Blue Heron Update

Yesterday was chemo day # Four. The original plan was for three chemotherapy sessions, the surgery, then three more chemo’s. That remains the plan as all “numbers” are encouraging that “Chucky and friends” are no longer in Nancy. FYI, the day before and on the day of chemotherapy, the patient takes steroids to help mask the impact of the infusion. It has a comical dimension to it as this morning, Nancy is on her knees moving at the speed of light vacuuming the storage shelf in the kitchen and doing a bang up job! Quoting former baseball player Mark McGwire when responding to questions about his use of steroids, “Steroids do nothing to improve performance.” I’m sure his home run numbers increased from “protein shakes” too. I’ll bet his house was REALLY CLEAN! Onward we go. Nance is doing great. Thanks for all your support. More to come but the throttle is on, “Full speed ahead!”

In Nancy’s Own Words

“I’m back to walking. After my surgery, Chuckie is gone except for a few poofs here and there that will go with the next three chemo-therapies, the last one on the full moon in May.  After that, there will be occasional check ups and I will be back to a new and better me.  That’s the plan.  I think the new and better me will take more work but I’m ready to give it a go.”

(Updates will be less frequent as the sea has settled…)

Home on the Range

Nancy was discharged this morning and is home. Glad to have some fresh air and to be free of the “beeps.” We’re thankful for all they did for her. Hooray! As you can see, she is resting and having a cup of real tea.

Laps Around The Hospital

Nancy had surgery yesterday and came through well. The doc, the inspiring Kathleen Yang, said the chemo has been doing a good job at slamming the cancerous growths. She removed all that she could see, mainly “Chucky” who is no more. Good news for sure. She also checked the other organs and said they look good, but there was a squirrel inside that Nancy said was her pet.

Nance is adapting to life on the inside and asks all the young staff to show and tell the story of their tattoos. There are lots of tattoos.

She’s eating, speaking clearly, and in good spirits even if connected to too many machines that go beep!

Nancy: Great Blue Heron Update

Hi Friends. Nancy has surgery next week on March 9th. We’re holing up this week so no little invaders might delay the process.

Nance is feeling good, strong and in good spirits. Walks have been long and energizing except for Sunday, when we received the second Covid vaccine in the morning and felt pretty sick for 36 hours afterward. Ruby says that is a good sign and to be expected after the second shot.

I’ll post next week when the surgery is done and keep you informed. If you know anyone who needs this information that isn’t on the blog list, you can enter their address in the subscription box. Nancy posts will be indicated by the heron.

Long Lives, Contacts, Chick Corea, Jean Coram and “No Dittos” from Me!

The names of dead friends in my contacts list is growing. Embracing mortality with a touch of humor, I’ve been joking for the past few years that I leave the dead ones in so when they outnumber the live ones I know it’s my turn to go.

Years ago at a family wedding a cousin said, “You know, we’re going to live well into our hundreds. ” I responded, “I have no desire to live to be a hundred.” This bothered him so I explained that I’m not looking just to pack on years. As long as I feel good and there’s a reason to live I’ll do what I can to stick around, but it’s okay to die.

Occasionally, I have an odd thought, kind of a “God is laughing from above thing” with God saying to one of the assistants, “I’m not sure why they’re all afraid to die. I suppose it’s my fault, I was in a rush.”

I remember reading that the poet, William Carlos William died at ninety-one. It seemed like a lovely number. My father died at ninety-two and my mother died at fifty so I have no firm precedent to predict my longevity but ninety one always felt like a cool number. I’ve learned in life you get what you get.

William Carlos William

When I was fifty I studied Buddhism and meditation Tulku Jigme Rinpoche for some time. Wikipedia says, A tulku is a reincarnate custodian of a specific lineage of teachings in Tibetan Buddhism who is given empowerments and trained from a young age by students of his or her predecessor. “Tulku,” as I called him was twenty-three. One day I told him it seemed odd that he at twenty-three was teaching me at fifty. The second the question left my mouth I thought how silly that must sound to someone steeped in reincarnation.

Tulku Jigme Rinpoche

People die all the time but when someone leaves who you admired it leaves a hole. It’s not sadness so much as, well, I’m not sure what it is but it has to do with how they affected your life and how they lived theirs and it always feels cruel to me when someone dies who brought joy to others.

One of my favorite musicians died last week, the pianist Chick Corea.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Chick-150x150.jpg

If you don’t know Chick’s music, listen to The Ultimate Adventure on YouTube or anything else by him, especially, Crystal Silence. I started listening to Chick Corea when I was fourteen and his music brought me much joy.

The mother of a close friend, Jean Coram died last week .

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is ADD8EC0F-CE41-4F2F-8D93-29B6980BDA3B_1_105_c-150x150.jpeg

Twenty years ago we were traveling in England and Jean took us into her home and toured us around her village. It was four of the best days of my life. Jean lived in an older person’s residence in England and was ninety-seven. Ninety-seven is a big, long life. When she got Covid-19 she told her daughters, “No trips to the hospital.” Her daughter told me “Mum said growing old is not for sissies.” Tomorrow is her funeral. Farewell kind friend.

Rush Limbaugh died last week. I didn’t know him and I don’t like to throw dirt on anyone’s grave. I’m sure there are people who loved Rush Limbaugh and their loss is meaningful. I have no idea whether in private he was good person who improved the lives of others. I hope so.

The first time I heard Rush Limbaugh I was driving home from teaching at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. I’m a dial turner so was spinning the knobs and landed on KVI, one of Seattle’s talk radio/news stations. I’m not sure why I listened, and I wasn’t sure what I was hearing.  The voice was comical, the delivery polished but soon enough the tone, my gosh, it was ugly, derisive and abusive.  I’d never heard anything like it.  The voice was making fun of the Reverend Jessie Jackson.  I appreciate intelligent and respectful opinions even from those with whom I disagree, but this was despicable! What the voice lacked in substance he made up for with sarcasm and derision. Like a moth drawn to a flame, I listened for a while until I decided I don’t need this in my life and I switched stations never knowing who the speaker was.

When I got home, I called KVI.  In those days there were still humans staffing radio stations and I cared enough to call into them from time to time. When I connected with the station manager I told him this, “I’m not sure who or what that guy is, “ but it’s a horrible thing to hear that kind of talk on the radio and as long as he is on your station I will never listen to KVI again!”  The station manager laughed and said, “Sir, I feel the same way you do, and I hate to tell you this, but that guy is the most popular radio show host in the country and he’s making this station a ton of money. His name is Rush Limbaugh.”

And there it was:  abuse and derision and non-substantive attack and insult was a money maker. Sound familiar? PT Barnum at his best, no publicity is bad publicity, it doesn’t matter what you say only that people are listening. Of course, over the next few years I heard Rush other times. It was impossible to avoid. Rush, and his polished vitriol, became a superstar!

Three years later, a good friend called to say he was coming for a visit and then warned me, I want you to know, I’ve become pretty conservative” to which I responded, “Well, that’ll give us something to talk about.” 

When he arrived, as promised he was eager to share his ideas. It wasn’t upsetting that his ideas were conservative, so much as they weren’t really ideas at all, but mainly crude and personal attacks on others. I finally asked him, “Have you been listening to Rush?”  to which he sheepishly replied, “Yes” adding, “I listen to the other side too.” “What does that mean, the other side?” “You know, NPR.”  Then I said, “You know, if you’re embracing conservatism, why not learn about it from some reputable and intelligent sources instead of Rush?”

A week after Rush’s death, we are a country of people adept at insult and attack but who struggle to honorably or civilly disagree. We would rather demonize each other than do the hard work to find compromise and common ground. In short, we’ve become haters!

Limbaugh opened the door to an army of abusive, truth forsaking radio and television talk show news hosts who pander to the lowest element of their listeners.  They promote anger and embrace a society destroying pathological distortion of reality. Instead of opening minds and hearts, they’ve closed them, and it isn’t just on the “right.”

Rush pretended that he was just an entertainer, oft citing the influence of The Firesign Theater satire troop he admired as a child, but he knew better.  Rush understood he was extracting gold from the mine of hatred, contempt and rudeness, and perhaps more than any media personality in the history of the country up to his arrival, Rush promoted a culture of abuse. It made him rich, powerful and famous and metastasized into hundreds if not thousands of others just like him.

And that my friends, rankles me.  If a sociopath tells you a truth it doesn’t mean he isn’t a sociopath. It matters in what form ideas are cast into the culture.  It matters how we speak, what we say, and how we do or do not respect those with whom we disagree.

While Chick Corea and Jean Coram departed this world leaving behind music and joy, Rush Limbaugh departed the world with a society he helped tear into shreds, if not so much for his ideas but for how he shared them. It is for that I will remember Rush Limbaugh.

Crystal Silence

To all who have joined Nancy and I on this path

have showered us with support and food and kindness

and lent us your strength so that we might conserve ours

You have asked, what are our feelings?

And we have summoned words in an attempt to honor your question

But words do not reveal what we find best in silence

So please join us there if only for a single moment

and you will know all we might share

and there together we can bring light

to what we are only beginning to understand

Mass or Node?

Nance saw her doctor yesterday via Telemed.

The doc said she is doing very well but that it’s time to do the surgery. We also learned that words make a difference in the medical world. When we asked about the “mass” in Nancy’s heart area six weeks ago, we were told there was none and we upped our magical “abracadabra cancer is going away thinking.” We found out yesterday that when they said there was no mass they meant no tumor but the enlarged lymph node that we called a mass was still there, albeit shrunken. Still good news, though initially disappointing.

She will have “open” (as opposed to less invasive laparoscopy) surgery on March 9th and be in the hospital for three-four days. Presently I cannot be with her due to Covid. That is not a comfort.

Covid-19 has made it hard to have others in our life the way it might be more helpful but we’ll get our second shots next week and perhaps can loosen the restrictions that make support from others so awkward.

The roller coaster metaphor still applies. I want to apologize to anyone who catches me on one of the days when the coaster car is grinding its way to the top. Equal apologies if you catch me when it’s flying down the rails!

The only thing that matters is that Nancy feel safe, supported and comfortable and that we can harness her considerable will to focus on what needs to be done. Thanks to all of you who have made that possible.

Now, we need to get through the surgery and get Nanky Doodle healed up. Longer, warmer days always lift spirits. I have been so eager about getting through this Winter that yesterday I said to Nance that I didn’t realize St. Patrick’s Day had come, and she reminded me it was still February!!!

After working on Russian ships in my twenties, I adopted the Russian seasonal calendar. Spring starts on March 1st and it can’t come fast enough.

Ix and Plax

As a continuing part of the “I drank too much coffee series” and with full awareness that most of you read for news about Nancy and not my rantings and ravings, I ask, a few years from now when the evolution of humans from flesh and blood to metal and machinery, electronic, and computerized associations is complete, what will my pronouns be?

I am Veralogin 7605 4-B Interstellar Genomic BOx 12-Emotional, my pronouns are Ix and PLax

“Good day, Mate.”

Six Miles

We walked six logging road miles yesterday. Fortunately, the big storm hitting the rest of thew country has not gotten to us, so it was about 45 degrees, wet and gray, but no single-digit temperatures like Ruby is having in Texas and no snow like in Seattle and Portland. Erica and Ronnie and their two ten-week-old puppies, Reishi and Willow joined us. Walking with friends is great and when they have two intrepid puppies, it’s even better. Both dogs crashed upon arrival back home. Nancy is the picture of health and vigor, and tomorrow has her big scan to see how things stand on the inside. That will determine what happens next.

We’ll let you know as soon as we know.

Thanks again for all the support.