Pyramid Lake

There is a lake in Jasper at the base of a mountain . . . well, not quite the base. If you are in a car, it’s an easy uphill drive along a winding road to reach beautiful water that reflects Pyramid Mountain above. And at that water you can rent canoes, take them out and paddle – quietly, peacefully, happily – to your heart’s delight.

Nearly ten years ago, while living in Jasper, I had that pleasure. But I didn’t have a car. Instead, a group of friends and I set out on our bikes to peddle to the base of this mountain, where the lake waited with the canoes on shore.

Jasper is high, and biking up a mountain makes it even higher. To reach that water meant physical turmoil. Our group of friends became separated – those who were stronger pushed ahead, those out of practise fell behind.

I fell behind: panting, swearing, aching. Cars whizzed past, and I considered sticking out a thumb, but didn’t because it was too embarrassing. Instead I simlpy pressed onward despite thoughts of giving up, because I knew – I just knew – that canoeing in that beautiful water, out in the open air, laughing and cruising, and being part of that incredible grandness was going to be worth it.

So bit by bit, with frequent breakdowns of determination and the occasional ten minute rest-stops . . . I finally made it to the base of that mountain. And my word, it was good.

It was so very, very good.

I wish that at the end of this chemotherapy there was something like that waiting.  My pink mountain with the canoes all tied up. Actually, there is – another chance, a plane ticket home, a break from this crap. But right  now I’m struggling uphill, and it’s getting pretty damn difficult.

Bright side: I received the expensive drug, and this weekend has been much better. Apart from Friday the nausea was little to gone, which makes the whole thing easier. Instead of suffering from illness, I slept away the weekend. This was a positive experience . . . and yet I can’t help feeling down. Thinking about all the treatments to come – all the needles and drugs – it’s like biking up that mountain and turning the corner, only to see more of that uphill climb.

I know this will be over in a matter of months. This part of the cancer ride will come and go, and I pray it’ll never be needed again. Somewhere ahead is that symbolic lake, though I do wish there was an easier way.

The weekend went well. That is what matters. But I feel this is a greater challenge beyond ticking off the treatments, and unfortunately there isn’t much choice . . . I just need to keep on biking.


Chemotherapy confusion

Another day. This makes for my third session of chemo; once this weekend is over, there will be only 13 treatments left. (I look forward to single digits).

Yesterday we went to chemo treatment area for a weigh in and blood test, followed by a meeting with the oncologist. The nurses had a time with my arm – apparently the vein wouldn’t bleed, so they called in an expert to ‘find blood’. (Honestly, sometimes it sounds like they are drilling for oil) She was an expert and found it easily. However, the previous nurse I met, after not producing the blood, let slip that it’s around this time the veins start giving trouble.

Hmm, so now I am drinking a big mug of tea and wrapped in a warm bathrobe. Apparently a lot of liquid and being warm helps with finding veins.

My weight has dropped . . . even more from last time. I guess I’ve lost about 3-4 kilograms so far, despite my Hungarian family stopping by and encouraging me to ‘eat, eat’ and making dishes with pasta, bacon, salami and sour cream all together. I’ve never minded being thin, but now could really do with additional weight. However, the doctor didn’t seemed worried. Weight loss can be normal in chemotherapy.

But none of that stressed me out too badly. Nope, instead it was being told by the oncologist that the drug they prescribed me last time (the one that suppressed my vomiting) was a fluke occurrence. Apparently it is too expensive to be prescribed to patients in my chemo category, and I only received it because the mistake wasn’t noticed in time by the pharmacy. So, the oncologist has placed a request with a higher-up to approve the prescription. I won’t find out till today when I go in if the treatment was approved.

Blah – the idea of vomiting 16 times in a weekend (if drug is not approved) sent me into an immediate funk, and it took great efforts of my mom and Zsolt to pull me out. Here are the bright sides:

The drug is expensive, but not back breaking . . . if we don’t get it this time, we can buy it in the future.

I’ve been prescribed a different anti-sickness drug which I’ve never tried, so maybe this new drug combined with the steroid will do the trick. I hope so.

During the first round of chemo the pharmacy lady told not to take the drugs till ‘tomorrow’ (i.e. the day after chemo). But ‘tomorrow’ was way too late and I was already on a rollercoaster of sick. This time I take whatever drugs given today. It will make a difference.

Lastly – if I do get this expensive drug, well . . . for my second round I was given incorrect instructions (again). I was meant to take it with the steroid (not provided) – but instead I took it all alone. Even alone this expensive drug helped, so combined with other drugs this time (if I get it), I suspect a real difference could be made.

Anyhow I’m hopeful because otherwise I’m despairing. Here come three days of either total crap, being nauseated, or –hopefully- just needing to sleep all the time. We’ll see. It’s still a learning process, and it does get better after those first few days.

It’s 9.23 and my appointment is at 11.30. I need to go and eat – eat, eat – as my mother-in-law, Anna says.

Whew! Here I go!

Just Dance

Last week Zsolt and I gifted Anita with a new Wii game: Just Dance. (They  – Anita, Berci, Anna and László – have given us so many wonderful gifts; in fact I’m wearing the new blue bathrobe from Anita and Berci right now, and this morning I woke up in the incredible sheets Anna and László made possible. So our gifts to them seem quite small in comparison, but it’s all done with love.)

Has anyone played this awesome game? I guess it’s comparible to games like Rock Band etc, in that multiple players need to hit certain movement according to the screen instructions. For Just Dance there are different song choices, and then a dancer on the screen who acts out the moves (dances). And we, as the Wii players, hold the remote in our hands and follow along.

Awesome. You know why theWii is so incredible? Because there is no age limit, no skill qualification, no language barrier. The whole family was up and dancing – I have video proof, which will not (never) be posted online.  Instead I’ll post some other ladies to illustrate my point. . . . (point: it’s fun!)

Who cares about being tired when Ring my bell is blasting through the speakers, or Can’t touch this, or Surfing Bird? As a post-chemo exercise, this game is excellent.

So, family fun with the Wii. And I just loved seeing my father-in-law, László cut a rug. Great.