Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I REMEMBER...best birthdays

...perhaps one of the best birthdays ever (and it hasn't even happened yet - technically it is this coming Monday). This time last year I was very ill, had just finished chemo and had three more radiation treatments to go. I took a week off work last week before she started 6th grade and spent it with my 11 year old daughter going to movies, bowling, miniature golfing, a day at a waterpark, making tie-dye tee shirts, lunch and breakfast out every day...we were having so much fun that Lise took two days off and we went to San Francisco for two days - stayed right at Fisherman's Wharf, ate great seafood, bought souvenirs - bought a family pass to the Science & History Museum AND THEN we drove up the coast to Windsor - stayed with my sister and went for a Hot Air Balloon Ride capped off with a quiche/chocolate dipped strawberries/champagne brunch in the vineyards of Kendall-Jackson Winery....and just when you think there is no more room for icing...I got my clean PET/Scan results back before we left on the trip and my clean slate CT Scan from the doctor's today.

This time last year I could hardly keep food down. lost a lot of weight and hadn't even hit the hard part yet...didn't get the feeding tube installed until after treatment ended. My blog entry for this date last year:

August 25, 2998
Finished my last chemo today. This is the good news. Was not able to do my radiation today because both machines were down. The bad news. I was disappointed. I go to my regular radiation tomorrow at 3:15, and if the machines are working all week, will do the 4 of the last 5 this week and then the very last one the day after the Labor Day weekend.

Lise was sweet enough to take the whole day off work, and it turns out we were not able to have the radiation in the morning. And the chemo ran late. She had to drive all the way across town to pick Sarah up from school then come back to pick me up.

Having chemo adds more pills to the mix--more than my little daily containers can hold. The next three days will be pills, pills and more pills. I'm sure most of the pills I'm taking cause constipation, so I'm having to take two or three pills to work it in reverse. No pun intended. Just a minor trial in the list of tribulations I'm encountering.

Song of the Day: Start Me Up - The Rolling Stones (Stop Me Up)

Thanks to my sister Sharon and my niece Erica for the never-ending flow of fabulous get-well cards. There was a new twist in the card from my sister today. It was a picture of a "freak cod," a.k.a. Greek god, reminding me that I will always be older than her.

My blog has now gotten a comment from somebody in India. It's now truly an international blog. Ha.

Monday, August 24, 2009

I REMEMBER...going to Istanbul

...going to Istanbul, Turkey in the 70's. This is the place you literally can cross from West to East. There is a poem by Rudyard Kipling called the The Ballad of East and West - Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936) where the famous line is penned: "OH, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet"...but it is not true. The bridge over the Bosphorus in Istanbul, provides the solution. The Bosphorus is the 32 km (20-mi)-long strait which joins the Sea of Marmara with the Black Sea in Istanbul, and separates the continents of Europe and Asia. I walked across the bridge to just beyond the halfway point to say that I had been to the East, and then came back.

I spent several days there in a youth Hostel (that required by health concerns and common sense to wear your shoes in the communal hostel shower...I have been in slime covered creeks with a more secure footing
). Met lots of young people coming and going to Asia, etc. Istanbul was the jumping off place for travelers to the East. Fantastic stories from some very interesting people.

I was fortunate to see the magical Blue Mosque and
Topkapi Palace ( where you get to see all the world's great artifacts stolen by the Ottoman empire - much like the London Museum to see all the great treasures stolen by the English Empire and The Vatican's collection of great treasures stolen by the Roman Empire). There are many gold covered items, thrones, etc. encrusted with diamonds and emeralds..it is almost unbelievable. The famous gold, diamond and emerald dagger is perhaps one of the most famous blings in history.

My most memorable experience, however was experiencing a real "Tur
kish Bath".... a lavish, marble palace devoted to a steam room, dressing room and open public bath ( this one for Turkish businessmen) - where a huge bald Turk (big mustache - probably about 6'2"- 280 lbs) "bathed you' with a sponge made of some very coarse seaweed or straw and lye soap from head to toe. As I am just 5'7", 140lbs - I was a "compliant" customer...even when the $3 purchased bath experience included having the attendant walk on your back...I could hardly breathe. An incredible experience (living through it was half the pleasure) with only one downside (no, it had nothing to do with Turkish prisons as this was a public bath). I had just traveled to Istanbul from spending a month on a little Greek Island, spending my days drinking wine and developing the best tan I ever had. The 1/2 hour experience of being scrubbed with a wet, rough wad of straw and lye soap by a Turkish linebacker left me with one less layer of skin and produced a baby pink version of my former self. I felt like a boiled rubber band and looked like a baby hairless Chihuahua...but I was cool and could now say - "Been There - Done That".