Friday, August 22, 2014

First Dispatch from KY

Team Miner,

We've now been in Kentucky for approximately a month. Stella started Kindergarten. Jeff begins teaching Monday. I turned 33. Lydia is talking up a storm and can walk up and down steps. Jeff was issued another clean bill of health after his last check-up and has now been cancer-free for a whole year. Good, good, good news.

There is so much to report, I hardly know where to begin other than listing those big ticket items. I don't want to turn this into just a home improvement or DIY blog, so I'll refrain from going down that path right away, other than to mention that I am posting this while I take a short break from assembling stools for the kitchen counter. I'll also note that my days are sort of a blur of childcare, squeezing in a little work, and unpacking/doing nesting stuff. Hopefully this will change soon when I find someone to watch Lydia and my to-do list shrinks a bit.

I am missing friends/home (SF)/and Bay Area weather. In that order. The people here are very welcoming, but I don't have any close friends yet, of course. That said, I've met some incredibly generous and nice people who have introduced me to others, welcomed me into their circles, and even called me up out of the blue. Now I need to work on getting out of my shell and out and about. Having a new house gives me a few too many opportunities to stay busy at home. The heat advisories which have been in effect the past couple of days have also given me absolutely no incentive to leave our air conditioned house. It is a furnace outside.

Before I sign off, as a brief update on the hippie goals, I've overcome my fear of baking with yeast and made successful loaves of bread. I also made yogurt. I succeeded in both of these endeavors thanks to my resourceful and amazing sister.* Neither of these items (bread or yogurt-making) were on my list, but I'm glad I'm able to do them now. The store-bought yogurt options are either subpar or pricey here and the bread is jet-puffed and nasty. Thus, even my paltry attempts are an improvement on what is available to buy. I have also made strides towards #8 (by buying and using cloth napkins), #7 (vinegar, vinegar, vinegar), and I am cooking a lot (#6). We probably eat out once or twice a week here. There are some great restaurants, just not too many of them, so eating out a lot would result in very little variety.

I can't promise that future posts will be more interesting. But I'll work on that. And I'll work on writing more frequently as well.

So long for now y'all.

K

*My sister, her husband and kids, my mother, and my brother came to visit already. It was so awesome to have them here and I adore having space to actually have people stay with us. (Lizard - following our HWW introductory course I made an oatmeal bread that turned out well. Wahoo!)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Random Goals for Becoming (more of) a Hippie in Kentucky

1. learn to make kefir
2. learn to make kombucha
3. sew stuff
4. go to yoga 3+ times per week
5. run and walk more
6. cook a lot
7. use mostly homemade/"non-toxic" cleaning products
8. use fewer paper goods
9. build a pizza oven
10. plant a garden
11. raise chickens


Friday, January 24, 2014

Read This

An excellent opinion piece about facing mortality, medical (cancer) statistics, and life going on. 

(Sorry readers, still on the topic of cancer, but had to share.)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Resolutions, Schmesolutions

I had resolved to resume blogging in 2014. Mostly just to write, but in particular to write about topics other than cancer. This has gone the way of most resolutions. Nowhere.

To ease up on myself, I'm scrapping the grand plans, and will instead just write when I feel the urge. I suspect this will result in infrequent posts.* 

For now, I want to record for posterity's sake, some of the sweet things Stella and Lydia have been up to lately. Aside from these dear, tender moments, we have been waking up at ungodly hours and dealing with serious four-year-old mood swings. The days are long, the sleep is shoddy, and it feels like I am plodding. It helps, sometimes, to remember that the fatigue and boredom will cease, eventually. But so will some of the good parts, so in no particular order:
  • Stella just awoke from sleep to request water and kissed my hand, in a "pleased to meet you Mademoiselle" sort of way.
  • Lydia waves goodbye and hello with her palm facing her face. It's a move you might have seen featured in the video for "All the Single Ladies."  
  • On most days, Stella still runs to me and gives me a huge hug when I come home from work. I imagine this will not be "cool" and will not happen in a couple years.
  • Lydia has begun to (sort of) communicate. In chief, she pants (like a dog) whenever she sees a dog. The most exciting things in her life are (1) Stella, (2) bathtime, and (3) any canine we spot in the neighborhood, so this panting is accompanied by frenzied leg kicks and rapt attention.
  • Lydia's obsession with baths causes her to crawl towards the bathroom at warp speed anytime she hears the shower turn on.
  • Stella calls me "Princess Mama" from time to time.
  • Stella dawdles on walks to school expressly because she says she wants to spend more time with whichever parent is taking her that day.
  • Lydia's makes an EPIC duckface if you purse your lips at her.  She also laughs socially - as though she agrees that something is so hilarious - whenever she hears adults laughing.
Before I add anything else, I'll sign off to nurse the silly munchkin and hit the hay.

Katina


*BUT, I do resolve to finally announce the winner of the Mucositis Menu Challenge this year.  Now that everyone but me has forgotten about it, I will stealthily announce a winner.... soon.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Gobble Gobble Shake It Shake It

Team Miner - 

There's nothing quite like a brush with rather major adversity to make you appreciate all the good things in life.  Like everyone else, I reflect on all the things for which I am thankful every year when Thanksgiving rolls around, but as this particular year draws to a close, the gratitude feels deeper than usual.

Though I am tempted to post a long laundry list of things for which I am thankful, I am going to save most of that for the party early next year (which we are still planning) to show our appreciation for everything that everyone has done to support us through Jeff's treatment. I'm thinking it might coincide with Lydia's baptism, since I would like to have her baptized here in SF, instead of Kentucky. 

When the party rolls around, we'll have more to celebrate. Yesterday Jeff got the results of his post-chemo PET scan: still NEGATIVE. Woohoo!

On Monday we have an appointment with the oncologist to discuss the PET scan. I hope we will get a clear sense of what type of follow-up monitoring and care will be required over the next several months as well. 

In other news, since I rarely seem to find the energy or inspiration to write anything these days, I am dealing with some "senioritis," so to speak. Emotionally, it is very strange to be here - in SF, that is - when we had planned to be in Bowling Green already. I have this preemptively wistful and sad feeling, knowing that we need to say farewell to our life here, but I am also overeager and ready (in some respects) to get this show on the road. We have so many dear friends here, and the thought of moving to what will be a lonely place at first, is scary.  So, I have a new resolve to channel all this ambiguity I'm feeling and really make the most of the time we have left here.  Consider it a Thanksgiving resolution.  Also, I want to make the most of the food scene everything San Francisco has to offer, so I've got to get out and get my grub on before we head East to a land that seems to mostly consist of chain restaurants and some reputable donuts.

Aside from my inner turmoil (which makes this sound a bit more emo than necessary, but whatever), we had a great visit last weekend with Aunt Emi and Marc as they passed through on their way to Seattle. They let me be a third wheel on a date to see "Catching Fire," which I thoroughly enjoyed.  Now, Uncle Mikey is visiting for Thanksgiving. He is playing with Stelly, and meeting Lydia for the first time and it is just lovely to have him here. Unfortunately for him, he has arrived in the nick of time to experience Lydia teething (again) and also learning to crawl and cruise around.  She is growing up so fast. This morning she sat up in her crib for the first time, and this afternoon, she pulled herself up to stand while she was supposed to be snoozing. The times, they are a'changing...

Love to all of you,

Katina


Friday, November 08, 2013

A Note From Jeff

I returned home recently from the last round of chemotherapy, and while it's taken me a bit longer than anticipated to finish this, I thought it would be an appropriate moment to (a). thank you all for your support and (b). write a bit about the end of treatment and what the future holds. So:

(a). Thank you all. Your support has been wonderful, and I am so grateful for everyone who has sacrificed time, money, or even just a positive thought for us during what has been a long, at times interminable, six months. I am supremely grateful for the love and support of Katina, proprietress of this weblog. Cancer treatment is unpleasant, but I am lucky to have a spouse who took so much on her shoulders so that I could focus on getting well. Also, she has good health insurance. I do not envy anyone who must continue to do all the ordinary business of regular life (shopping, child care, insurance companies, bills, etc.) on top of trying to stay positive and recover. Between Katina and you all, I have had the luxury to get well at my own pace without many external demands on me. Thank you. I really can't say enough about how much it meant to me and to us that so many people have been there in ways ranging from the biggest to the smallest.

(b). Treatment is over. There are no more hospital admissions scheduled, and I no longer have additional poison medicine to anticipate. The last PET/CT scan I had was negative. Technically, this does not make me cancer-free. Instead, it means the machine was unable to detect any cancer in my body - overlapping but non-identical categories. The last two rounds of chemo were much less stressful for my body, and I've already started to notice improvements in important departments, including (but not limited to) my ability to grow eyebrows and hair on my head. While I don't yet feel strong, I feel the capacity to become strong returning, and I look forward to sweeping out some of the mental cobwebs from my working brain and starting regular exercise. All of this is grounds for legitimate celebration, so I look forward to sharing hugs and congratulations with our extended support network.

And yet.

When it comes right down to it, I don't yet feel like celebrating. Partially, this is due to my temperament. An academic advisor of mine once dubbed me a "laconic midwesterner" and anyone who knows me knows this to be an accurate description, both geographically and attitudinally. I'm not a big jumper for joy by nature. The reservations I feel are more than emotional reserve, however. I wanted to write a brief thank-you to everyone, but I also felt I needed to write to clarify that my non-celebratory mood is more than just me being me.

Treatment is over, but we still can't be sure that cancer is. Cancer is definitely over for now, but just how long "for now" covers isn't yet clear. It is not impossible that we might find ourselves going back down the same road, only darker, in the coming months or years. Do I think that will happen? No. But when it comes down to it, the absolute last thing I want is to begin treatment again, while looking back on a celebration with the taste of ashes in my mouth because it turned out to be seriously premature.

So, you won't see me jumping for joy. What you will see, I hope, is me getting down to the business of living life again, free of the many constraints imposed by frequent hospitalizations and toxic medicines. You should also see me giving handshakes, hugs and words of gratitude to everyone who has been there for us in big ways and small in the last few months. We're planning on having a party at some point, but I won't be there to commemorate the end of cancer. I'll be there to celebrate (1). Katina and (2). everyone else whose kindness and care sustained us through this process. Thanks, guys.


-JDM

Friday, October 25, 2013

Nearing the Finish Line

Team Miner:

Things have been busy. I have not found time to write. Lydia's latest bout of teething affected her quite a bit more than when her two bottom teeth simply surfaced with no fanfare a couple months ago. The emergence of her two top teeth made our usually happy girl quite cranky, so we have been rather sleepless round these parts. I also go back to work full-time soon, I still haven't made the girls' Halloween costumes, and in my "spare" time, I've been trying to cook more with our nifty new CSA box. Time for blogging has been minimal.

So, here's the news, quickly. Jeff is "scheduled" (as much as things can be scheduled at UCSF) to be admitted for his final round of chemo this Sunday afternoon - 10/27. I estimate he will be there until Thursday, provided he actually gets in on Sunday. Last time around, with this particular drug, he did not feel too terrible except for being extremely exhausted and fatigued the day before he was discharged. He could use visitors - especially since the hospital stay is bound to be during the workweek when I cannot be at the hospital - so I added some visit slots to the Lotsa site. If you can sign up and help make his last round of chemo go by as quickly as possible, that would be fantastic.

In other news, we are starting to plan a mini-celebration for Jeff completing all this chemo. We'll have a real party in the new year also. But by the time his treatment is over, it will have been 6 (long) months since all this started. SIX months. So far, for our immediate celebration Jeff wants to pour out the two nasty remaining bottles of nutritional supplement we still have in our fridge from when his mouth hurt so badly. It will be cathartic and delightful to watch that Ensure and "Muscle Milk" swirl down the drain.

That's all for now.

Katina