Friday, December 26, 2014

12 tissue boxes of Christmas

ugh.

Mark made tzimmes with a potato kugel topping. Note how my plate had nothing but fresh veggies on it! #Christmas #dinner #family #mealOn the eve of Christmas Eve, I got sick.  I am still sick.  I have the bug that will not quit.  I am stuffed up, tired, sore, head achey and generally miserable.  I think Mark may be coming down with it too.  It's like a gift that keeps on giving.
I woke up on Tuesday morning, feeling spectacularly crappy and basically spent the day, in a fog, on the sofa with the dogs, hiding under a blanket while sipping tea and eating oranges.  Now, that would not be a bad way to spend the day if it weren't for the fact that I felt like hammered crap.

Wednesday morning arrived and I needed to do just a little bit more baking.  I had actually baked a couple of batches of cookies on Monday and needed to get at least one more thing made before Christmas arrived.  Every year, I make Skor Toffee Bit cookies for my dad.  I had forgotten to get the bits with my shopping on Sunday so Mark bravely faced the grocery store for me on Monday and picked them up for me.  There was no way I was not making these cookies for dad!!

While the cookies turned out okay, I realize now that I should have never done them.  In my fuzzy state, I ended up adding double the sugar to the recipe.  Luckily I realized my mistake and was able to double everything else (except the Skor bits, I ended up using a package of butterscotch chipits in addition to the bits) and save the batch.  By the time I got them done, every square inch of counter space and my dining room table were covered with cooling cookies.  I realized I was done and the baking had to stop.

Christmas day was nice.  We saw my family and had a lovely meal but I would have enjoyed it more if I had been able to breathe a bit more.  My brother and his partner were here from Ottawa and it was great to see them.  My mum is getting over the same bug I have so we were a great pair!!

Boxing day has been quiet for us.  Being sick is NEVER fun but being sick over the holidays is particularly yucky but at least we're not expected to be anywhere anytime soon. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

getting to goodies

Before & after, Hershey pretzel hug treats. These are always popular! #yummy #Christmas #bakingBetter later than never, I'm finally getting started with some holiday baking.  I've been off work for over a week now but just haven't gotten the gumption up to get started.

Today, I made some Hershey pretzel treats.  Now, you're supposed to make these with kisses but I now only use hugs.  I found that the kisses just never melted for me, properly.  Maybe Canadian kisses have too much wax in them, I don't know.  When I use hugs (or Candy Cane kisses - any of the white chocolate kisses), they turn out fabulously.  I have even had good luck the last 5 years or so to get square pretzels at the Bulk Barn.  These are easy to do (I imagine it would be fun to do them with kids) and they are always a huge hit on a cookie plate.  The biggest part of the job is always peeling the hugs but this year it didn't take too long.  I'm  hoping that having these finished will get me in the mood for real, serious cooking baking.  We'll see.

In previous years, I did a lot of holiday baking.  Two years ago, we were getting ready to move so I didn't do much.  In 2013, between the big ice storm and my getting really good and sick with the flu, I did even less than I had the previous year.

I have a list of things I'd like to accomplish in the kitchen before the big day arrives but I'm planning to not beat myself up if I don't hit everything on the list.  My goal for this holiday season is to relax and enjoy it.  If I can get to everything I want to do, great, if I don't.  It's not the end of the world and the only person who'll know about what didn't happen will be me!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Coffee, Coffee, COFFEE!!!!

The fine folks at Influenster recently sent me a Keurig 2.0 (model K300) to check out. They sent this to me, free of charge, in exchange for my review.  It is the first time I have received a Voxbox and was really thrilled to learn that I would be receiving a Keurig machine to review.

We're fans of Keurig products and have been using one of their older machines in our house for about 18 months now.  What we find appealing about single serving coffee makers is the variety.  Mark likes really bold, dark roasts and I like medium roasts and flavoured coffees.  For years, we compromised on our regular morning pot of coffee and if we really wanted to indulge ourselves, we would "get our coffee on the outside" a la Jerry Seinfeld.

I'd been hearing a lot of buzz about the Keurig 2.0 for a few months now and was anxious to check it out.  Out of the box, I noticed that this particular unit was a lot smaller and lighter than our current Keurig.  Also, on the box and on the materials which accompanied the coffee maker, it stated that the machine will only operate with Keurig branded products.  Some of Mark's favourite blends are not branded with the Keurig ring so I'm not sure if we'll be able to make a permanent switch or not but I did try it out with one of my favourite flavours, Green Mountain Vanilla Caramel. 

As I expected from Keurig, the machine heats up quickly and made a nice cup of coffee.   The temperature was good and the flavour was consistent with what I was accustomed to drinking.

The reason that this machine is "2.0" is because of the carafe.  Keurig 2.0 allows you to use a larger pod and made a pot of coffee.  Now, the carafe that comes with the K300 is made of plastic and would not be great for keeping coffee warm in.  They do sell upgraded carafes which are probably insulated but the accompanying carafe I received was pretty flimsy.  Flimsy-ness aside, it did brew a nice pot of coffee.  This feature would be really useful if you were having a group of people over and didn't want to be making 4 individual cups of coffee. Using one larger pod saves you time and it also cuts down on the waste.

In addition to the carafe, I received a box with samples of individual k-cups and the larger pods.  The Keurig 2.0 would make a terrific gift for anyone on your Christmas shopping list who loves coffee.  It doesn't take up a lot of room on your counter and it consistently brews delicious coffee.  If you'd like to see what it looks like, I have made a little video (my first ever) - you can also hear how it works too!!

Thanks again to Influenster and Keurig for this opportunity!

Monday, December 15, 2014

waiting game

While we were waiting in the clinic earlier, I mentioned to Mark that it was 350 days ago that we found out his cancer had metastasized to his liver. Where did that time go!?

We are just home from Mark's appointment at the cancer clinic. I had forgotten how weird the energy is in that place. When you're in the chemo area, everyone is very positive and friendly. Perhaps because they are actively participating in their treatment and there is a lot of hope that treatment is working like it's supposed to.

Over on the other side of the building however, it's different. You have folks there, like Mark, who have completed chemo and are waiting to find out how they did. Other people are there for a six month or twelve month check up. What we saw today was a large group of newbies. They are the walking wounded who have recently received a cancer diagnosis, or are perhaps recovering from cancer surgery and are there for the first time for their chemo consultation. I remember how we felt the day we were in that position. It's a terrible, long, exhausting day. You're overwhelmed and terrified. We felt a lot of that energy yesterday.

We waited for almost 90 minutes to actually see the oncologist. The news was as we expected, no surprises. Mark has responded well to the chemo and he'll go back for another scan and bloodwork in June. For the foreseeable future, he'll be visiting the clinic every six months. I have no idea when you get to be officially cancer free but for now, he's done with chemo and surgeries, which is a very good thing.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

check in

2014 has been a whirlwind year for us. It feels like just yesterday we got that call from the surgeon's office about Mark's liver cancer. At times it feels like we didn't accomplish a lot this year but in reality, we did. Well Mark did, I was just along for the ride really. A couple of weeks ago, he went for a scan. It took place about 3 months after his last chemo treatment. He is still waiting to feel normal again. Not sure if his old normal will ever return or if he is stuck with this new normal. The new normal has a lot of stomach upset and neuropathy in his hands. Compared to cancer though, I suppose it's a small price to pay. Tomorrow we have a follow up meeting with his oncologist. This is the first time we'll be seeing him since chemo ended and we'll find out the results of his scan. We're both optimistic about the meeting. The surgery went well, he completed his chemo and he seems to be feeling okay, all things considered. All the same, it's a worry. It'll be nice to have it out of the way and to know what his status is!

Friday, December 12, 2014

finally

The past few weeks have been a bit of a blur. Work has been really busy for both of us. Mark's had a few doctor's appointments which have keep him on the run and I have had a few extra meetings regarding my volunteer work. Everything seems to ramp up just before the holidays. Things only really shut down for a few days but the prep work for those few days seems to take a lot of our time. Today was my last day in the office until 2015. I feel worn out, mentally and physically. Of course, I have a list of things to do over the next week that is as long as my arm. This weekend though, I think I'll not worry about that list and just take it easy. I'm exhausted and have been fighting a bug all week so may just lay down on the sofa and see what happens.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

fun shot

Steps #ygk #healthunitFor many years, I strongly opposed getting an annual flu shot.  The first year our health unit strongly promoted them in our region, Mark and I went to the local high school to get our shot.  I felt that it was my civic duty.  Mark was driving a taxi and was exposed regularly to all kinds of gross germs, we lived with a little old guy (Mark's dad Joe) at the time.  It was the right thing to do.

That winter, I experienced what I can only describe as a creeping malaise.  I constantly felt like I was on the verge of being sick but never actually got good and sick to get beyond that.  It was a huge bummer, feeling tired and run down, all the time.  I had never experienced this before and blamed the flu shot.

In subsequent years I refused to get a shot. I hadn't had the flu since the year that the Brady Bunch movie came out (I remember this because the flu hit me like a tonne of bricks while I sat in the theatre) so I felt okay not getting it.  Fast forward a few years and I get hit with a bad dose of the flu.  Horrible, I thought I would die.  As I lay in bed dying (ha!), I thought that for sure, this was why old folks and little kids get flu shots.  Whatever I had would surely kill someone who was not as strong and otherwise healthy as I was.

Every year since, I get a flu shot.  Mark and I go to our local health unit for it.  There are several things I like about getting our shot at the KFL&A Health Unit - you can book an appointment online, they have great parking and, more importantly, the staff and volunteers are friendly and very professional.  It's a very easy way to protect yourself against the flu and, this year, they had fun band aids (I got a Snoopy one and Mark had a Taz band aid). 

It was quick and easy and painless.  Everyone should do it, to protect yourself and the folks you love.  Have you been shot yet?

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Sweet Gracie

Gracie, our sweet peanut butter princess #ilovemydogs #sheltie #shetlandsheepdog #dogstagramSome folks call it "gotcha day" but around our house, we call the day that our dogs joined our family their "barkaversary."  6 years ago today, our sweet sheltie, Gracie, joined our family.  Sam had been with us since March that year and was suffering from separation anxiety whenever we went to work.  For those of you who doubt that dogs can have anxiety, I have photos of the destruction he caused because of it.

Once Gracie came on the scene, Sam never tore up another piece of furniture or carpeting.  The two of them were instantly best buddies.  We were really lucky it worked out that way.  In our case, two dogs were no more work than one, on some levels, two dogs are easier than just one.

She's such a sweet girl.  A wannabe momma doggie who herds us around and wants to take care of us when we're sick.  Today I was home sick with a nasty bug and she never left my side.  Nurse Gracie was on duty. 

Happy Barkaversary Gracie, we love you more than you love bacon!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Blissdom Canada is all about ME!!

Blissdom Canada 2014Again this year, I was fortunate enough to get a ticket to Blissdom Canada.  This was my fourth year attending and I really look forward to this weekend all year long.  With everything we’ve been coping with here at home with Mark’s surgery and chemo and general life stuff, it’s been a busy year.  While I was excited about going to Blissdom Canada again, I feel like this year it really crept up on me and I didn’t have much time to think about it or prepare for it.

The little bit of prep I did do this year involved hanging out on the Facebook page and reading some “how to prepare for a conference” blog posts which were being shared around.  One post in particular, by Joe Boughner (How You Can Get The Most Out Of A Blogging Conference ) gave me a light bulb moment and totally helped me figure out how to get the most out of my weekend.  In past years, I found myself rushing from session to session, head down, trying to get a “good” seat and then, once I arrived at the session, tweeting madly throughout the whole thing.  This approach left me tired and I felt like I was missing out on something.  Joe’s advice was to tweet if you wanted to (and what you wanted to) but he admitted that he had stopped doing that and allowed himself to be immersed in the sessions instead.  Lightbulb!! I realized that I was missing out on a lot of what was happening in the room by tweeting.  Instead, I took notes (with a pen and paper!) and allowed myself to really listen to the speakers rather than trying to transcribe what they were saying and post it in my twitter feed!  It was very freeing and I thank Joe for that!!

My Blissdom Canada Wrap-up:

  • Travel with a blogging buddy if you can.  This year, I caught a ride with Susan from Lil Ms Neat and we had the BEST time.  I met Susan the first year I attended Blissdom Canada (it was her first year too) and just love her.  The drive from Kingston to Mississauga just flew by.  We had a wonderful visit and got to see a lot of each other over the weekend.  Blissdom road trips are awesome!!  We have already made a date to travel together again next year.
  • My hat is off to any of you who picked up a microphone to ask a question in a session.  Wow.  How I admire you.  Those of you who participated in the Power Hour, incredible.  I am not able to speak in front a crowd of people.  I have tried in the past, many times.  I can almost do it if I’m sitting on a panel but if I stand up, I forget to breathe and the whole thing is just really horrible.  You are a brave lot, you stander uppers with microphone people!!
  • I am going to do a podcast.  Thank you podcast people for inspiring me.  My husband and I are working on something together.  It will take us a little bit of time to get it all sorted but we are going to work on it this fall/winter.  It will be a series of podcasts and I think it’ll be very interesting and I will probably bug Chris Read to listen it to for us before we post it.  I have listened to podcasts for a long time but never felt the urge to do one until now.  
  • Proud to say that I had a really lovely chat with everyone on the list I made during morning meditations with Optimom.  I so enjoyed that breathing exercise she led us in that I’m trying to work it into my day, every day.  I thank her so much for asking us to make the list because I know I may not have got up the nerve to talk to those folks without committing it to paper!
  • Heard a lot of talk about snot bubbles over the weekend but did not actually witness any of them.  There was certainly many opportunities for said bubbles to make an appearance but I didn’t see any.  Having said that, thank you, whoever decided to put boxes of tissue on the tables at the power hour.  My puffy swollen eyes and I appreciated them.
  • I totally ROCK my camera now! I learned more about my Nikon DSLR in 60 minutes with Anna Epp, the amazing Beach Mama, than I had in the 7 years I’ve been playing with it.  I will never use the auto setting again.  She was able to cover a lot of ground in our session and I have noticed the results in my photos.  I feel like I have a brand new camera.  Thanks Anna!!
I love learning and sharing with the amazing Blissdom Canada speakers and community leaders.  My favourite part of the conference is the time I spend talking, laughing and crying with folks I have met in previous years and with new people I met this year.  I really enjoyed spending time with new friends Tammy Bell, Patsy Copus & Siobhan Gillespie.  Blissdom Canada is the only thing I do every year that is only for ME.  Being part of a community of folks who I don’t have explain myself too means more to me than I can ever express.

Thank you so much Shannon, Jennifer, Neil, Melanie, Jacqueline, Lindsay, Dana and Tara (and all of the Blissdom Canada elves) for another amazing weekend.  Can’t wait to do it all over again next year!!

Thursday, October 02, 2014

sisterhood

Ordinarily, I don't have the wherewithal to compose a blog post while I'm still at Blissdom Canada but I wanted to share this as soon as possible.

I just returned from hearing Christine Bentley talk about the Art of the Pivot.  For folks in the GTA, she was a well known TV anchor for CTV.  More recently she has been on SiruisXM with her radio show What She Said.  The short story is, for many years she worked hard and succeeded in broadcast journalism.  When that part of her career ended, she needed to find something else she did, hence the move to radio (amongst other things).

Something she said at the end of her story struck me because I knew it to be true but had not heard it articulated in this way before.  Simply put, the myth that women are competitive with each other is for the most part a myth.  Her experience (and this has been mine in the digital world) is that women support each other.  Chris has found that women do not hoard their knowledge or their skills and that we share with other to help each other improve and succeed.  She's right, we do.

She called us a sisterhood and I loved that.  That is what this thing feels like, a sisterhood (and yes, it's still a sisterhood when some of our sisters are men). I love this awesome network of bloggers and tweeters and podcasters and am so excited about how the rest of the weekend will unfold.

Christine gave me goosebumps this afternoon and I thank her for that.  Looking forward to many more goosebump moments!!


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

storm before the calm


Thursday evening, Blissdom Canada 2013Today, I've been home sick.  Not sure what was up but I started feeling sick yesterday, late in the day and woke up in the middle of the night with a headache.  Nothing like a headache waking you up.  I couldn't shake it and realized that I would be neither use nor ornament at work today so I went back to bed.  Slept all morning too, may have slept all day had the dogs not started barking madly when the postman arrived.
I was a little shakey when I got up but I lay on the sofa all afternoon, eventually my headache got down to a dull roar and I was able to eat something.  I can still feel where the headache was but it's gone for now.

Good thing too.  I have  "to do" list to get through this next few days that is as long as my arm.  It's a good to do list though, because goodness gracious, next week is Blissdom Canada.  I'm attending for the 4th year in a row.  It's probably the event I look forward to most, all year. Hopefully whatever this thing was I had today happened so I can be healthy and enjoy next week.  There are too many people to see, amazing speakers to hear and events to attend for me to be under the weather.  I just can't let that happen!!


Saturday, September 20, 2014

the Isabel

The concert hall again, a stunning room. The ceiling is beautiful. Cannot wait to attend a concert at #theisabel #queensuThis afternoon my mum and I attended the Grand Opening of the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts.  It's an amazing building, spectacular really.  There was a gala tonight which we could have attended but formal dress and classical music is not really my style so we gave it a miss.  

Me and my date,my awesome mum, at the opening of #theisabel #queensuMark was supposed to go but he's been sick with the community cold for a few days and is still on bed rest.  it's quite a dose.  Several people in my office have had it over the past couple of weeks and it seems tough to shake.  So far, I've been able to avoid it, I hope to continue to!!

At the last minute, my mum agreed to be my date and we had a great time.  I'm looking forward to attending a concert there.  They are doing an "alt" series which is more to my taste.

If you're interested in learning more about this incredible facility, you can visit the website:  http://www.theisabel.ca/

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Chemo - Round 12 - NOT!

Screw you cancer! @taxichef is looking good for 23 weeks into chemo!Saturday evening, while we stood in line outside the Elgin theatre, waiting to go in, a bird shit on Mark's head.  At the time, I said to him, "that's supposed to be good luck" as I laughed and handed him a tissue.  Depending upon how you look at it, Mark's had a lucky couple of days so far this week.

The PICC line issue I told you about the other day ended up being a bigger deal that we originally thought it would be.  On Monday, Mark went to the cancer clinic for his regular, pre-chemo bloodwork.  He'd been advised to go earlier than normal (he typically goes on Tuesday) so the nurses could take a look at the PICC line and try to get it going.

No matter what they did to the line, they could not unblock it.  This happens sometimes.  The nurses paged his oncologist while Mark waited.  When the doctor arrived, he told Mark that he could do one of two things:  they could remove the PICC line, put a new one in, and proceed to his final round of chemo (scheduled for today) or he could have the PICC line removed and be done with it.  Mark didn't hesitate to get that line out and leave, as soon as he could (thank you poopy bird).

Obviously, if this had happened at week 16, there would have been no question, he would have had a new line put in and carried on.  At week 23 however, it's a completely different story and he is happy to be finished with chemo.  We're waiting for an appointment for a follow up CT scan, he has an appointment already scheduled with the oncologist for early December and hopefully, that will be it for a while.  Of course, we expect that he'll continue to be monitored by his surgeons, and the cancer clinic but we're both very relieved and happy to have this chapter over.

His arm is pretty sore where the PICC line is and he is well bandaged (and has to wear the bandage for at least another day).  For the past 24 weeks, he has had to have his arm wrapped up in cling film and rubber bands, to take a shower.  The first wrap-free shower he gets to have will feel amazing I'm sure.  Having the chemo meds out of his system will feel even better but we're a few weeks away from that.

The end of chemo has been a little unceremonious but Mark was never going to ring the bell anyway!

Sunday, September 07, 2014

My Review of Roger Waters The Wall

...or, our whirlwind trip to TIFF 2014  ....or, so you thought you might like to go to the picture show!

Let me just preface this all by saying that Mark has an almost 35 year relationship with The Wall.  He could certainly tell you more detail about all his connections to it but what it boils down to is that he saw the original New York Wall shows in the early 1980's (I think he saw 3 of 5 nights).  He travelled to New York for the North American premiere of the Alan Parker's film, "The Wall."  Later, he flew to Berlin to see Roger and friends tear down the wall in 1990 and in 2010, was in Toronto for the opening night of the more recent tour.  In 2012, just after his first cancer diagnosis, he went to Quebec City for the final night of the North American leg of the tour.  During the 2010/2012 tours, he saw the show 7 times.  Just wanted to put that out there, before I tell our long and winding story of how we got to see the world premiere of the new movie, last night in Toronto.


When the announcement was made that Roger Waters and Sean Evans were going to be premiering their film, “Roger Waters The Wall” at the Toronto International Film Festival, I was shocked.  It was a pleasant surprise but I hadn’t realized that the film was finished (we’ve been speculating about a concert film since the fall of 2010).  To learn that the premiere was happening just a couple of hours down the road from us, and on a Saturday night, was really exciting.  I had never been to TIFF before and it’s been about 17 years since Mark had been so we weren’t quite sure what to expect.  We got up early on Sunday, August 31 and spent about 2 hours in an online queue, trying to get tickets. Eventually, we had our tickets, 2 seats for the world premiere screening.  Honestly, we would have been happy to get tickets for any screening of the film but this was what we’d hoped for; seeing the movie, at the premiere, with Roger and Sean in attendance, on Roger’s birthday no less.

When we arrived in Toronto that afternoon, we went immediately to the box office at the Elgin Theatre.  A friend of mine is a TIFF pro and she told me that we could collect our tickets at will-call, rather than go to the main festival box office (which is located in the middle of a big TIFF street festival on King Street).  We were told that we couldn’t get our tickets until an hour before the screening but I spoke to a couple of festival volunteers (who I might add are just so lovely and helpful) and learned that we could line up in the ticket-holders line and then grab our tickets before the doors open.  The lines were interesting.  The theatre is located on Yonge Street and they had barriers all around the theatre, and across the street.  There was a barricaded section for folks who hoped to buy Rush tickets, located on the south side of the box office.  The line for ticket holders was to the north of the box office.  I’d been warned that the line for ticket holders could snake all the way around the building (the Elgin seats 1500+ people).  There was a separate line, a second-tier VIP line for folks who carry one of the sponsoring company’s credit cards. 

The screening was scheduled to start at 9:15 p.m. so we took off for a walk, wandered around a bit and grabbed some dinner.  At 7 p.m., we went back to the theatre to line up.  The line was huge but we were told that many of the folks in the line were queued up for an 8 p.m. screening (which was happening in the Wintergarden theatre – located in the same building as the Elgin).  When we first joined the line, we were around the corner.  It was pretty obvious to us which folks were going to the Wintergarden and which folks were there to see The Wall.  There was lots of tour t-shirts and “trust me” hoodies in the lineup.  Some folks wore VIP laminates from the Ticket Master promotions of the tour.   While we stood in line on Shuter Street, folks across the street were lining up for a TIFF party in Massey Hall.  There was a DJ blasting dance music into the street.  It was a very festive environment but the folks in the line around us were not really enjoying the music or the street theatre (courtesy of a young woman who had clearly taken too much of something).  Fortunately, this didn’t last too long.  By 8:15 p.m. or so, we had moved up and were about 50 people away from the box office.  While we stood in line, TIFF volunteers were handing out these lovely commemorative stickers and some of the TIFF staff kept joking “ticket holders for the Wall, please line up by the Wall.”  It was funny for about the first 3 times, less so each time we heard it after that! 

Roger and Sean were scheduled to arrive at 8:30 p.m. and many folks in the lineup started to push toward the red carpet area.  Some of the people who were standing near us ran up to try to get photos or have Roger sign something when they arrived.  It was interesting to see.  I’d been told that normally, the ticket holders are in the theatre before the red carpet folks start to arrive and that once you got your seat saved, it was possible to run back to the red carpet area to get photos.  Last night, at the Elgin anyway, this was not the case.  I had printed off a couple of photos I took at the show in Ottawa (June 2012) and thought if the stars aligned correctly, we may be able to get one signed.  When we saw the crush of the crowd (many folks from behind us had run up to the red carpet), we decided to stay put.  The sound of people hollering Roger’s name was a little overwhelming.  We were probably 40 feet from where he was and it was loud, I can only imagine what it would have been like for him. 

About 30 minutes before Roger arrived, a very small group of protesters set up across the street.  At first, it was just two young men, each holding a bundle of pink balloons.  I couldn’t make out what was printed on them but I had seen a couple of posts on twitter earlier in the week from folks who were inviting people to come down to protest the screening.  Another group joined the balloon fellows and a couple of banners were hung over the barricade, and a couple of men started shouting at Roger.  Now, I’m not going to wade in on any big political debate because honestly, I agree with Roger’s position this particular issue.  Personally, I think that if you are going to print a banner and quote someone, you should try to get the quote right.  Also, you should look further at the quote and see it in the context of the rest of that particular song.  That’s all I’ll say.  Once Roger and the VIPs entered the theatre, the protesters turned on us, hollering at us to rip up our tickets and calling us anti-Semites.   Nice way to try to get your point across.

Eventually, the line started to move and the folks in the second-tier VIP line were allowed in.  The folks in our line up were allowed in immediately after and Mark and I split up, thinking that between the two of us, we’d be able to find a decent spot to sit.  When I entered the lobby of the theatre, I looked over to my right and saw Roger and Sean standing about 6 feet away (I could see the side of Roger’s face and the back of Sean’s head) standing in a cordoned off area, being interviewed.  As I walked past, some TIFF handlers started moving Roger and Sean toward the inner lobby.  I could see Mark ahead of me about 6 people and the crowd was asked to stop so Roger, Sean and a small group of people could get onto a beautiful old elevator, I presume to go up a level to the stage.  Once the elevator door closed, the crowd was permitted to move ahead.

When we got into the theatre, we discovered that more than half of the seats in the theatre were reserved for the credit card people. Mark always like to sit as close to the front of the theatre as possible, no matter what the movie.  When he’s attended TIFF in the past, this was never a problem and normally, the first few rows are empty.  Last night however, the first section was jam packed. We made our way up toward the middle/back section, on the right side of the theatre.  I had been in this theatre once to see a play many years before and knew that there wasn’t a bad seat in the house and our seats were great.  We were in the theatre about 5 minutes when they took the house lights down.

TIFF CEO Piers Handling came onto the stage to introduce Roger and Sean.  They both came up on stage and Roger said a few words about the film.  He joked that Sean was a mute but that they would both be around to answer questions after the film finished.  With that, the lights when dark and the film started.

I’m not going to do a formal review of the movie. As with music, I know what I like but I’m not a super technical film nerd so I certainly won’t get into too much detail about the film because I really think that folks should experience it for themselves.  I will say this, we noticed right away that one of the shows they filmed was Quebec City.  Mark had been at that show, in July 2012, on the Plains of Abraham.  We later learned that the other show in the film (and they were edited together magnificently) was filmed in Buenos Aires.  I can honestly say that this was the best concert film I have ever seen.  Anyone who has seen the tour knows how visually striking it is.  I think it was a very ambitious project to try to capture the experience of the Wall tour on film and Sean and Roger did it beautifully. As with anything he sets his hand to, Roger does not disappoint. Nigel Godrich did an amazing job on the music and it sounds better than I could have imagined.  The sound was absolutely flawless.  Visually, it’s stunning.  The viewer has an opportunity to experience the show from just about every different seat in the house.  One of the things I loved most about the Wall was that no matter where your seats were, they were great.

Sean Evans had said earlier on twitter that “Roger Waters The Wall” was a concert film with a twist.  This was a great way to describe it.  The incredible concert footage is interwoven with a moving, thoughtful and sometimes funny narrative provided by Roger.  Without giving too much away, I will tell you that my favourite part of the concert footage was during “Hey You.”  I had always wanted to see what the band gets up to during this part of the show.  Watching them perform, hidden by the Wall, was a real treat.  The boys are clearly enjoying themselves and having fun with each other, away from the audience.  The other high-light for me came toward the end, as Roger is introducing the band during “Behind The Wall.” When he got around to introducing Snowy White, everyone (including us) in our section of the theatre cheered loudly.  I wish he could have been there to hear it, it only happened for him.  I will say that this film demonstrates exactly how talented every band member is, Roger & Sean have shown everyone in their very best light, looking and sounding incredible.

Interestingly, the screening did not sell out and there were many empty seats in front of us.  As the credits were rolling, I grabbed my camera and tried to get as close to the front of the theatre as I could to take a couple of photos.  I wasn’t able to get as close as I would have liked and they didn’t put the house lights up like I had hoped that they would.  From my spot along the wall, I looked up and at the end of the row I spotted Jack and Harry Waters.  At this point, Roger was up on stage, thanking folks and introducing some of the team members who were in the audience. 

We heard that Roger and Sean planned to stay in Toronto the following day to attend the Ryerson screening and I am certain that they will be working hard during their time at TIFF as they try to secure distribution for the film.  At the moment, they have neither a distributor nor a release date set.  Someone asked about a DVD release and Roger commented that they need to get the film out into the theatres before they can do that.  I’m confident that the eventual DVD (and I hope accompanying soundtrack album) will sell well.  They have really outdone themselves with this film.  I cannot wait to see it again.

Friday, September 05, 2014

not good

Ugh.
At least I can have coffee while I am in the queue #tiff #waiting
So, we stopped off at St. Elizabeth on our way home from work, like we do every Friday.  Mark needs to have his PICC line cleaned every week.  Normally it's a pretty quick process, we pop in and we're gone in 20 minutes or less.

Today, for the first time in 23 weeks, there was a problem.  The line is blocked.  They tried to unblock it and couldn't.  When he goes for his pre-chemo blood work on Tuesday, the folks at the cancer clinic may be able to do some voodoo on it and get it working again. Could make chemo next week difficult.  Not sure what they will do if it can't get going again but we're trying to not worry about it.

Tomorrow, we head to Toronto for the day and we're going to do our best to not think about PICC lines and chemo and cancer.  We have tickets for the world premiere of "Roger Waters The Wall" at the Toronto International Film Festival.  The men themselves, Roger Waters and Sean Evans are scheduled to appear and participate in a Q&A after the screening.  We're both pretty stoked to have tickets and I think it's just the thing we need to keep our minds off of medical nonsense for a few hours.  

Friday, August 29, 2014

fueled up

Fuel for the long weekend! #yum #coffeeMy long weekend started last night.

Four days off feels pretty good.  I must say, it also feels a little decadent, having just returned to work last week after 2 weeks of vacation but I don't care, I'll enjoy it all the same.

Mark's still wearing his pump today.  He's feeling much better this round than the last two.  When he met with the oncologist he found out that his dose had been lowered a bit, which is probably why he hasn't been as sick.  Whatever the case, we're glad that he's not running back and forth to the bathroom or sleeping 'round the clock.  That was no fun.

We don't have any big plans for the weekend yet.  There are things we hope to accomplish in the yard and around the house but it'll be nice to not rush with them for a change.  I do like the slow pace of a long weekend and wonder if that's what retirement feels like.  I still have a way to go (like 20 years) before I can retire but still, I wonder sometimes.

In the meantime, have coffee will putter!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Chemo - Round 11

Chemo round 11. Only more to go #cancersucks #chemo
You may think that chemo would be more fun when you have a beautiful view of the lake wouldn't you? You would be wrong for thinking that. It's never fun, ever. The folks at the clinic are lovely and helpful and we're so grateful to have access to great care but honestly, we are both anxious to see this come to an end.  Today was round 11.  Just one more to go.  In two weeks and 46 hours, it'll be done.

We will not miss the clinic, or the view of the wind farm, or the sweet and awesome nurses, the friendly admin staff or the other patients and their families.  The sounds and smells of the cancer clinic, the pink parking passes, the long list of medications and doctor's appointments, I will gladly shove away into my memory somewhere.

In two weeks, and 46 hours, we will, with any luck, be able to put this all behind us.  Fingers, eyes, legs, everything is crossed.  

Sunday, August 17, 2014

we now return to regularly scheduled programming

It is super boring being super good while the furnace service guy is here #ilovemydogs #instacollage #eskie #sheltieWow, tomorrow morning we are heading back to work.

Where did the last 2 weeks go?? Seriously!

The first morning of my vacation, I made a list.  It wasn't a huge list, in fact at the time it seemed quite manageable.  I had a number of small things (and one sort of large thing) I wanted to accomplish around the house during the first week.  With Mark being home, a lot of them just didn't get finished (or started actually).

I did get pretty far along with my office organization project.  Pretty happy about that I tell you.  It's been a total disaster for about a year.  I never really finished unpacking and there are boxes which have been left, ignored, since our previous move (2005).  I managed to get everything that wasn't paper sorted out.  Stuff's been thrown out, donated or put in a proper place.  The papers are stacked up neatly in boxes, ready for me to go through them and either file, save (to re-review next year) or shred.  I'm saving those boxes for rainy or snowy days later in the year.  The weather is too nice to be spent inside with papers right now.

The upside of Mark being home for almost the whole two weeks is that I actually feel rested up. While he was sleeping, I found myself joining him for a nap here and there.  It was lovely and felt very decadent to sleep in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week. He's feeling better too, finally.  Really, I can't ask for anything more than that out of a vacation, spending time with Mark and the doggies and feeling relaxed and ready to go back to work. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

family reunion

Three Collis men! Mark, Malcolm & Ryan. Was so nice to see them (and the lovely Tanya) this morning!! #familyphotos #familyToday we had a little family reunion of sorts.

Mark's nephew Ryan was in town with his wife and son.  We met them for breakfast and had a nice visit.  We hadn't seen them in 3 years so it was good to see them, particularly little Malcolm.

15 years ago today, Mark's mum, Ida, passed away.  Spending time with family was good for Mark, I think it made the day a lot less sad.  Hopefully we won't have to wait another 3 years to see them again.

As they were leaving, we gave them a big box full of books, photos and some religious articles that belonged to Mark's dad Joe and Joe's dad, Harry. I think Ryan was surprised by how old some of things were but it's nice to see them going to family who are actually still connected to Judaism in a sort of formal way.  I think Joe would approve anyway.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Chemo - Round 10

Chemo round 10 & @taxichef would happily be ANYWHERE but here today. #cancersucks #cancerclinic #chemo"Having dental surgery without any freezing..."

"Slamming his hand repeatedly in the car door..."

"Being trapped in closet with Glenn Beck..."

"Um...Things Mark would have rather done than have chemo yesterday??"

 Yeah, yesterday was not fun.  Mark did not want to be at chemo.  I cannot blame him at all.  First of all, he has been so sick since leaving the clinic two weeks ago, he couldn't stand the idea of doing it again this week.  Secondly, this is a rough week for him, August 15 is the anniversary of his mum's death and the few days leading up to it are always really difficult for him.

Ordinarily, he and I both work in the morning before chemo but yesterday was weird.  We were home, farting around.  We got to chemo earlier than normal so we had more time to see the folks in the waiting room.  A little girl, maybe 5 or 6, was there running around with her brother while she received her chemo.  It was heartbreaking to see but at the same time, I thought, at least whatever she's got, they are treating her.  She could be a big success story but boy, it's difficult to see a child in the cancer clinic.

Eventually we got in there, Mark got hooked up and that pump couldn't click fast enough. He's feeling a lot better this go round.  He felt pretty good last night, slept well, and this morning, he's up at a decent time.  We've had coffee on the porch and so far, the day is going okay.  I'm happy to say that this week, the anticipation has been far worse than the actual event.  Just 2 more rounds to go.  We'll both be really relieved for this to be over.

Monday, August 11, 2014

kicking ass

Sammy loves his Etta Says deer chew! Thanks @barkbox #ilovemydogs #dogsofinstagram #eskie #americaneskimodogChemo continues to kick the ass of Mark.  I have never seen anything like it.  Sleep, sleep and more sleep.  We're both off anything resembling a schedule and the TV watching continues.  We recently finished up with The Wire and are getting ready to start into Oz.  Six seasons of guys beating the crap out of each other in prison.  I have a feeling it's not going to be anything like my beloved Bad Girls.

As vacations go, this one has been very restful but it would have been nice to have Mark feeling better.

In other news, the dogs are each celebrating their birthdays this week so we'll have some sort of doggie celebration them for them before the week is over.  I'm sure they don't care that it's their birthday just so long as they get something good to eat (they are funny that way)!

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Happy Birthday Mum

Today is my mum's birthday & Gracie helped her open presents #goodgirl #dogsofinstagram #instacollage #ilovemydogs #sheltieToday is my mum's birthday.  Happy Birthday Mum!!

We stopped by for a visit and to give her a little gift earlier in the day.  She's having a relaxing day I think.  My brother was scheduled to arrive shortly after we left.  I felt a little bad that we couldn't stay until he got there.  We had the dogs with us and they were getting antsy to go (it was getting pretty hot by the time we left) and Mark wasn't feeling super fantastic either.

He ended up having to stay home from work on Thursday and Friday.  I'm not sure if this is all down to the chemo or if he's picked up a bug too but he's been sleeping, a lot.  Like more than I have ever seen, even after surgery.  The upside of the sleeping is that when he is asleep, he isn't having stomach distress so at least that's something.

When he's not sleeping, we're just hanging around the house with the dogs, binge-watching tv shows we've had saved up for a while.  Over the past couple of days we got through the final episodes of "Halt and Catch Fire" and "Fargo."  Fargo was incredible, Halt and Catch Fire... well it left me a bit "meh."  I worked for a software company right out of college so a lot of what was portrayed took me back to those crazy mid-80's days.  The company I worked for sold flow charting software and I remember how HUGE a deal it was for us to offer mouse support for our product.  By the time I joined the company, we had 5 1/4" and 3 1/2" inch floppies but just prior to me joining, they were selling 7" floppies too.  I think if it gets a second season, we'll probably watch it for the amusement factor but I really didn't give a crap about any of the characters by the time season 1 wrapped up.

Now that we are both officially on vacation, I'm not sure what we will get upto.  It's going to depend entirely upon how Mark's feeling.  He has chemo again next week which should be interesting. Hopefully he'll be rested up and ready to go again by Wednesday.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

15 years

bride and groomPoor Mark.  He's been absolutely miserable for days.

Yesterday, he went into work and actually got through the whole day but I really wished he hadn't.  Last night was very rough.  I didn't let him go into work.  He'd not slept at all and quite frankly, it would not have been safe for him to be behind the wheel in the state he was in.

Happy Anniversary huh?? Yes, today is our anniversary.  We met on this day in 1999, 10 years later, we did it up all legal and got married in our back yard, Sammy and Gracie (and some friends and family) witnessed it for us so it's all official.  Neither of us could have ever anticipated that we'd been dealing with the fallout from round 8 of chemo on our 15th anniversary but here we are.  This is the latest in a long line of challenges we have had to face since we got together.

By mid-day, Mark had perked up a bit and he really wanted us to go do something.  We went out for a late lunch/early dinner at a sushi place we like.  It was a really lovely meal and all of that rice and veggies seemed to settle his stomach. 

Next year we will do something a little more exciting than a sushi lunch.  This year has been all about getting through this treatment and putting cancer behind us, once and for all.  Not wishing my life away but it'll be nice to get to the end of the summer and finish this up!

Friday, August 01, 2014

all I ever wanted?

Say hello to my little friend. #bunny #homesweethomeOkay, so I'm on vacation.  Officially.

I'm scheduled to be away from work for two weeks.  Mark will be off with me for the second week.  We started off the holiday weekend with a visit to St. Elizabeth Health Care on the way home.  Mark had his pump taken off and his PICC line sorted out.

If he's going to feel lousy from the chemo, it's normally the worst on Saturday morning after having the pump removed.  By Saturday, normally, the full dose is settling in and the side-effects begin.  The bad stuff seems to be starting early this week.  He's feeling like hammered poo at the moment. It's quiet in the house right now and he's snoozing with Gracie in our room. 

My hope is that a good sleep tonight will help him feel better tomorrow.  It's really difficult to see him like this.  I'm glad he's got the extra day off to rest.  

In other news, the bunny we have been watching through the front window all summer was outside when we pulled into the driveway today.  He's pretty cute (I say "he" but really, it could be a she I suppose) and actually didn't run away when I pulled out my phone to snap a photo.  Hopefully, that's a good sign huh??

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Chemo - round 9

Round 9 of Chemo today. More fun than you can imagine! #cancersucks #chemo @kghconnectSo round 9 of chemo is happening now.  As you know if you've been reading here for a while, Mark gets a big dose at the cancer clinic and then wears a pump for 46 hours to get the second half of it. This is repeated very 2 weeks.

It feels like it's going to be a very very long 46 hours.  Poor Mark felt really sick all through chemo today.  We're not sure if the last dose was just too much (he felt pretty good up until the last day or so) but he started to feel woozy and yucky while he was in the chair this afternoon.  This doesn't normally happen and I hope it's not a sign of bad things to come.

If I have any say in it, he's going to be having a very quiet long weekend.  I think that everything is just starting to catch up with him.  I mean, he's had major surgery and chemo to deal with over the past seven months and honestly, we're still trying to get our heads around the death of our friend Tom.  His funeral is happening tomorrow and we can't be there because of chemo.

It's all just been a bit too much I think.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

a man of great promise

Last week, I'm not sure why, I started listening to the Style Council again.  I mean, I've never stopped listening to them but I revisited "Our Favourite Shop" again, for the first time in a long time, the entire album, on repeat.  One song in particular stuck in my head and I went back and listened to it again yesterday morning while I had my coffee, "A Man of Great Promise."  I know that Paul Weller wrote it about a friend of his who had died from a heroin overdose and it's deceivingly upbeat, for such sad subject matter.

This afternoon we learned that a friend of ours, Tom, had died suddenly last night.  Apparently, he had a massive heart attack and died quickly.  Heart disease was in the family and the same thing had happened to his dad.  I think that perhaps Tom always felt that he would meet a similar fate so he never really took care of himself.  He probably smoked too much and he definitely drank too much.  He was a really good guy at his core but his demons got in the way of a lot of his relationships over the past couple of years.

Our Sammy was one being who never got upset with Tom.  Sam is a tough cookie, he doesn't like very many people and those he does like, he needs a lot of time to warm up to.  Very rarely, he'll meet someone and instantly connect with them, I've only seen it happen with a handful of people.  Tom was one of those rare people.  Sam loved Tom, he'd follow him around the house or sit on his feet when Tom would visit.  I think that says a lot about the true character of Tom, when a difficult dog like Sam loves you.

I'm still feeling numb and shocked by the thought that I'll never see Tom again.  I know it's worse for Mark because he would bump into Tom through their work a few times a week.  We'll both miss Tom, a lot.  Like Paul Weller's friend, Tom was a man of great promise.


Monday, July 21, 2014

stolen

First zucchini is off to a good start #container #gardening #homegrown @taxichefSomewhere in our sleepy little subdivision, a thief prowls among us.  We discovered it yesterday and we were quite disappointed.  It would appear that someone or something has made off with Mark's zucchini!! 

So typical, the first one on the plant and the first time in years that Mark's planted anything outside.  At at our last house, the summer before we adopted Sam, Mark had a little garden that yielded a nice amount of zucchini.  He wanted to do it last year but the yard was such a swampy mess that he didn't bother.  This year, we thought we'd try an experiment in "container gardening" because our neighbourhood is full of bunnies.  We used the dog's old swimming pool (which they NEVER used) and put it up on a patio table.  Foolishly, we thought it would be safe up there.  Last night, while he was grilling our dinner, Mark noticed that two of his tiny squash were missing.  I am hoping it was a bunny and not some kind of veggie devouring zombie!

I'm sure that there will be more to come but boy howdy, he was really looking forward to chomping on that first one!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Chemo - round 8

Round 8 of chemo is now behind us. 
Chemo round 8 today! Got one of the coveted lake view chairs #chemo #cancersucks #oohlala @kghconnect

So far, at least when I last talked to Mark this morning, so good.  We have discovered that each round is different.  Through trial and error, we're trying to figure out how to manage things for him.  Mark reacts to the dosage differently and the actual time spent in the chair at the clinic is never the same.  Yesterday, for example, was very noisy and vibratey.

George St @ King St will be closed for a while #ygk #traffic #kgh #noparking He was having a tough time getting comfortable in the chair when I arrived and while there were not many folks in the clinic for treatment, the volume level was at 11.  There is a big construction job happening on the corner of George and King Streets (the corner the Cancer Clinic sits on).  Work is being done on the water mains so there is a giant jack-hammer  hammering at the limestone beneath the pavement (we had the same thing happen one summer on the street in front of our previous home - the cost of living in the "Limestone City").   Every now and then, the jack-hammer would start up again and the whole building would vibrate.  There was a lot of noise but mostly, what we noticed was how much we were feeling the vibrations, in our feet, in our stomachs, in our heads.

At the same time, the gentleman in the chair next to Mark, was sparked out, snoring loudly.  It was actually kind of cute that in the middle of all of this noise, shaking and chaos, he was zonked out.  I was a little bit jealous of his fabulous napping skills.

As far as his side effects from the actual chemo goes, things seem to be better this round.  Mark started taking some of  his management meds preemptively, yesterday morning.  That seemed to help a lot with the nausea and diarrhea.  Of course, his energy level is still lower than he'd like it to be but he's actually at work today.  This is the first time in four sessions that he's been able to do that.  We had resigned ourselves to the fact that he was going to need to schedule chemo Thursdays off for the remaining weeks of his treatment.  Looks like that won't have to be the case.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

hot dog, jumping frog, Albuquerque

Stumbled across this video on the weekend.  I don't know that I had ever seen it before but this song was one I LOVED when I first got my hands on "From Langley Park to Memphis" back in 1988.

It's raining here today, and dull and kind of dreary.  This is such a fun video that I feel it's impossible to let the gloomy day get you too down after watching.  I mean, c'mon, it's got dancing hot dogs in it!!

Enjoy!

Friday, July 11, 2014

reach into your mind

Excellent mail day courtesy of @polyspree #music #loveToday was an awesome mail day. It was particularly awesome because a parcel arrived and I was not expecting it. A while ago now, I participated in a Kickstarter campaign to help the wonderful and amazing Polyphonic Spree fund their "Yes, It's True" album.  As part of that project, they wanted to complete a concert film they had started in 2012.  I received my copy of the album last summer.  This parcel contained a live version of the album and a DVD copy of the concert. It's more than a concert actually, it's a "year in the life" of the band.

While I would love to be able to take a month long vacation, head to the states and follow the band around while they tour this summer, that is not going to happen.  Instead, later tonight, I'll have be happy to watch this amazing concert, with Mark and the doggies, in the comfort of my own living room and I won't be worrying about folks getting pissed off because I'm singing along, loudly and off key.

Thanks Polyphonic Spree, love you guys to the moon & back!!  

Thursday, July 10, 2014

no hot dogs

If I read one more story about dogs or children dying in hot cars I think I will SCREAM!!

Please folks, have a little bit of common sense.  If you're uncomfortable in the car, imagine how your pets are going to feel.  Leave them at home in this weather.  Our dogs are happier napping in front of the air conditioner with a big bowl of ice cubes than they would be out traipsing around with us. 

I wrote this post last summer and would like to encourage you to read it again.

Take the OSPCA's "No Hot Pets" Pledge this summer.  They will even send you a nifty sticker for your car which has the OSPCA emergency number.  If you see hot pets in parking lots, take action, please, and help save a life!!

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Forever Anthony

I was saddened to read that Mesach Taylor had died.  Years ago, I was a huge Designing Women fan and I particularly liked his character Anthony Bouvier.  The relationship between Anthony and Delta Burke's Suzanne Sugarbacker made for some comedy gold.  I know he had a long and varied career but I'll always remember him as Anthony.  Rest in peace Mr Taylor.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

the day after

Chemo feet, well feet waiting for chemo #shoes #blissphotoaday #blissdomcaWell, where did that 24 hours go??

Finally, at the moment, I think that the patient is starting to feel better.  Had a rough night last night.  Lots of stomach issues, not a lot of sleep.

This morning, Mark was scheduled to go back to work but I wouldn't let him.  We both just had a quiet day.  Got caught up on our sleep.  Napping in front of the air conditioner actually felt pretty good.

I've been on vacation all weekend but am not accomplishing much.  The "to do" list I had for myself will just have to wait.  None of it was urgent, just things which I would have liked to get to.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Chemo - round 7

Text 7 to Canadian chemo Idol to vote for @taxichef #chemo #cancersucks #cancerclinic #round7Chemo during your vacation is not really any more fun for the patient than it is when you receive it on a regular day.  I would actually venture to say that this week's chemo was a little harsher on Mark than it normally is.  The odd thing about that (and we're not 100% sure at the moment) his oncologist was going to decrease the dosage slightly this week.  About halfway through today's session, Mark started to feel weak.  That hasn't happened before.  Perhaps the weather is having something to do with that.  It was pretty steamy and humid today outside today (it was comfortably cool in the clinic) which may have zonked him a bit.  Not sure. 

Since we got home, he's continued to feel weak.  He did eat a bit of dinner and had a little nap earlier.

Fortunately, he received a prescription for a new anti-nausea medication that his pharmacist suggested.  If he takes it in advance of his next round, he should notice a difference.  Sure hope he does anyway.  Each round just gets a little rougher on him.

Thank goodness he's only got 5 more of these to go through.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

happy place

Well ventilated room #ygk #construction #brickwall #windows We've been having a lovely, quiet weekend at home so far and it has been lovely.  Early morning coffee on the porch is something we've been looking forward to all year.  It's green and peaceful in the morning.  We can sit quietly and listen to the birds calling out throughout the neighbourhood and watch the squirrels, chipmunks and rabbits running around.  Who needs TV when the floor show in the yard is so much fun.

One thing I was not expecting was for the truly summer-y weather to arrive so fast.  I never do very well when it's really humid.  You would think that growing up along the shore of Lake Ontario, I'd have adjusted by now but really, I haven't.  It slapped me in the face again this year, just like it does every year, and while I'll be okay in a few days, the adjustment period is always kind of gross.

Mark is feeling much better this weekend.  The new meds are working well and he's got his energy back.  Yesterday, he got the yard work done that he wanted to do and right now, he's in at the rental house, doing a couple of things before our new tenants move in.  It's nice to see him happy again, he was so miserable last weekend. 

He has chemo again this week and hopefully, with the new meds he has, it won't be too horrible.   Good or bad, every round is a new adventure and just keep trying to stay focused on the end. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

better and better

High lighted danger #ygkFinally, I think Mark's starting to feel a bit better. He went back to work yesterday and the new meds he got from the cancer clinic seem to be helping. His stomach is starting to settle down a bit. 

They gave him a super mega high dose of loperamide which is helping.  Funny thing was, they also sent him a prescription for the one anti-nausea drug he cannot take (because it makes him have more nausea - go figure) but the loperamid is helping and he's no longer afraid to eat which is huge. 

For the past couple of nights, he's been able to sleep and he even got part of the lawn mowed on Monday afternoon (although I think he did too much) which made him feel better mentally.  The whole thing is just exhausting, physically and emotionally.  My hope is that he won't have another "lost weekend" like we just had, again.  It's really hard to watch him going through it, especially when there isn't anything at all that I can do to help.  For all of the information we received about chemo, they really did not prepare us for this.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

long weekend

Poor Mark is still feeling like a bowl of soggy noodles.  Actually, he'd probably say "hammered shit" but either way you describe it, it's not good.

We both went back to work on Friday but I think he should have probably stayed home.  He's been sick all weekend.  The physical part of the sickness is making him crazy.  He is beating himself up because he wants to be outside mowing the lawn.  He's too weak to even think about it and I have had to keep sending him back to bed every time he starts talking about it.  He's a strong guy, a lot stronger than I would probably be if I were in the same situation. Surgical recovery was easier on him than this has been and it's getting to him.

Fortunately, he's sleeping a lot.  I know he's very weak and tomorrow morning, we need to call the cancer clinic and get something for his symptoms.  We've been told that there is no good reason for nausea and diarrhea during chemo, that they have stuff to control it.  Mark has agreed that no matter how he feels in the morning, he'll stay home from work tomorrow.  I want him to get really rested up before he heads back to work.  Hopefully he'll be able to try some new meds too.  We have got to get in front of this.  I'm afraid that if he stays this sick, he'll end up in the hospital, dehydrated, electrolytes all out of whack.

The treatment is obviously not as horrible as the disease but boy, we're really starting to understand why some folks just say no to chemo.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Chemo - round 6

Chemo round 6So we have just passed the half-way point for Mark's chemo.

He has completed 6 rounds and has 6 to go.  Apparently, according to the doctor, the first 5 were "easy" and things are going to get tough from here on out.

If last night was anything to go by, I guess he's not wrong, although I'd hoped he was.  This round seems a lot different from the first 5 and Mark's feeling rough.  Really rough.  We've both been up most of the night and are both staying home from work today.  Hopefully we'll be able to get some sleep. 

Not sure what it is about night time but somehow, daylight seems to make things better.  The sun will be up soon and I'll try to get some tea and toast into him.  If his stomach settles, we'll both be able to sleep, I hope. 

Times like this are difficult and you find yourself questioning decisions you made.  We know that he has to stick with chemo and see it through to the end but honestly, this is pretty bad. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

buzzed

Cool CutThis weekend, we shaved what was left of Mark's long hair off.

Before I met him, he used to shave his head every few years but since we'd been together he'd been growing it out.  It got quite long and we only very occasionally trimmed the ends.

Chemo seems to be catching up with him a bit and we've noticed that his hair was starting to fall out, little by little, over the past couple of weeks.  On Saturday morning, I was sitting outside with the dogs and Mark walked into the porch with the clippers in his hand.  We grabbed a lawn chair and went outside to do the job. 

It took a bit longer to get it finished than I thought.  By the end, Mark had a lot of hair in his hands.  We put most of it in the compost bin but some of it did get blown away and I'm sure will end up in neighbourhood bird nests. 

The breeze was pretty cool on Saturday and he did feel a bit chilled at times.  All weekend, he kept reaching up for his hair but it wasn't there.  To be honest, I think that he looks a lot healthier and younger with the hair gone.  It was getting pretty straggly and he looked unwell and dragged down by it.  He's thinking about leaving it this way, even after chemo is done. It was weird though, this morning when we were getting ready for work, for me to not braid his hair.  It's something we've done every morning for almost 15 years and it felt odd to not do that today.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Chemo - Round 5

Chemo round 5 - killing cancer cells with bacon #cancersucks #cancerclinic #chemo @kghconnectIt almost feels like we're starting to get the hang of this chemo stuff, at least the clinic part anyway.  When I arrive to meet Mark, I no longer need to give my name, the ladies in the reception area know me. 

This week's visit to the Cancer Clinic was quiet.  It was nice actually after the last couple of visits.  Even though it was only the 5th time we've been there (and I think there are folks there who have visited the place a lot more than we have), you quickly get into a routine with it.

During today's visit, there was a newbie receiving her orientation information (while she received her first treatment).  It was interesting to hear the conversation and we chuckled quietly to ourselves at parts of it.  We have both learned a lot, through trial and error, about how to deal with certain aspects of chemo and much of the advice we received during Mark's first treatment was not super helpful.  The orientation does give you a basic starting point though.  The rest of it, you just figure out as you go along.

In other, non-chemo news, today is the 48th Anniversary of the day my parents were married.  Happy Anniversary Mum & Dad!!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Chemo - Round 4

Chemo round #4 - 2 months down, 4 months to go! #cancersucks #cancerclinic #chemo #kgh @kghconnectToday was round 4 of Mark's chemo.

I'd be lying if I said that it wasn't starting to get to him.  We try to focus on the fact that he's 2 months in now, with only 4 to go.  33% of the way through.

He's been having a lot of nausea since the last session and his energy level is taking a beating.  They keep telling us that the medication he's receiving accumulates in his system and that this is part of the normal process.  I think it's discouraging for him because he's thinking, if I feel this lousy after only 2 months, how will I feel at 4 months... and at 6.  Fear of the unknown is a powerful thing and it's hard not to wonder.

My hope is that he's just had a bad patch these past few days and that it will get better.  Overall, I'm very proud of what he has accomplished.  I don't think too many folks could continue to work every day, and do the stuff he's been doing in the garden recently, while taking chemo.  Perhaps this is just his body's way of telling him to slow it down a bit.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

We'll miss you Mr Mowat


I was sad to hear the news that Farley Mowat, a true Canadian national treasure, had passed away.

He was 92 years old and lived an incredible life. 

Once, a long time ago, I had an opportunity to meet him.  Back in my radio days, he visited the station for an interview with Erin O'Donnell and Marisa Dragani.  He was quite a character, sweet, funny, and I remember that he gave us all a quick smooch before he left.  We were all a little star struck, after all, he was a living legend.

What I liked most about Farley Mowat was how "un-Canadian" he was.  He wasn't always sweet and polite, he was controversial, he was feisty, full of piss and vinegar and he broke that stereotype of the meek and mild Canadian.  Farley Mowat was a shit disturber of the highest order and we don't have enough of those in our neck of the woods. 


Chemo - round 3

Kicking ass and taking names - chemo round 3! #cancersucks #kgh #cancerclinic @kghconnectChemo day again today.

Third time's a charm?  Well I wouldn't say that but we seem to be figuring out how things work.

Honestly, the level care Mark's been receiving at the Cancer Clinic has been terrific.  The staff are generally great and the facility is lovely.  Overall, the patients and their family members are very friendly, without being nosy, and seem to be genuinely respectful of each other. 

The past couple of weeks have gone pretty well for Mark.  He seems to be adjusting to this new routine, the PICC line and all that it brings with it, very well.  It's hard to believe that we're already 6 weeks into this.  We're both keeping our fingers crossed that things continue to go as smoothly over the next few months.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Happy Birthday M.D.S.

Me and my dad circa 1968Today is my dad's birthday.  If you would like to know how old he is, I'll just say this, he was born the same day and year as Barbra Streisand. 

I love this picture of us.  My mum told me that I had measles when this picture was taken (I think it's Easter weekend 1968). 

When we were little, my dad was SO MUCH FUN.  Seriously, he would play games with us, be silly with us, actually act like a kid.  Looking back, from the ripe old age of 46 I realize now that he was not much more than a kid himself.  He was 25 when I was born.  When I think about some of the stunts I pulled when I was in my 20's, I can see why he was so much fun.  I can remember him getting into water fights with the neighours, building us wooden stilts, creating an elaborate slide made of ice in the winter, waking me up late at night to watch old movies with him... we may not have had all of the money in the world but looking back, we didn't miss out on a thing.

Happy Birthday Dad, or, as Aunt Marge Quigley would write, "Happy Birthday M.D.S." I love you to the moon and back!!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Chemo - Round 2

Chemo round 2. #cancersucks @kghconnect #kghrocks #chemoSo round 2 of chemo was very similar to round 1!

Mark was lucky enough to have the same nurse (the fabulous Bev) and ended up in the same chair as last time. It was nice to have this familiarity for our second visit.  Not to mention, we are constantly impressed with the level of care he is receiving.  We feel very lucky to be so close to a facility like this.

In addition to receiving the actual chemo, some weeks he is going to see the doctor or resident.  Part of the process also involves him going in the day before (or the morning of chemo) to have blood drawn.  If his white cell count is good, he can have his chemo.  If it's not, he can't.  So far, he's been good for both visits. 

My office is right across the street from the cancer clinic so I'm able to pop over and sit with him while the bags drip, drip, drip.  After his first visit, he had some pretty strong nausea about an hour after we left the clinic.  Tonight it didn't take that long.  He started to feel symptoms from the chemo on the drive home.  We made it home, but just barely, before he was sick.  For the next round, we may need to get them to up his anti-nausea medication.  We really don't want to cut it much closer than we did today, that would be good for no one!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Grandpa Shanks

me and my grandpaThis is my favourite photo of me and my grandpa.

I know I have shared it here before.

He passed away when I was 17, I was probably around 2 when this photo was taken, on Merrick Street in Smiths Falls.

Today is his birthday and while it's not the only day of the year that I think about him, I think about him often, it seems more significant to share a photo or a memory about him on April 20.

For the last few years of his life, my grandpa lived with us.  He had sold the family house in Smiths Falls and moved to Amherstview after my grandma passed away.  Him living with us provided my brother and I with a special opportunity my cousins didn't have.  Probably because he lived with us and likely because we were a bit older than most of our cousins, we have more memories about him.  When you live with someone every day, and, in particular, when you help to be a care giver to someone at the end of their life, you get to know them as a person and not a mythic grandparent.  I feel priviledged to have known my grandpa as a man, wise and honourable, strong and principled.  I wish that we had a few more years together, so he could have known me as an adult and so I could have known him better.

To me, it's almost unbelievable that it is almost 30 years since he passed away.  It almost seems unreal.  I take comfort in knowing that in the end, he understood how much we loved and respected him.  Happy Birthday Grandpa.

Friday, April 18, 2014

a good Friday

I awoke this morning with a long list of things that I'd hoped to accomplish today.

It's now late afternoon and I haven't even made a dent in the list.

It's still a good Friday though.  Any Friday that is a holiday, is a good one in my books.  We had a very very relaxing day.  I think we both needed a break after this week.

My cold finally feels like it's on the way out.  From time to time, I'm still coughing, but it's definitely happening a lot less frequently.  I'm sleeping better too, which is probably why I'm feeling better.  Sleep, you wonderful healer you, I missed you so much!!

Mark's doing a lot better now than he was earlier in the week.  He had his PICC line cleaned again and the dressing changed on Wednesday.  His arm was really bruised around the line and we couldn't figure out why.  Apparently, the person who changed his dressing last week, had not let his skin dry properly and the bandage had created a bubble and that made everything shift around a lot and caused the damage.  Mark's no longer having any pain around it and hopefully the bruising will be gone in time for his second chemo day, next Wednesday.  His stomach has settled down now that we're being more careful about what he's eating. So far, he's really not (touch wood) had any of the side effects we were warned about.  I take this as a good sign that he'll tolerate the rest of the chemo well. I hope I'm not fooling myself!!

In honour of a lovely Friday, spent with my hunny, I thought I would share this blast from the past with you all. Shocked me to realize that this song is now 22 years old.  Oh well, it's still as much fun (to me) today as it was all those years ago.  Enjoy!


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Happy Birthday

Yesterday was Mark's birthday.  This year, we decided, for a number of reasons, we were going to not really celebrate our birthdays (mine is next month) until the summer.

Right now, we have a lot of stuff on our plates and we both feel like we'll be in a better position to really celebrate in June or July.  Having said that, over the weekend, we did have a really lovely meal (that Mark cooked) on Sunday.  At times, I could actually taste and smell my meal.  We had grilled shrimp and veggies, so delicious!! Tasting and smelling are not things to be taken for granted.  I have been suffering with a nasty headcold for about 10 days now and I literally dragged my butt around all weekend.  On Saturday, we did some errands but on Sunday, I only got up off the couch to drag stuff back and forth to the washing machine.

A wild weekend indeed!

On Mark's actual birthday, yesterday, there was no cake, no balloons, not a hoop or a lah.  We were both sick.  I couldn't talk at all (had lost my voice from the coughing and had not slept a wink on Sunday night).  Mark was sick to his stomach (just a tip from us to you, read the list of foods to avoid during chemo BEFORE you start chemo - the spicy foods he loves are not his friends right now).  It was a pretty lacklustre birthday for sure.

When the time comes that we're both feeling perkier and happier, we'll celebrate properly.  In the meantime, we're both just adjusting to the changes we've made in the household to accommodate the chemo and continuing to take things one day at a time.


Friday, April 11, 2014

out damned pump

Mark just had his pumped removed.

He's feeling a bit lighter for not having to carry it around but his arm is pretty sore.  We stopped off (I say "we" but I actually vegged out in the car, this cold is not getting any better) on the way home so he could have the community nursing folks take it out and flush his PICC line. 

It was a busy spot but I'm sure it's easier to stop off there than it is to wait around at the house for someone to show up and do it for us there.

So far, so good, as far as chemo side-effects go.  If he starts to feel rotten over the weekend, we don't have much planned so he can just rest up.

I know that is what I'd like to do because I will be a much happier camper when I can talk, without choking again.