Wednesday, August 31, 2005

David's hair is still hanging on...

Maybe it's a little early to say, but chemotherapy hasn't affected his hair follicles thus far!

There are other side-effects, but hair loss hasn't been one of them.

ADDITION: Friday, Sep 2

I spoke too soon -- David's hair started falling out today:

Dave's Logbook: Notes From the Irradiated

Random Notes

The Lost Package Saga
  • Background story started here, and continued here, here, continued over in David's blog, and a follow-up over at Breigh's blog. We've been either getting the runaround at the hospital or phoning EVERY DAY since David was released on August 19. I can't even count how many people we've dealt with, but it's in the double digits, for sure. After a week and a half, it's pretty safe to assume someone has taken it. David was finally contacted by a manager at Mercy Hospital yesterday, offering to compensate the money if a receipt and tracking number is produced. We're sorry this happened, Breigh -- we'll get that money back to you!
The House
  • I've been doing yardwork, eg., trimming hedges (we have two BIG ones out front, three on the side, one in the back) and mowing the lawn and various things. But there's so much weeding and other landscape-type jobs yet to be done. These are all things I never had to do while apartment living, but now that I'm in a house the maintenance involved is nuts.
  • David blogged about our new futon (thanks again Mom!), which is a vast improvement over the couch which never fully recovered from all of Hugh's bedwetting. We tried cleaning it every which way, but if you've got a cat you know how toxic kitty urine is. I even called the Salvation Army to haul it away, and they wouldn't take it! That's how awful it was!
  • I've been shampooing the carpets because Hugh's toxic pee has permanently permeated the fibres, but David suggests we hire a professional outfit because it's a job for the Big Guns now.
  • I'm slowly winning the war against the retention of old bachelor items from "back in the day" -- David's days, that is. College days, and the days of railing against aesthetics, I say, since I can't imagine some of this stuff being appealing in any era. I'll spare you all the gory photos. Think 'House of Usher'-style lamp, a baffling green and orange crocheted doily, kitschy ashtray...
Me: "David, you don't even smoke!"
Him: "It was here when I bought the house."
  • The kitchen is still partially renovated. It looks 100% better, but a long ways off from presentable.
  • I still have furniture to varnish -- the dining room chairs, upstairs cabinet, bedside cabinets -- and I want to rip out the awful carpets if the hardwood underneath can handle it.
  • I've decided I need help with the house, so I'm going to call a housekeeping service to come in maybe once a week. That way I can at least get the renovations going again.
Chemotherapy and Radiation
  • David's appetite has taken a steep dive, but I'm making an effort to get him eating properly. The oncologist warned us the chemotherapy has a tendency to make a patient's weight drop, so we have to prevent that from happening, even if it means high-calorie foods. We bought a blender yesterday so I can make David smoothies and get him ingesting nutrients that way instead of trying to force him to eat. At least he isn't nauseous like he was the first weekend out of the hospital, but often he loses interest in food and just doesn't want to eat. I have to tempt him all the time.
  • David's completed four full days of radiation, twice a day, and he has another six to go. The treatments are at 7:45am and 1:45pm, so it means early starts for us and I can practically do the trip now with my eyes closed. Every time I drive him to the Radiation and Oncology Clinic, I take advantage of their free automatic espresso and coffee machine and trashy tabloid magazines. I had to dig for those, under Field and Stream (a jarring early morning reminder that I'm ensconced in rural Pennsylvania).
  • We're by far the youngest people at the clinic; we're very conspicuous there because everyone else has white/grey hair. It's no wonder the radiologist couldn't believe David has small cell lung cancer: "You don't smoke??"
  • Yesterday morning the radiation machine BROKE, and the technician lives two hours away, so the whole day was moved forward. I hope this doesn't happen often.
  • They've been giving David a new drug via injection 15 minutes prior to the morning treatment to deal with the esophageal burning, which helps.
  • They're monitoring David's vitals closely, before and after each radiation treatment. His blood pressure is good (apparently the injection has a tendency to lower it), but his blood counts are a bit low, hence extra diligence re: food, etc.
  • Chemotherapy is on a three-week cycle, so according to this schedule David should be starting another round at the end of next week. He has an appointment with the oncologist on Thursday, so we'll find out then.
  • The chemo nurse said no crowds and no small children because David's immunity is taking a beating with the effects of therapy, so we've been avoiding places like busy cinemas and malls. Netflix all the way!
  • I haven't finished the documentary "The Fog of War", but I will... my knowledge of the Vietnam War is sketchy at best. I wasn't familiar with the name Thomas McNamara before the film was released.
  • Tom Hank's "Castaway" = overrated. So much fuss over this movie, and why? I couldn't see him stuck on a desert island undiscovered for four years in this current era of global activity. Maybe 50 years ago, but not today.
  • "Garden State" = overrated, not to mention glaringly deficient in New Jersey accents. It had its moments, though, eg. the shirt-against-wallpaper scene. Some funny bits in the Special Features section, especially the Jewish culture jokes.
Diagnosis Aftermath
  • We've received a volume of cards, e-mail, phone calls, etc., that we're still trying to catch up on. If you've sent us something and haven't heard from us, we haven't forgotten, we're just behind!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Vandigicam FIGHT CLUB


This one's doctored by Filmgoerjuan. See here for comparison to the original movie poster.

We Miss You Gail

I'm VERKLEMPT -- how could I not be after seeing this???

Last Saturday the people in Vandigicam threw a farewell party for Laura, the lady who started the group back in March. She's seen Vandigicam grow and flourish, and in a day or so she'll be returning to her home in Atlanta -- earlier than planned. I really wished I could've been there to take part in the surprise bash, but it looks like they moved the mountain partway to Mohammed because Mohammed couldn't get to the mountain.

I went to New York over the weekend and phoned them briefly when I was sitting on a Central Park bench Saturday evening. I think they knew how much I wanted to be there, and that there was no reason more compelling than why I could not.

Long live photography!

Did I mention I was verklempt? What a stellar bunch of people! *sniff*

Friday, August 26, 2005

An order of heart disease, anyone?

There's an eatery here in Scranton called Coney Island Texas Lunch (check out their site, it's a hoot) where practically all they make are heart-disease-in-a-bun things called Texas Weiners. Code words for chili on hot dogs and deep-fried hamburgers marinated in chili. Note the puzzling references to places (Coney Island, Texas) not in Pennsylvania.

Click on the picture and check out the menu.

We went here the other day for nostalgia reasons, and so David could get some stuff at the hobby store next door. While there, I thought to myself, 'How do I know it's 2005???' Nothing in there dated to the present. The decor, music, even the prices were from another era.

Today I was a charwoman. Tried to escape to New York City for some urban stimulation, plan aborted due to virtually non-existent cab service to bus station. Will try again tomorrow.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Vandigicam Bench, Kits Point

Vandigicam bench peeps
Vandigicam bench peeps,
originally uploaded by gail on the web.
We were very protective of "our" bench during HSBC Celebration of Light. This was before the China's fireworks, on Aug 3. Two days later, I was booking a flight to New York because they found a tumour in David's left lung.

Life changed literally overnight for David and me.

Here's a timeline:

Aug 5 (Fri) - after feeling ill for weeks, David finally goes to the ER, they X-ray him, find tumour, he calls me in Vancouver and I book a flight
Aug 6 (Sat) - fly from SeaTac to JFK, go straight to hospital, they can't find any doctors to biopsy him
Aug 9 (Tue) - biopsy, preliminary report is lymphoma
Aug 12 (Fri) - biopsy results in diagnosis of small cell lung cancer, for which the survival rate is a shocking 20%
Aug 16 (Tue) - meet with oncologist, he books David a bed at Mercy Hospital for immediate treatment
Aug 17 (Wed) - David gets tested for evidence of spreading and his first bout of chemotherapy
Aug 18 (Thu) - reports show there is no spreading into bones or brain
Aug 19 (Fri) - David is released to continue his treatment as an outpatient, official diagnosis is limited-stage small cell lung cancer

August 25: David's first day of radiology

This group photo makes me smile every time I look at it. It's also a "pre-diagnosis" photo. I'm trying not to think of time in terms of 'pre-diagnosis' or 'post-diagnosis', but it's how my brain keeps track of things involuntarily these days. I know each day forward is positive and over time the diagnosis date will slowly become less significant to us.

Here's to taking more photos, and celebrating the good times in our lives.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Artwork from the MJEs

Artwork credits:

Melissa - age 6
Michael - age 4 (nearly 5)
Madeleine - age 3 (nearly 4)

Previous exhibits.

artwork from the M's
artwork from the M's,
originally uploaded by gail on the web.

Left: "Dir David I hop you wil get betr soon Luve Melissa"

Click on the individual photos to read the notes the kids wrote.

artwork from the M's
I let Hugh out this afternoon. No, let me re-phrase that: Hugh dashed by me when I went to the front porch to get the mail. He was glad I was more pre-occupied with the lovely drawings from Melissa, Michael, and Madeleine than his escape to explore new frontiers in the backyard, but gave me a hiss when I tried to make him go inside.


But, we eventually reached a compromise when I placed the drawings on the steps and he let me take his photo beside his drawn self. Can this kitty be any more vain?

The Saga Continues

The past few days have been to-and-fro, so herein lies a summary.

First of all, Breigh is wondering where her package went, and so are we. Today marks the FIFTH day that David and I have tried to track it down. I was unsuccessful Saturday and Sunday, David inquired on Monday, I navigated the intestinal corridors yesterday and came up empty-handed, then David returned again today:

New Schedule and Purloined Package

We don't understand why it's been so difficult to track down this package. Volumes of mail and such come into the hospital, are we just the victims of bad luck here? Or, does efficiency and organisation not reach subterranean levels? (The mail room/receiving department is in a corner of a maze that is the basement.)

David made contact with the manager this afternoon, who says he's investigating. At least David found out who T. Lydon is -- it's a guy in the mail room, not a nurse. I think nurses have more sense!

In other news:


- called some friends in Europe in the morning
- decided to scale down the wedding
- decided to cancel the receptions here and in Vancouver
- will try and book hotel closer to the house for a small ceremony and dinner Oct 1
- drove David to radiologist to they could mark up his body
- futile trip to the hospital #3 (for package)
- David's appetite finally kicks in after I tempt him with lunch at Circle's in Wilkes-Barre
- we go to David's office for the first time after his diagnosis
- we talk to our immigration lawyer about my visa issues
- we try and boost our spirits with the bodacious-as-ever Margaret Cho performing her latest show Revolution on Netflix DVD.


- futile trip to the hospital #4
- I enter the time warp that is the Coney Island Texas Weiner lunch counter
- stop in at the Radisson - Lackawanna Station to try and book a small room for our scaled-down wedding ceremony and dinner
- e-mailed vendors in Vancouver to cancel October 8 reception, and try to hold onto our deposits to book next year
- David's radiologist warns: 'No spicy food, no alcohol', so I make him tandoori chicken
- our comic relief via Netflix continues, with Jerry Seinfeld's documentary, Comedian.


- a morning phone call from the radiologist requests us to come in today instead of Friday for radiation equipment prep, radiation begins early tomorrow morning instead of Monday
- futile visit to the hospital #5, but this time a manager is involved
- I go to Wegman's to get *REAL FOOD* (fresh lychees, longans, wasabi peas, brown basmati rice, Summerfresh humus, crystallized ginger, ginger tea, all-natural ginger beer, all-natural raspberry ginger beer, goat cheese, and more...)
- we receive cute pre-school artwork from the M's via the post
- we're both tired, and have to be up early... can we make it through the documentary Fog of War without falling asleep?

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Matzoh at Mom's

my baby, Penny
my baby, Penny,
originally uploaded by MonaPenny.
Meet Penny, the most spoiled cat ever. But is that any wonder? Guess who spoils her?

We went to Mom's house this evening, as is our custom on Sunday. David's been having a rough time of it, so she whipped up the classic Jewish medicinal remedy of remedies: matzoh ball soup. It's legendary for curing anything and everything -- allergies, hangovers, hangnails, hangups, what-have-you... get a little matzoh meal in your kishka and feel a little more Jewish and a little less achey. (And even when you feel better you are still culturally obligated entitled to kvetch in a manner fit for an episode of Seinfeld.)

Of course, there was much more than matzoh ball soup. There was also apple sauce, cookies, milkshakes, gummie bears, clam chowder, chicken broth, Italian bread, and -- well, I lost track after the gummie bears. We left the house with more bags of food than we get on the average trip to the grocery store.

Speaking of bowels by the way, further to the saga that is Breigh's gift to David that arrived after he was released on Friday, I am unhappy to report it appears to have been lost in the bowels of Mercy Hospital. I returned there today, as instructed by the receptionist, and the regular receptionist took me for another wild goose chase, this time in the volunteers' office where the package had allegedly been (mis)placed. We rummaged around together but to no avail. After some phone calls up to the 9th floor nurses' station where the package was signed for, it was concluded that the only place it could be is the Mail Room....

*drum roll*

... which is only open during business hours. Yep, I was told to come back tomorrow, again. I'm sorry, Breigh! I tried! If I don't get the package tomorrow, heads will roll.

In technology news, I am pleased to report that David successfully set up BROADBAND for Mom's WebTV -- now MSN-TV -- and she is now able to read our blogs, look at our photos, and play online Scrabble without worrying that she's missing a call from us or anyone else. It plays video, internet radio stations, and Microsoft propoganda at lightning speed.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Hugh, You're Fired!

beggar in a tuxedo
beggar in a tuxedo,
originally uploaded by gail on the web.
Had to go buy mouse/rat poison at the grocery store today -- I found mouse droppings in the cupboard. The regular mousetraps just seemed so... inhumane. Although, when you see what rodent poison does, that doesn't seem like a preferable way to pass on, either. But it's secondary to the thought of mice turds touching my food.

If Hugh would just get his arse in gear, I wouldn't have to make these murderous decisions!

In other ARGH! news I went to the hospital today to pick up a package that Breigh sent to David in the hospital, but must've arrived after we checked out yesterday afternoon. Coincidentally, when I was talking to Breigh on the phone today, the hospital left a message telling us the package was sitting there! When I got down there, the receptionist informed me that the volunteer office where it would be was locked, and nobody was there to open it.

I was incredulous. "Doesn't anyone have the key?"

I was already surprised because I called the hospital after hearing the phone message and was told to go to the receiving department. The information desk receptionist didn't even know they HAD a receiving department ("I'm new! I've only been here a couple of months!"), and had to ask the hospital telephone operator. The operator didn't even know where it was! Mercy Hospital isn't very big -- 500 beds? Sigh.

We wandered the halls of the hospital, looking for somebody to let us into the office, but the area was deserted. The receptionist said the only place where a key would be was the information desk, and she didn't have it.

Wild goose chase. Better than a wild mouse chase, I suppose. Will try again tomorrow!!

Friday, August 19, 2005

Showing Mom the Funnies

showing Mom the funnies
showing Mom the funnies,
originally uploaded by gail on the web.
A photo from last night. Some friends Photoshopped David's pictures for comedic effect, and we showed them to his mom. All, even the raunchy ones. She got a big kick out of them!

A big thanks to those who wrote to David's mother, who was pleasantly surprised to receive mail from people she hadn't met before, but were people she felt she knew from seeing photos, reading their comments on our websites, and hearing stories (all good! I swear!).


David's home from the hospital, and hiccupping like crazy. It's one of the side-effects of chemotherapy, something we'd never heard of -- we only previously knew about nausea. Another one we didn't know about was sneezing, but it isn't happening as much.

Dave's Logbook - Home, Hopeful, and *hic*

We had a visitor drop by shortly after we arrived home, and I ducked out to pick up a FedEx package with a present of a drawing of Dave by Socar, which I'll take a photo of after we frame it. Thanks Socar! I also bought some ginger at Gerrity's, which should help with David's nausea. I think what's plaguing him worse than nausea right now is the hiccupping. When he started hiccupping yesterday we thought it was funny, but that's because hiccupping usually goes away. Now it's driving him up the wall.

Anyone have any proven techniques for stopping the hiccups?


David's been given his discharge papers, I'm off to pick him up...

Thursday, August 18, 2005


hospital kiss
hospital kiss,
originally uploaded by gail on the web.
The oncologist examined the results of the battery of tests they performed on David yesterday to determine whether the cancer had spread. Containment makes all the difference in the world right now.

David reported a little while ago that his brain scans and bone scans came back clear, and he will probably be released tomorrow instead of Saturday (yet to be confirmed).

This is a huge, huge relief.

They will continue with the chemo and radiation to shrink the tumour in his lung on an outpatient basis. The doc says with chemo, the tumour should "melt like butter".

We're Eating the USA!

we're eating the USA!
we're eating the USA!,
originally uploaded by gail on the web.
Thanks to Mrs. D and her delightful cookies, I got to taste the West Coast again and David got to take a bite out of the East.

His first day at the hospital was a busy one:

Dave's Logbook - Day One

For people wondering, there's no internet access in David's room. I took my computer along to the hospital, David typed up his journal entry, and I posted it after I got home.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

David, still smiling

David, still smiling
David, still smiling,
originally uploaded by gail on the web.
David had scans all day today of his entire body and a bout of chemotherapy, so I haven't seen him yet. I'll go to the hospital in about an hour and bring my PowerBook so he can write about it and I can post his text when I get home.

This photo was taken at home on Monday night with David's old Pentax SLR. I didn't use a tripod, so I'm surprised it came out at all, what with our hideous kitchen lighting. I had to do some post-production in Photoshop for colour correction, but at least I've learned enough PS to have some control over that. Beats buying filters.

It's one of my favourite photos of David so far. We're sitting on the kitchen floor, assembling an office chair that Mom Fielding generously bought for David to spare him from more back pain.

David's always been a reluctant portrait subject, but he's indulging me more these days. I want people to see more of him and know how much I love him.

The Wedding Rings Make an Appearance in Our Time of Need

the wedding rings, at Mercy Hospital

We're supposed to get married in six weeks, but I think this is as good a time as any to wear our wedding rings.

David designed them himself, using the stones from his late grandmother's ring (which holds both her wedding and engagement stones, plus his mother's, 7 in all). They bring us familial comfort while David is in the hospital having chemotherapy and extensive testing done (bone and brain scans, etc.). This is a critical time, as this type of cancer has an alarming rate of spread and early treatment will make all the difference in the world.

We were assigned the best oncologist in the area (thank you FV for your referral), and we both felt utmost relief at how quickly the doctor secured a bed for David. I feel so much better knowing that David is getting immediate attention, but of course at the same time it's unnerving because the urgency means he's under very serious threat of cancer spreading to other parts of his body. In the seven days between the biopsy, the diagnosis, and the visit with the oncologist, David's symptoms intensified and until today he's only been treated with over-the-counter and prescription medicine to alleviate the pain. At least now he's getting therapy to shrink the tumour and not just painkillers. At the oncologist's office we were briefed by a nurse on chemotherapy and what types David will be given, I was given a booklet on chemotherapy, and also a book about lung cancer. The oncologist was everything we could expect in a specialist and we have confidence from our meeting with him (and other sources) that David is getting the best care possible.

For his workmates and other friends reading this site who are local to northeastern Pennsylvania, David is in Room 920 (9th Floor) until Friday or Saturday if you have time to visit (visiting hours are until 8:30pm):

Mercy Hospital Scranton
746 Jefferson Ave
Scranton, Pennsylvania 18501
T: 570-348-7100

Here are directions. David has a private room with a telephone, but he also has his mobile phone if you'd like to call him. He can also read e-mail on his phone. If you'd like to send an e-mail, it's his full name with no spaces at verizon dot net (to avoid spambots). I'll be in and out of the hospital every day, but I'll take photos and post updates when I can.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Have Mercy On Us, Mercy Hospital

This will be brief as we're about to go to the hospital, where David will be admitted right away to a private room on the 9th Floor.

David cyber-jotted some notes of our visit with the oncologist this afternoon:

Dave's Logbook - We Leap Into Action

We're both rather nervous, so I suggested we wear our wedding rings for comfort. (David designed them himself, last fall. I don't have a picture of his yet, but here's the drawing.) I've had my engagement ring since December, and I roll it around my finger when I'm deep in thought. David has a beautiful wedding ring that he hasn't been able to wear, and I think this is as good a time as any to put it on.

I'll write more later, after David gets settled in, visiting hours are over, and the nurses tell me to go home.


originally uploaded by gail on the web.
AviatorDave AviatorDave AviatorDave AviatorDave channelling De Niro

From Saturday's mission to find lakes. David's wearing his CAP golf shirt because we'd just attended the end of the "Camp Jeep" WWII aircraft display. The people fishing at Tobyhanna Lake probably thought he was a park warden coming around to inspect their license!

For some real fun David should've whipped out his anti-narcotics ID.

City Feet, Country Feet

city feet, country feet
city feet, country feet,
originally uploaded by gail on the web.
sunset over Lake Tobyhanna peaceful rusty links

Sticking our feet in Lake Tobyhanna on Saturday. Some relief after discovering Gouldsboro Lake had disappeared.

You can certainly tell which feet are which: mine are the ones trying to escape from the slitherers and the insects, David's are right at home.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Camp Jeep 2005

Camp Jeep 2005
Camp Jeep 2005,
originally uploaded by gail on the web.
I've finished uploading the photos from Camp Jeep yesterday. Click on the thumbnails to see the album.

Dave's Logbook - Camp Jeep

It was wonderful to find a lake later in the afternoon to wiggle our toes in and peer at fish. As David mentioned in his site, we were terribly disappointed to reach Gouldsboro only to come upon a dried-up lakebed, so I was on a mission to find a lake! (I can be a bulldog at such times!) That afternoon I wanted nothing more than to return to childhood and carefree summers.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

High Flight

High Flight
High Flight,
originally uploaded by gail on the web.
A poem from today's WWII airshow at Mt. Pocono Municipal Airport -- "Red White and Blue" -- sponsored by Jeep. (Click the pic to enlarge.) David says it's the most well-known flying poem there is, and ironically (for this airshow, anyway) it was written not by an American but a Royal Canadian Air Force pilot.


"John Gillespie Magee was one of many Commonwealth pilots flying in the Battle of Britain. The poem, High Flight, was in a letter he sent home to his mother. He was killed in his Spitfire in 1941, not in combat but in a midair collision in the clouds - at age 19."

Today was the second day of the airshow, we thought we'd catch the end of it and David could say hello to some of his flying buddies and the cadets from CAP Squadron 207.

I took about half a roll of film with David's old Pentax SLR, and shot the rest in digital with my Canon A80. David took along his Panasonic Lumix, so between us we had three cameras.

I haven't shot film since probably 2001, and hadn't picked up an SLR since high school. This was very evident when:

- I pressed the shutter button and discovered I'd forgotten to advance the film after the last frame
- I forgot to check the light meter on a couple of shots
- I forgot to put the lens cap on afterwards.

It'll be interesting to see how the roll turns out. I'm excited to be shooting with an SLR again, that's for sure. By forcing myself to dust the cobwebs off my brain and concentrate on framing my shots, it helped to pull my mind away from yesterday's devastating news and a sleepless night with disturbing thoughts.

Friday, August 12, 2005


driving Miss Gail
driving Miss Gail,
originally uploaded by gail on the web.
We got the news this afternoon.

Dave's Logbook

I WISH WISH WISH it weren't so. But it is, and we have to think positively. The doctors are shocked, we're shocked. On Tuesday we'll know how to proceed, re: treatment program.

This is the very first photo I took of us, in happier times, riding in the car on the way to the airport where the Tri-Pacer is stored. This is the weekend we met, when we knew we'd be together for the rest of our lives. Let's hope that's still a long, long time.

Things to Do While We Wait

Back yard
Back yard,
originally uploaded by AviatorDave.
Update at Dave's Logbook

So, we continue to wait, but I've taken it upon myself to transform the house because IT is driving me crazy, too. The house is from the 1940s and the exterior appears to be in decent shape, but the interior is ALL BACHELOR. David calls it the "Hunting Lodge" look, and frankly I'm embarrassed for anyone to step foot in our house as it is right now. I welcome all and sundry to visit, but not before I gut the place!

David's been too ill to look after the house, so I finally started tackling the cleaning with gusto and I even mowed most of the lawn yesterday. I haven't mowed a lawn since I was probably 14 years old! David watched me from the porch with much amusement ("those City Slickers") while I pushed our old gas mower (which might even be as old as the house) as fast as I could, trying to get as much of the lawn done before the sun completely disappeared.

I was planning to get out the weedwhacker (we called it a 'weedeater' when we were kids), but by the time I finished the front lawn it was nearly dark. I posted a picture link for the benefit of Eliza, by the way, who has never seen a weedwhacker, nor any other implements you'd find in a shed. Boy, she's going to get an eyeful when she comes to visit and sees our GARAGE!

I'd love to call one of those many home improvement programs and say, "Make over our house!" but I don't want to wait that long or have ourselves shamed all over TV-land ("You couldn't flog that at a yard sale!"), I'm going to start replacing and fixing things TODAY. Besides, it's something to do while we wait for the biopsy analysis.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Nosotros también miramos...

Nosotros también miramos...
Nosotros también miramos...,
originally uploaded by Gojulius.
How's your Spanish? Click on the pic for more. If you look closely, the innermost photo is Hugh.

It's something to look at while we wait for these cotton-pickin' biopsy results.

Where are the doctors, for crying out loud?!?!

David tried to reach the doctors in charge, and they're either away or altogether unreachable. He even tried to call CMC, but the doctor in charge there has no idea what's going on with David's file.

Frustrating beyond all belief.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Fingers Crossed

fingers crossed
fingers crossed,
originally uploaded by gail on the web.
I took this photo on July 13. It was on a whim, with the vague idea of using it for a post about the clock ticking towards our wedding date and hoping that USCIS will come through for us in time.

October 1 - wedding in Pennsylvania
October 8 - reception in Vancouver

We're still waiting to hear from USCIS as to the status of David's petition -- the first part of the application process for my fiance visa. There's more to the story, but we'll save it for a dinner party or something (remind me then).

It feels like our fingers and toes have been crossed all summer. We had one BIG hurdle in the spring. The next hurdle was David's petition to USCIS, which is currently underway. The next hurdle is my interview at the U.S. Consulate in Vancouver (which will, to a large degree, determine when I return West).

Never in a zillion years would I have imagined we'd have a health hurdle, too. David was feeling under the weather for a while now, and he wasn't getting better. But a TUMOUR???

I'd been bugging David to go to the hospital because he wasn't getting any relief from what his doctor had been prescribing thus far. We'd figured maybe it was bacterial/viral/stress-related, the symptoms would disappear over time, and in the meantime it was just a matter of finding the appropriate analgesic. How wrong we were.

It was pure fluke that David ended up in the hospital on Friday, despite my hassling that he not wait for the doctor and admit himself into hospital to nip this mystery illness in the bud. His doctor had cancelled all his afternoon appointments on Friday, leaving David resigned to another weekend of pain with only the prospect of seeing the doctor on Tuesday. Out of desperation, David went to Community Medical Center and that's when they ran the battery of tests -- X-ray, CAT scan, bloodwork -- and found this 'chest mass'. That's when David called me to break the news.

I was sitting in the sun on a cafe patio on Denman Street. My friend had just finished telling me her mother had radical surgery the day before to treat cancer.


While this was still registering in my brain, the phone rang. It was David calling from the hospital in a shocked voice to say they found a 4-cm mass in his left lung. I said I would fly asap and asked him to request the hospital fax me his admission papers in case I get interrogated at the border again. (In January I was held at U.S. Customs at YVR enroute to New York and they warned me not to cross without a fiance visa.) I was on my way.

Door-to-door, it took 20 hours to reach David at the hospital. If I could have teleported myself, I would have. Instead, I packed a carry-on bag, pulled an all-nighter on Friday, and set off early Saturday morning:

05:45 - Amtrak coach to Seattle
06:30 - U.S. border officer looks at my passport, hospital papers, airline ticket, asks a few questions, lets me go (RELIEF)
09:15 - King Street station, Seattle
09:30 - Krisanne drives me to SeaTac airport (THANK-YOU KRISANNE!)
10:00 - SeaTac is chaotic
10:40 - FINALLY get my boarding pass, security is a mess
11:00 - AA 198 to New York is delayed by 1/2 hour
12:15 - we finally get off the ground
20:40 - arrive at JFK
21:00 - JFK's AirTrain to MTA metro station
21:30 - subway into Manhattan
22:15 - arrive at Port Authority
22:30 - buy coach ticket to Scranton
23:00 - Martz Trailways coach to Scranton
01:15 - (Sunday) arrive at coach station, Scranton (deserted except for a rabbit)
01:30 - taxi to CMC
01:40 - arrive at CMC, get cleared through security
01:45 - finally see David
02:15 - sent away from CMC, I take the car and go home, greeted by a very confused cat.

The whole journey to get here gave me a lot of time to think things through, as did David. Thankfully we don't fear the same things, so we can support each other in times of trepidation. If we had the same fears, we'd be quite useless to each other in a crisis.

It reminds me of when we were in Toronto a month ago, when I couldn't step out onto the glass floor at the CN Tower. David walked right out onto the floor, finding the whole experience initially scary but overall quite thrilling. I, on the other hand, was wracked with vertigo and only managed to get over the feeling after he offered me his hand and I concentrated on taking a photo of our feet. He made me feel very safe. I want to do the same for him.

I would be remiss if I did not admit that we both put on a 'brave face' when the circumstances call for it. In this case, I'd call David's first entry about his condition a little too upbeat for how he's been feeling. The truth is he's been enduring pain symptomatic to enlarged lymph nodes but treated incorrectly by antibiotics, and the pain has been escalating. He's been taking medication to get through the day and functioning on little sleep because of the constant, spreading pain and nightly fevers. I didn't know the extent of his condition because we were three time zones apart and seemed to lack opportunity for quality conversation and meaningful discussion. There was just so much in the way, not to mention 4,000 kms. Being together has helped us both tremendously.

Now that the biopsy appears to confirm what David researched about lymphoma and what the doctors believe it to be, we can think more positively while we await the full results of the cell samples. Then, the next hurdle is to find a course of treatment that is the most effective and with minimum discomfort. He's suffered enough already, and the toxins released into his body by the offending tumour won't subside until it's taken care of.

We're not uncrossing our fingers just yet.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Inside AviatorDave

internal photography
internal photography,
originally uploaded by gail on the web.
Photos taken during David's biopsy this morning.

The offending tissue is in the centre of the photograph; an analysis will be ready in 48 hours. All indications from the biopsy point to lymphoma in its early stages, as David mentioned here. Probably the most critical piece of information gleaned via the scope is that the enlarged lymph nodes are in the same general area and haven't spread around his body (Stage 3). We'll see what the doctor says after the biopsy results are released, but the preliminary reports align with the better-case scenario -- that of a treatable condition.

I took David home a while after the sedative wore off. He's groggy and sore, but otherwise in good spirits. We were at the hospital for 6am, so I'm pretty groggy, too. I'll write more later.

For now, I'd like to thank all our family and friends for the words of encouragement and support. It's all very uplifting and we look forward to our wedding celebrations, where we can thank many of you in person. We'll have that much more to celebrate.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Surreality, or Why I Left Vancouver on Short Notice

On Friday night I did some quick flight searches and settled on American Airlines 198 from Seattle to New York on Saturday morning. Here's why.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Cutting a tree down Old Skool Soviet style

There's a hilarious joke attached to this photo. Click to read.

I've got some other Finnish jokes lying around somewhere in my boxes I'll have to dig out sometime.

Thanks HyperBob!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The Bee's Knees

Van Dusen Gardens
Van Dusen Gardens,
originally uploaded by gail on the web.
I say this phrase more often than a person who's never seen bee's knees really should.

"Those are the bee's knees!"

I'm proud of myself for getting this shot with my paltry 3x zoom and without pissing off the bee.

Van Dusen Gardens

In the span of one day I've uploaded one more photo of Van Dusen Gardens.

Now that's progress.

Actually, I did a whole lot of other necessary things wedding-related so Flickr was relegated to the backburner. Makes me wonder how I managed to hold a full-time job, take university courses, and occasionally take part in extra-curricular activities in previous years. Actually, all I have to do is read the archives in this very blog -- those entries were all textual grumblings. Let's not go back there.

Here we have a hypersaturated photo of lily pads in the pond near the entrance to Van Dusen Gardens. I took the saturation as far as it would go on the slider, something I've not done before because it usually blows out all the details in the photo. For some reason beyond my neophyte understanding of Photoshop it brought out the glints of sunlight, making it look fairytale-ish. All that's missing is the frog.

UPDATE: OK, finished uploading the rest of the garden photos. You can find them here:

Vandigicam at Van Dusen Gardens

John's Giant Cabbage

Couldn't help myself. I hit the 'Blog This' button in Flickr once I learned of John's Giant Cabbage.

"What's this giant cabbage?", you say?

Green Thumbs beware, you might just get inspired to grow your own giant vegetable once you check this out.

Cross-processed Moi

originally uploaded by goddess_spiral.
Photo by goddess_spiral, whilst we wait at Stanley Park's Malkin Bowl on Sunday to embark on our Cole Porter musical experience.

I've observed that as I get older, the carry-on baggage I host under my eyes slowly morph into Samsonites. The kind you have to check in and weigh.

My, how the cross-processing is kind.

Me and You and Everyone We Know

The verdict: inspiring, touching, revealing. The main characters are each and every one a cinematic treasure, particularly Miranda July herself. I still have plenty of scenes still milling around in my head -- clearly the hallmark of a good film.

Go see it, but keep your heart and mind open.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Van Dusen Gardens - it's not just for flowers

yoga at Van Dusen Gardens
yoga at Van Dusen Gardens,
originally uploaded by gail on the web.
It was an action-packed long weekend in Vancouver and surrounds. After I returned from Nanaimo, I went to see the fireworks on Saturday night, and by Sunday morning I found myself with no clean clothes...

A load of laundry and a very long phone call to England later (nearly two hours?), I moseyed down to the Coal Harbour to meet Rachael to see Cole Porter's Can-Can at the Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park. It's a musical -- no weighty plotlines here -- but it hit the spot like a summer ice cream cone; an outdoor theatre is a relaxing way to wind down a Sunday. There were some gorgeous flowers blooming between the Pavilion and the Malkin Bowl which we shot for posterity with our ever-present cameras. I saw Rachael's prints yesterday, and they're very eye-catching... I'm just waiting for her to scan them *nudge nudge* so I can post them here, too.

Yesterday -- Monday -- was another full day. After lunch with Eliza and one of the quickest shopping trips we've ever done (20 minutes, two pairs of shoes) at Oakridge, she dropped me off at Van Dusen Gardens, where I met up with the Vandigicam crew.

This is the only photo I've uploaded from Van Dusen so far. I'm still only halfway through my Nanaimo trip photos, and there's Sweden's fireworks after that, the flowers in Stanley Park, dinner at The Reef (caribbean cuisine) after Van Dusen Gardens and the impromptu after-dinner storming of Neil's place because his dinner came so late he ended up taking it 'to-go' and we didn't want him to eat alone...

What a forward bunch of people we are!

Tonight I'm off to see Me and You and Everyone We Know, an indie film by Miranda July that I learned about through Manu, who raved about it so enthusiastically he saw it not only in New York when it opened but last weekend, too!