the farmers market as a vendor! It is work, but so much fun. We all help each other, we have a great atmosphere. It is my social fix for the week.


And I need the money. But regarding the money, I figure there are 2 possibilities. Either I will be in my usual algae-fueled glowing health next year, in which case I can redouble my efforts and make up for lost time, or I will be on the way out. In the latter case the credit line is life insured till I hit 75, let's use it.

Cancer is a process, not an object. Even if  a tumor is removed, the body is still in the state that produced the tumor. So a bit of extra recovery time, reflection and cleansing seems in order. If I find myself chomping at the bit by mid-August I can finally get all kinds of things done at home. 

Anyway, the die is cast, I just sent an email to all my reflexology clients. I feel partly disappointed about it and partly relieved. I will make Saturday my groceries day so I can shop the market first and hang with my buddies.

#6 Three weeks of ordinary life left 
Originally posted to Multiply June 28.

Today was a half decent day, a bit of sun now and then peeking through the clouds, mainly dry, about 20 C. Alas, we spent most of it traveling to the doctor's appointment in Revelstoke.

News is not good. Tumor larger than originally thought, and some lymphatic involvement. Surgery planned in about 3 weeks, stay in hospital 5 or 6 days, total recovery time 6 weeks, after which the recommendation is for chemo, which is where our ways will probably part. 

So this will be a different kind of summer. Lots of reading and less gardening. I hope I will be able to help harvest and process the raspberries. If we get more sun we'll get a bumper crop. I still have a few weeks to plant kale seedlings and snap beans in empty spots. Otherwise, I will make my peace with the top garden a lost cause this year. And am I ever glad I never started a new flock of chickens this spring!