Archive for the 'travel' Category

Sep 13 2011

rough week, sloooooowly improving

Well I took a short break from PT these first two weeks post-surgery; I just couldn’t make myself keep getting up and pushing physically when I was already pushing mentally and emotionally to heal, heal, heal, keep watch on house management, help The Teen figure out a better after school strategy in the midst of a surge of attitude and angst, hurt hurt hurt, figure out writing kickstarts, wait for shoes to drop, heal and hurt, hurt and heal.  It probably wasn’t the best choice; keeping moving and exercising really is one of the better and faster paths to health, but I just ran out of self-push on that front.  Spent it all elsewhere.  I’ll be slowly starting back on it this week, but carefully, of course.

Today I went into the surgeon’s office for a follow-up, and of course, not as fast a healing as I’d like.  Well, I was warned about twice the healing time for this, plus less activity I’m sure hasn’t helped.  But there’s nothing terrible happening, just slow healing.  I had half of the staples removed on half of my right side (heh), and half of the staples removed on all of the left side (every other one).  I was told that it’s looking really good, even though it’s still producing quite a lot of fluid and is swollen, so none of the four drains came out. (A mixed blessing; it would be nice to have healed enough for drains to come out, but as I recall, that hurts, quite a bit.) I actually think one of my JP drain suction cups has a leak somewhere (based on something that happened tonight), I’ll get them to take a look tomorrow.  I have another follow-up a week from today with this surgeon, I expect at that point I’ll get at least half the drains out and switch from staples to surgistrips.  He also told me to use hydrogen peroxide on the drain openings, which continue to hurt more than most other places on my chest (the swollen areas under my arms are a mix of numb and big hurting).  The backs of my arms are also really painful and swollen, so we’ve been wrapping them to try and keep the fluid draining out and toward the center of the body.  I have gained by far the most weight and am the heaviest I’ve ever been, due to the summer’s inactivity and the steroid drugs I’m on; however the good news is I’ve already lost 30 of that in the last two weeks (mostly fluid, though 8 pounds of it was breast, hehe).

I have another appointment tomorrow, this one a big one with my favorite oncologist, the fabulous Dr. Carlos Rubin de Celis (for anyone looking in the Austin area, I’d commute to follow this guy and keep his services, that’s how good he is).  I get some lab work done, I think we’ll be scheduling some scans; it’s time for the monthly medication renewal so we’ll also be discussing that.  I had been starting to ramp down on pain meds but the surgery pushed me back up to where I was, and in fact I’ve been using a few more of the pops than before.  I think it’ll be ok; he trusts me to pay attention to my body and tell him what’s going on, and I trust him to listen and help me change and stay on top of things as needed for best pain management; it’s a good arrangement.   We have a plan for how to affordably start me on tamoxifen (an anti-estrogen drug) that we’ll be discussing tomorrow again to make sure it’ll work the way we think it will.  I’ll also be receiving my next Aridia infusion.  This is a bone treatment that he says I’ll be on once a month for the next two years at least.  It’s designed to both prevent any future cancer encroachment into the bony areas that were previously affected by the metastases, as well as help assist in the healing of those areas previously damaged.  I’m not sure about how Aridia itself affects my body, side-effect-wise; I probably won’t have a clear picture of that for the next couple of months as it’ll be all mixed up in the mastectomy healing process, but I’ll keep reporting what I notice, when I do.  I’ll learn more about tamoxifen side effects tomorrow as well.  A walking pharmaceutical package, that’s me for the long term, I guess.

Realistically, I’ll ramp down from the pain meds over time, we hope; the damage is still very much there but there’s good reason and hope to believe that it will lessen over time even if not go away entirely.  My mom and I even came up with a clever solution with the help of a nurse for weaning off the pops when the time comes. (I don’t have an addictive personality, but recognize that habitual behavior is its own thing, so I’ll switch to mini tootsie pops or dum-dum pops when I feel the habit but don’t need the drug.)

(TMI warning) One concerning side effect that continues is near-incontinence; I have a much shortened time warning on when I need to urinate, especially when waking up.  This is likely from the radiation, and the RadOnc believes it will fix over time; she says that for those whom it’s permanent damage, it happens during the day as well.  While I’ve had it happen during the day, it’s always when I’m concentrating too much on things like writing, and ignoring the early signals.  If I don’t ignore the signals, it’s not a problem, so the daytime stuff is my own fault and I just have to wait for the nighttime stuff to heal itself over time.  There have been very few accidents thanks to the bedside facility, several close calls and only a handful of missed ones.   (Tonight for example, woke up fine and no misses! yay)

I’ve also had some radiation recall come up, which is skin irritation and/or discoloration (in my case definitely irritation, bah) that is exacerbated by the time spent in bed, so that will hopefully lessen as I get up and moving around more again.  This most often happens when you have to have extra radiation treatments, which if you recall I had to get a second round of 20 radiation doses while on chemotherapy, a scenario they try to avoid when possible due to just such side effects but which was necessary in my case.

This coming weekend links post has some cancer ones in there.  I don’t like to think about the death aspect of it, how close that sits over my shoulder, even though realistically I know that death sits no further away from any of us, really. (Wildfires, car accidents, random violence, anything can snap out that light much more immediately than what I’ve fought off twice now.)  I hope that my loved ones can all continue to treasure my presence and what I give to their lives by being in it; the more I heal the more I have to give, the more I love to give.  The healthier I am, the more I can do and the happier I’ll be, and I hope my friends and family can believe in me along those lines, that you are all so important for me to have and hold and love and lust for and live for.  It’s been a vicious and long road, with no promises there won’t be future sharp rocks along the way, but I’m passionate and dedicated to the ones I love and I WILL keep climbing those rocks.  I look forward to feeling your supportive presences alongside me as I do so.  Patience is one of the hardest traits to keep hold of during these crises and healing times, and sometimes even I want to scream   at the universe for a fucking break already.  Having you there with me makes such a huge difference; even if we’re screaming at the unfairness of it all together, that “together” is what makes it so much easier for me to keep going, keep healing, keep surviving, keep thriving.

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Dec 15 2010

Out of town week

Published by under travel

We are out of town (and state) this week with periodic internet access, so if responses are delayed that’s why. It’ll likely be a quiet blog week too. Hope everyone is having a fabulous week!

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Jun 14 2010

Northerners, Southerners, Midwesterners, oh my!

We’ve been traveling quite a bit over the last couple of years, large cross-country treks (several of them by car before health issues interfered). Obviously, it’s always interesting and engaging to observe geographical and vegetative changes depending on where in the country you are, but I find that each trip I become more interested in the human differences between regions.  Not just the differences that climate variations bring to daily behaviors and routines — not to mention the architecture — but attitudinal shifts and cultural differences as well.  I feel like I want to be writing some blog posts about these thoughts, but I haven’t quite figured out where to dive in.  So in the meantime, or as a sneaky backdoor entrance into the topic, I thought I’d put up this short post to ask you, Fearless Readers, about some of your own observations on these matters.

I don’t mind hearing the old saws everyone drags out on North vs. South, but I’ll admit I’m more interested in the observations you have that aren’t along traditional regional division lines, or different perspectives than we normally hear about the different US regions.  Starting with, in terms of broad categories, how many are there that are useful and effective labeling differences?  Northerner and Southerner seem to not really cover all of the US states in terms of cultural demographics, so we at least need to add in the Midwest and West Coast, but should there be more for the top-level categories?

What is a favorite cultural-quirk or regional-difference observation from the last time you traveled far enough outside your home region to notice the changes?

I’m looking forward to reading what you have to share!

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Oct 20 2008

business model posts moving right along

I’m back from Israel and slowly chronicling the experience over on the household blog, Words Words Words.  We’re now four posts along on the Business Models for Artists series, and we’d love to have more participatory comments! You can check out the latest one here, it links to the previous posts as well.

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Oct 08 2008

the writer abroad

Published by under conventions,steve,travel

Tomorrow I leave for my first international and transatlantic plane flight (hopefully not the last!), an event both trepidatious and exciting. I’ll be at ICON, a convention with academic, sff, film, and role-playing aspects. It’s held over several days in Tel Aviv, Israel. You can see the link for the 2008 con here.

I’ll be giving a version of the presentation that Kit O’Connell and I gave in San Francisco a couple of weekends ago on Friday, October 17 at 3pm. Given my topic and that the theme of this year’s convention is “Revolutions” (and I’ll have all the days ahead of time to spread the world subtly), I’m expecting it to be a fairly lively panel. That part, I’m very excited about. Although when I stop to think (thankfully, not much time for that pre-trip), I feel a little like “geez, when I decided to jump in the deep end, no one mentioned it was Lake Baikal!”

Regardless, this convention sounds like exactly what our project needs at this time. What fun! (We’re also making arrangements to be translated into Portuguese; I’m hoping to make a similar connection for Hebrew while in Israel. Anyone with lingual fluency and the time to spare who wants to help with the international saturation elsewhere, contact any of us at the Dream Cafe.)

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Sep 29 2008

Day 1 of the conference (at least, what I remember)

Published by under conventions,Kit,travel

Kit and I missed the panels that happened before ours, but thanks to the wonders of sexy technology, we can go listen to them as posted mp3s at Arse Elektronika’s website. The conference was aural ecstasy: voices from all over the globe filling the air with delicious ideas and discourse, echoing in a space that appears as a blend of an industrial warehouse and a theater.

I took a few scattered notes on the two panels that came after ours. The first was a two-person presentation and talk about transparency, oversharing, and how you decide how much to share of yourself on the internet (and the consequences of those choices). I felt the speakers, Susan Mernit and Viviane, raised a couple of interesting questions that I will enjoy thinking over and discussing with other more local minds.

The second panel was an informal two-person discussion about sex in science fiction from the 50s through the 80s, between author Richard Kadrey and AE host Johannes Grenzfurthner. I found the talk interesting, but more immediately noticed that it is hard not to adore Johannes; he’s the perfect person to lead the conference, full of vibrant energy and thought-provoking ideas and questions, funny and personable. Not to mention the hot accent–add German to the list of languages I enjoy hearing spoken (on the level of “here, read from this menu, I’ll just listen moistly over here”).

We came back to the hotel to rest a bit and eat, intending on attending the AE readings going on nearby starting at 9pm. We chatted a bit about notes I’d taken on our presentation–parts we’d glossed over or skipped, physical notes about fidgeting, gestures, and the like, what to improve next time–then dozed off for “just a few minutes”…

Yeah, missed the readings. We were tired monkeys. It was a good rest and obviously needed, but I was pretty disappointed to miss the evening’s event. Our hotel room is strange; the hotel itself is historic and very nice, but our room was discounted, I assume because its room window is permanently boarded up (probably due to the humming machinery outside it) as well as plywood covering the broken bathroom window. And no towel rack or thermostat. Thankfully, the bathroom plywood was loose enough that we didn’t have too many problems with air circulation. Still, weird that they would rent it out at half-off rather than repair it and charge higher rates. The doors carry sound but the walls themselves are some of the thickest of any hotel in which I’ve stayed. The wood replacing the windows means that very little light gets into the room–waking up Saturday morning was fairly disorienting.

And that’s as good a lead-in to the next Day as any, so I’ll end the post here for now. Must check out of this historic hotel and go back to our little glorified motel near the airport for our final day’s stay in San Francisco.

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Sep 25 2008

Alive in SF (better than the alternative…)

Published by under conventions,Life,travel,Writing

Well, our flight here certainly could have been MORE eventful, but I’m glad it wasn’t. Specifically the first leg out: we had last-minute deals on plane tickets, which meant we were doing a bit of airline hopping during our transfer, and also meant that for the first leg we were stuck with US Airways. Seriously, I have a strong inclination not to book another US Airways flight again, regardless of the bargain advertised. In addition to the plane’s layout contributing to us feeling like so many sardines in an overfull can (and the flight wasn’t even sold out), the seats were less comfortable than the airport seating. It felt like we were sitting right on those inflatable vests, rather than cushions.

But you know, when I think “plane travel”, the first thing I think to prioritize isn’t a flat, rock-hard, lumpy seat; nor even the inconvenience of legroom just about right for a toddler under age 5. The inability to keep the plane in the air definitely tops the list for me as far as flight no-nos go, and there were severe questions about that during this flight. Thankfully, we were too sleepy to do more than doze most of that leg, otherwise I’d be twice as physically stressed from worrying for two hours whether we’d just fall out of the sky at some point. (Keep in mind I normally love flying.)

We spent about 20 minutes at the gate, waiting for a guy to “fix some computer issues”.  This involved, at one point, shutting off all the lights and air circulation on the plane, one presumes to “reboot”.  The take-off was choppy, and I was jolted awake from my dozing every time we hit a pocket of turbulence that was poorly corrected for. But the landing I wasn’t sure we were going to walk away from; definitely the worst landing I’ve experienced without something actually going very wrong. We circled at least 5 times, during one approach actually doing a sudden pull away and upward climb like we were avoiding a collision with someone. We finally hit the runway like we were going to keep diving into it, and the braking process felt as if it were panicky, too little, and too late, surging and slowing like a rank beginner sat at the controls learning to drive with Mom or Dad. I just grabbed Kit’s arm and watched through the window, my hand on my phone. We made it! (The flight attendant giving the farewell talk as we taxied to the gate sounded very shaky, so I watched her, and when she put away the intercom handset she wiped her eyes as if she had been crying. Coincidence? Or barely-avoided fiery death?)

…to Phoenix. Now of course we didn’t learn our lesson from the Phoenix airport last time, but the message is this: never, never fly into Phoenix if you are on a time-crunch transfer. Double those nevers if you plan to transfer airlines. Triple them if your airline has delayed your flight in an attempt to kill their passengers. The short story is, with both Kit and I on gimpy feet, we landed with 27 minutes to get to our other flight–which was two terminals away and through security again. Amazingly, we reached it two minutes before they closed the plane door behind us.

United was a much better (and less eventful) experience, with seasoned professionals in the cockpit that took us up and set us down again with a feather-light touch. Plus they didn’t charge us $2 for three gulps of juice. And we arrived 17 minutes early, rather than half an hour late. I could keep delineating the differences, but you get the idea.

We grabbed pitas on our way out to wait for the hotel-airport shuttle, and had plenty of time to eat our snack before it arrived. Another revelation: don’t sit at the back of an airport-hotel shuttle if you can avoid it, especially if you are on bad streets with a maniacal driver, and triply so if you are large-breasted. But they did NOT bounce off, and we made it to the hotel by the charmingly quirky San Franciscan navigational technique of driving directly past it first thing, then looping back around making sure to service all other hotels on the route first.

Check-in was surprisingly fast and un-eventful. We are staying tonight and Monday night at a hotel near the airport, with these two nights gifted us complimentarily by Kit’s mom. Thanks, Siun! (We also figured not having a long way to travel between airport and hotel during arrival and departure days was a smart-monkey thing to do.)

We’re meeting with Kit’s sister this evening, and we haven’t seen her since she came to visit Kit a couple of years ago, so we may or may not manage to reach the conference in time to watch the fucking-machine contest. I’ll be disappointed if we miss it, but family takes precedence over things you can watch later on video. And we’re here in plenty of time to take in the rest of the conference.

Now to quit procrastinating and get back to talking about this presentation with Kit…hopefully we’ll see any of you Californian readers at the conference this weekend! Hmm, perhaps a snack…wait. $9 for buttermilk pancakes? SRSLY? You can, even here in SF, buy two entire boxes of pancake mix for $9. Methinks I will not dine upon hotel fare, here. (Kit’s favorite entry from the breakfast menu is “The Healthy Start”: one grapefruit half, one bran muffin, one low-fat yogurt, and one small box of Special K cereal with milk…for $11.50!)

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