Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Anniversary season again

With all of the kitchen and car projects, I let an anniversary go past. Two years ago on the 12th of October I started getting the symptoms that eventually led to my diagnosis. I look back on the four months between the onset of the symptoms and the diagnosis itself and remember that the pain and confusion were just a part of other health problems -- we worried that the operation on Jerry's ulnar nerve wouldn't work and would leave him unable to play. We worried that his cardiologist would find something odd about his aortic valve, and he did, though it turned out to be nothing to worry about. Jerry also had a painful UTI during this time. And a few weeks later, I took my fall down the slippery hillside and completely blew out my posterior tibialis tendon. It wasn't surprising that the stomach pain and jaundice seemed like just one more thing instead of The Big Thing that it's all turned into.

Yet here I am, two years later, and in amazingly good shape. Yes, I take a variety of pills every day, though a lot of them are self-prescribed vitamins and minerals. Yes, my energy is good except when it suddenly disappears. Yes, I have to plan each week that I'll spend one afternoon at the treatment room and the next day lying on the couch feeling as though I'm coming down with the flu. Yes, I'm relieved that I'm not still working and getting exposed to all the germs little kids share with everyone around them.

But these are small things. What's important is that family and friends continue to support me. Every day truly is precious. There are still new things to learn, laugh at, and glory in.

And next year's anniversaries to expect.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A quiz for you: Which is the new car?

Yes, we did it. A 2010 Kia Forte, and while it doesn't have the heated seats and GPS they tried to sell us, it still has enough bells and whistles to give us a learning curve, including a neat system in which you can move from automatic to a kind of manual transmission without a clutch. Just right for our needs.
And, of course, we still have the '76 Volare for backup, though I'm not sure if it can actually back up.

It's nice to get that out of the way. Does anyone really like buying a car? My fantasies never include long, fast car rides with the wind in my hair and loud music surrounding me. I just want to get from point A to point B as smoothly and efficiently as possible. And up the hill to our house in the middle of winter.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Remodeling Kitchens Can be Hard on a Marriage

We've been through this before. When Jerry and I got married, we (or at least I) never thought that owning a house would be in our future. I'd grown up in a series of rented places in strange countries, with a father who was so unhandy that he wouldn't let me push pins into the walls for posters because he wasn't sure how to cover the holes up when we left. So marriage to MacGyver led to some real culture shock. Not only did he want us to buy a house, but he wanted to remodel everything, including the kitchen.

We started from opposite philosophies. In his mind, the perfect kitchen was a 4' by 4' square. The cook stood in the center and swiveled to get to everything. In mine, the kitchen was the heart of the home, enormous, welcoming, and who cared if you had to carry a potful of boiling soup across a half acre to get it from the stove to the table.

This may have been why our only vicious fight in the past 42 years was over some detail about a kitchen remodeling three homes back. (We won; we're still together.)

The present project has gone amazingly smoothly, in part because I think Jerry has come to his senses about size. His wistful suggestion that if we simply cut the kitchen in half we'd have room for a grand piano didn't really fly.

We haven't fought about cabinet placement or materials, the new microwave/hood exhaust over the stove, or even countertop material or color.

However.... We're still in disposable mode (the sink doesn't get delivered until maybe Friday), and tempers are beginning to fray.

Somehow, over the past 25 years in this house, we'd accumulated an amazing number of paper plates and napkins, and plastic utensils. Every time we had an informal party we'd buy more, and then stash the leftovers where we couldn't find them again. The latter are supplemented by my packrat tendencies. I collect little knives, forks and spoons from airplanes, fast food joints, and occasionally from potluck parties. After all, they're perfectly good.

Well, they aren't. This experience has pushed me to discard the forks with missing tines and the spoons with the jagged edges, and to suggest that we should throw everything out and get some decent ones.

Jerry, caught by his own packrat-itude, refuses, and, certain that we're going to run out of paper plates and have to eat off the bare table with our bare hands, goes out and buys more to supplement what we've got. But because it's only for another week or so, he gets the cheapest. Coffee exploded in his crappy styrofoam cup in the old microwave yesterday. And somehow we've ended up with a couple hundred knives and three spoons.

I don't do this often, but I'm laying down the law. The minute the new sink is in and we can really truly wash dishes again, I'm throwing out all the limp paper plates, defective coffee cups, and slasher utensils.

Jerry says, "But we might need them some time."

I say this is beyond physical need. It's a matter of our marriage.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Kitchen progress

While we were out admiring pumpkins, Jerry kept busy. He took out everything but the kitchen sink, and then he took out the kitchen sink. We're using paper plates and plastic, and feeling as though we're totally destroying our carbon footprints as we do this. The nondisposables, mostly knives and pots and pans, Jerry washes in the bathroom sink, now tastefully decorated with a drainboard that slopes into the bathtub.
It works, at least for the time being.
Jerry says that when people say that "they don't make things like they used to" the only answer is "Thank God." Hiding under the kitchen walls and floors all these years were substrates made of what looks like cardboard. I don't know what was holding the kitchen together -- unless it was what J put in when we first moved here.

It strikes me that this is a real Green Bananas project. We have faith that my health is going to hold, not only for the next few weeks through the process, but for a long time after that.

Meanwhile, I'm enjoying the feeling of camping out. Remember Colonial House and Frontier House? I think they could get a good reality show out of Kitchen Remodeling House.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pumpkin Festival

Keene's Pumpkin Festival was Saturday, with a record of 29,068 carved pumpkins lining Main Street and on scaffolding in two places. Actually, Boston beat our record three years ago (talk about Godzilla meets Bambi). Lots of creative, beautiful, funny carving; lots of pumpkin-flavored goodies; good weather, good time. Miles liked the giant pumpkins, the bouncy booth, and the pumpkin that looked like a hamburger, with pumpkin seeds on the "bun."
I loved wandering around with Max, Anya and Miles. Jerry loved staying home and avoiding the crowds.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Life is Good

It's been a wonderful last couple of weeks, despite Jerry's trying to pull rusty nails out of the wall with his bare hands. One of the nurses at the cancer center pulled his stitches on Tuesday, and his hand is fine. He can play bassoon and continue with the kitchen remodeling with no problems.

This past weekend was full of family -- what a joy! Cinda should visit more often (hint).

Of course, there are also physiological reasons for my feeling so up. My various blood counts (white counts, red, platelets, neutrophils or whatever they are) had been way down for a while, but as of last week had gone back up to normal. I really think it makes a difference in my energy levels and my spirits.

And other good news is that my CA19-9 has gone from 129 to 111 this month.

With all of that, I went to band rehearsal three hours after my last chemo. The next day, usually my "chemofunk day" I even got out to exercise. I could get used to feeling like this.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Family, wonderful even when the flash doesn't work

Me, Max, Miles

Me, Cinda, Max

Cinda, Jerry

Anya, me

I know that there are some incredible families out there, loving, joyful, intelligent, and funny.... but mine is the greatest.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sometimes things gang aft agley

Yesterday I wrote that the kitchen project was on hold during Cinda's visit, but I was wrong. By yesterday afternoon, while she lay on the couch recovering from the redeye flight and I lay on the other couch recovering from chemo, Jerry was out creating storage for the cabinets that are to be torn out. The storage, by the way, in the top picture, is made from boxes he built in Liberia which have followed us and been used everywhere we've lived since.

Cinda and I moved everything from the cabinets into the temporary storage (pots and pans are, for the moment, on the end of the island), and Jerry started the demolishing project.

Throughout our marriage, there have been times when I come home to find a blood-stained note on the kitchen counter: Have gone to ER, don't worry. . This time, with much less drama, when I came back from the Y he showed me a large bandaid over his palm and said it was nothing.

I shouldn't have believed him. We went out for a very nice lunch, and when we came back and he was getting ready to go to orchestra rehearsal he stripped off the bandaid and asked me to help put a new one on. It was like looking into the Grand Canyon.

Cinda and I sent him off to the ER. Because he wanted to go on to orchestra and we just have one car, he had to drive himself.

Result? Nine stitches and a tetanus shot later he came home, having missed orchestra. No damage to blood vessels or tendons, so he's lucky.

Me? I was going to write a sentimental post about how much having Cinda here means to me, and it does. But there's Jerry, wounded warrior, and part of me feels almost happy to be the one who's doing the fussing and being the caretaker for a change.

Monday, October 5, 2009

All ready

The new closet is done, and as you can see, beautiful. Jerry's moved the refrigerator back against the wall, out from the middle of the room. He won't start the next phase of the remodeling for a week --

Because Cinda arrives for a week's visit tomorrow. Yay!