24 March 2012

A Nice Day In Seattle - Let's Take a Little Ride

Whooee! I'm way behind. I haven't posted any bike riding photos here for some time and here it is already nearly the end of March. Well, I suppose not doing much riding will tend to do that for a feller, but today, Mimi and I got to go out and do a 15.6 mile ride along the Duwamish Trail and out to Alki Beach and back. Here's a few of the photos I took along the way and afterwards.

Yep, we drove to the start line in MBR, my lovely F-150:

After a quick potty stop, we were off along the Duwamish Trail, cutting across Harbor Island and onto the trail to Alki. We had to stop a few times to kiss and hug and enjoy the scenery.

This one of our favorite (and one of the most photographed) vistas of the Seattle Skyline.

North of Alki Beach, the trail was pretty wide open. This is one of the nicest MUPs in the area, but on a 72 degree sunny day in July, there ain't much room one can call his own.

The Olympic Mountain Range as seen across Puget Sound. It's always nice when our mountains come out to visit us - and those days have been few and far between this past few months. The beach wasn't very busy today.

I just had to ride at least as far south as my favorite house along Beach Drive. It's been for sale for a couple years now. Last year they had a sign that said, "Price Reduced" - I think it was down to $4.5MM. Any takers?

Heading back north into the headwind, we had to stop at our favorite snack spot and have a cup of cocoa. Well, Mimi drank cocoa and I drank my Starbucks Frappucchino I'd been nursing til I could get it to room temperature.

New asphalt has been laid through almost the entirety of T-107 Park on the Duwamish Trail. SCHWEET RIDING!!!

There is a picnic table that we often stop and rest at, mostly just to enjoy the solitude and the views of the skyline of Seattle as seen through the industrial areas.

After the ride, we needed to stop off at Swedish Hospital to pick up a prescription and I found a Camelia Bush in full bloom - just had to steal ONE LITTLE FLOWER for my sweetie.....

...or should I say my "SheBeest".....

Then long before we were done having fun, we got home and I thought it might be nice to take a little snooze amongst the daffy-dills.

Ride Safe
Have Fun
Get To The Finish Line With a SMILE!!!

23 March 2012

I'm Waiting

Living with cancer has proven to be an interesting exercise. With the hundreds of visits to the doctor(s), poking, prodding, testing, reviewing and shooting me up with all kinds of wonder drugs that are supposed to kill this stuff off, it seems like I spend more time at Swedish Cancer Institute than anywhere else. And everybody wants to give me an injection of some kind. I feel more like a pin cushion sometimes than a human body.

Now, for every appointment, there is this ritual. Boot up the computer (well, OF COURSE!!! What would life be like if we looked at the patient instead of a computer screen - I'll write (or rant) more about that another time, perhaps - to review the patient history? This ritual consists of a drug review. "Have you changed any of your medications since you were in last?" "You mean since this morning in the other doctor's office? No." That answer isn't good enough. Now we have to spend 15 minutes reviewing each of the medications one by one as they stumble through everything I've taken since August 29th when I first started treatment. Thank goodness, my hair hasn't fallen out because I have to tell you, this is enough to make me pull it out, and if it fallen out, then what would I do in my frustration? "Have you developed any new allergies?" "You mean since 8:00 this morning? None that I know of." I try to remain in good humor, but it isn't easy some days.

Finally, it is time. They're going to give me something. Either a bag of dripping fluids, a shot of heperin in the gut, and most recently an injection of Neulasta. What is Neulasta®? "Neulasta® is a prescription medicine called a white cell booster that helps reduce the risk of infection (initially marked by fever) in patients with some tumors receiving strong chemotherapy that decreases the number of infection-fighting white blood cells. A sufficient white blood cell count may enable your doctors to administer chemotherapy according to their treatment schedule."

This according to their website.

Now every time somebody wants to give me a shot of something, they have to explain the side effects to me. It reminds me sometimes of all those television ads that talk sweetly and serenely about all the good benefits of the drug, whatever it is. Then in a panicky, gotta get it all into the ad in less than 5 seconds, they rattle off the side effects which may include vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, heart failure, and in some cases even death. Of course, you should ask your doctor if (insert whatever drug you want to here) is right for you.

So the other day, I got out of the hospital and the oncologist told me my white cells were a little low and he wanted me to come back the next day for an injection of Neulasta. SO I came home, brought up their website and looked for the possible side effects. These include:

What are possible serious side effects of Neulasta®? Spleen Rupture. Your spleen may become enlarged and can rupture while taking Neulasta®. A ruptured spleen can cause death. The spleen is located in the upper left section of your stomach area. Call your doctor right away if you have pain in the left upper stomach area or left shoulder tip area. This pain could mean your spleen is enlarged or ruptured. A serious lung problem called acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Call your doctor or seek emergency care right away if you have shortness of breath, trouble breathing, or a fast rate of breathing. Serious Allergic Reactions. Neulasta® can cause serious allergic reactions. These reactions can cause shortness of breath, wheezing, dizziness, swelling around the mouth or eyes, fast pulse, sweating, and hives. If you start to have any of these symptoms, call your doctor or seek emergency care right away. If you have an allergic reaction during the injection of Neulasta®, stop the injection. Call your doctor right away. Sickle Cell Crises. You may have a serious sickle cell crisis if you have a sickle cell disorder and take Neulasta®. Serious and sometimes fatal sickle cell crises can occur in patients with sickle cell disorders receiving Filgrastim, a medicine similar to Neulasta®. Call your doctor right away if you have symptoms of sickle cell crisis such as pain or difficulty breathing. What are the most common side effects of Neulasta®? The most common side effect you may experience is aching in the bones and muscles. If this happens, it can usually be relieved with a nonaspirin pain reliever, such as acetaminophen.

More information than you wanted I'm sure, and I can assure you, a whole hell of a lot more information that I wanted.

So the next day, I report for my dose. The nurse rattles off the "most common side effects" but not all the others, thank goodness. Then she asked me where I wanted it. Well, not really knowing where she was planning it, I asked her, "Well, as long as I don't have to drop my trousers, I don't really care, but since you are asking, where is the most common place to give it?" "Well," she said, "typically in the arm or the belly." Now, I went through daily heperin injections for a few weeks, every one in the belly and each one causing its own bruise. I decided that maybe I'd have it in the arm. She then informed me that a lot of her patients said that it didn't hurt as much if injected into the belly instead of the arm. "Well, okay, then. Let's go with the belly."

As she stuck me there was a slight stick and sting. Not so bad, really. Not nearly as bad as all those heperin shots. I lay there, staring at the celing and got to thinking once again about those side effects, and that got me to wondering about medical researchers and the development of drugs.

If the wonderful world of medicine is great, why can't they come up with an injection that the nurse can say, "Now this is going to sting at first and probably hurt like the dickens while I'm giving it to you. But don't worry, the only side effect of this drug is that it is going to make you feel like you are laying on a warm sunny beach in Maui for the next two days."

I'm waiting.

12 March 2012

Boothby is Cooking Again

So I got up and went to treatment this morning and celebrating the fact I only had a single appointment today, came back home. I am feling pretty alright this morning, so was going to bake a pie with the Rome Beauty apples I'd bought Saturday. Having tasted one, though, they were a little on the dry side, so figured I'd make some applesauce. Then I got to looking at the Lover's Marmalade I made on Saturday and thought I might as well use up the rest of the bag of those, too. After quartering the apples and peeling the oranges, I got to thinking that maybe I could make something a little more long-lasting, and something I could share with a couple of friends. At first, I thought I'd do some Mandarin Apple Butter, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought I really liked those little mandarin peels in what I did Sauturday, so I modified it just a little bit and this is what I came up with.

(Donald Boothby – March, 2012)

3 pounds Rome Beauty apples (about 5 med sized)
6-8 small mandarin oranges (add a few extra if eliminating the grapefruit)
1 grapefruit
Juice from 1 or 2 small lemons (1/4 cup)
1 cup water 4 cups sugar 1 stick cinnamon (more if desired)
Core the apples, leaving the peels on. Cut into large chunks and place in medium sized sauce pan with 1 cup water and juice from the lemons. Bring to a quick boil and turn down to low/medium heat for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently.

Once the apples have cooked down, remove from heat and immediately run through food mill, discarding the peels. This should yield about 4 cups. Add a little water if needed to get up to needed volume. Peel the mandarins, leaving the peels in as big of chunks as possible. Cut peels into very thin julienne strips and cut to the desired length. Set the peeling aside. Peel the grapefruit, removing the white fibrous membrane on the outside and removing any seeds from both the grapefruit and the mandarins.

Place the prepared citrus (if doing again, I think I’d add more orange and eliminate the grapefruit) into a blender and pulverize well. Should net 2 cups of finished pulp. Add more oranges if necessary to get up to the needed volume. Mix the oranges and peel into the bowl with the seived apples. You really don't have to do this, it's just pretty.

Place apples, sugar, citrus, stick of cinnamon and peel into deep, heavy bottom kettle and bring to a rapid, hard boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Reduce heat to low/medium and cook approximately 40 minutes, stirring frequently (use large wooden spoon if you can) until it reaches the jelly stage (begins to sheet of the spoon). Time will vary by the amount of pectin in the apples you are using. Place finished marmalade into sterilized ½ pint jelly jars and seal with new lids and rings.

YIELD: 3 pints.

If you like to keep the marmalade nice pretty reddish-orange, use stick cinnamon. If you want it to be more “apple butter” colored, add 1 – 2 tsp. ground cinnamon instead of the stick cinnamon. You don’t have to use Rome Beauty, either. I chose them mostly for their color, but if you use Granny Smith, Fuji, Pacific Rose or other variety, you will get a lighter and more yellow-orange color instead of the deep reddish orange I got.

NOTE: I don’t water bath my jams and jellies. I know all the cookbooks will tell you to, but I’ve been making this kind of stuff for over 30 years and have never had a sealed jar go bad on me. If you are the scientific type who believes in doing everything by the strictest food regulation rules, then water bath the finished jam for 20 minutes.

03 March 2012

The Hunter - A Dream of Healing

In my dream last night, I was traveling on the train to Canada. I had been assigned to go up and inspect a piece of mining equipment that failed and found myself sitting with a family of First Nations people consisting of a young woman, three children and a very old man. His skin was deeply tanned and wrinkled, his eyes were bright and sparkled when he spoke.

We were exchanging pleasantries and the family told me the following story.

The old man had once been a part of a community in a remote section of Canada in which his community made its living and sustenance hunting and trapping. For centuries they had lived this way and until very recently had been a very prosperous people. When young boys became of age, they were taken out into the wilderness and left overnight. In the morning, when they awoke, there would either be an arrow or a rolled fur laying next to where they slept. If an arrow, the young boy was taken into training by the elder hunters and trained in the skills of hunting. If the young boy was visited with a rolled fur, then he would be taken in by the trappers who would teach their skills to him. In this way, the community was able to always have enough meat to feed themselves and enough furs to trade and purchase the other things they needed to live.

When the old man was young he, like all the other boys in the village was taken out to the appointed spot in the woods and left with a small bundle and told to pray and fast and return to the village the next day. The next morning, however, he had been visited by neither an arrow nor a fur bundle. Instead, when he awoke, he discovered a small fox had curled up next to him and fallen fast asleep. He was very sad because this meant that he could never be either a hunter or trapper for his people. As he returned to the village, though, the fox followed him. At the edge of the village, the fox ran off back into the woods and the young boy was left to tell the elders his sad tale.

In actuality, he became both a hunter and a trapper, but was given a special gift. When his family needed meat, he went out to hunt and always came home with an animal. He never needed a weapon, as an animal would seek him out and after they met, would voluntarily give its life to the young hunter. When the family needed furs to trade in the market, the young boy was dispatched to bring back furs and in the same way, the animals would voluntarily give of themselves.

Over the years, the young man’s prowess became known throughout the region. The meat he brought back was always the most tender and freshest and of the best quality because the animal was at peace when it gave its life. His furs became famous because they never had trap markings or holes in them from where an arrow had pierced the flesh.

Eventually, the young man left the village and sought to go out into the greater world to discover what was beyond the village’s known world. I never found out why exactly he left or where he had been all these many years but he had recently been called back to the village by the current elders as the village had fallen on bad times.

Over the years, the village had fallen into a state of disrepair. The hunters and trappers had difficulty finding enough meat and furs to both sustain their families and trade with other villages. Many of the men had given up in despair and turned to alcohol which became a serious problem for not just the men, but for the young people. The women were experiencing an increase in difficulty with childbirth and had trouble maintaining the family in the old ways and there seemed to be nothing to replace the old ways with except hopelessness. The village dogs had gone wild and formed packs that would attack small children and all in the village were afraid of them.

I decided to accompany the old man and his young family back to the village, thinking I would come back to my professional work soon enough. When we left the train, we had to travel a great distance overland in southwest British Columbia until we came to a place where we had to catch a small, open-deck ferry across the water to another piece of land. From there we had to walk a good distance before we finally saw the village in the distance.

Suddenly there was a great noise as a pack of wild dogs rushed at us. The mother shielded her children, but the old man simply sat down in the middle of the road. As the dogs came nearer, they calmed and one slowly and with great caution approached us until he was nearly nose to nose with the old man. Sniffing, he sat down. The old man reached out and touched his head. As the two touched, a hummingbird landed on the dog’s head. It was 4:10 pm.

At the same time this happened, I received a text message on my phone from Mimi wishing I was home because the most incredible thing had just happened. She had captured a lovely picture of it. On our front porch, a large, boxer-type dog was sitting calmly with a hummingbird on its head.

There were sightings from all over North America at precisely the same time with dogs sitting peacefully as hummingbirds lit on their heads.

The man rose and calmly led the dogs and his family back into the village where there was a great healing amongst the people.

When I awoke, I lay for a long time re-playing this dream in my head, and a great calm washed over me as I finally drifted back to sleep.

NOTE: Paintings are by Mimi Boothby