Sunday, December 31, 2006

Do You Skype?

What, you might ask, is Skype? It is a little piece of software that lets you make free calls via your computer to anyone else who has Skype (Mac or PC), anywhere in the world. Even though the calls are free, they are excellent quality. If you and your friends and family send e-mails, why not actually talk? And you can also make video calls. Or you can buy time to use landlines and mobile phones at really cheap per minute rates (and there's no setup or subscription fee).

Now, how does an old lady like me know all of this? My teacher was Andrew, who loaded this onto my computer, got the whole thing set up, showed me how to use it once (he of the nimble, retentive brain), and then went home. Now what??? If I keep on it, I'll figure it out. I actually got a call from him today, complete with video, and a call from Marie in Cuyutlán. The connection with her wasn't all that great, but we're working on it.

And now to the patient. Good today. He ate some soup with tiny bits of bread in it, but was able to get it down. His throat is sore for reasons he doesn't understand, but might be because he has some soup yesterday that was a bit spicy. He had said that "After the first of the year I will begin eating more" and the "first of the year" is tomorrow. I expect great progress.

We wish all of you a very Happy New Year. My wishes for the new year are three: that Jim be restored to good health; that peace be given unto all; and that I find an elegant apartment in Paris, really cheap, that someone is dying to get rid of. The first is probable; the second is possible; but the third is iffy.

Happy New Year

Saturday, December 30, 2006

In the Company of Children

The children (that would be Andrew and Emily) and their mother (that would be Alex) have gone back to Long Beach after a wonderful four day visit. These kids are not only smart, funny, charming, well raised and way above average, they are also kind. This is a trait frequently missing in the young. But they have it in a generous abundance. I can only thank their parents for their diligence in seeing that their offpring pay attention. Emily has gotten her braces off and her smile is more dazzling than ever. Andrew, at 18, is tall, big, and delightful. He taught me many things about my Mac about which i was totally ignorant, and fixed some glitches that had been pestering me. We had a wonderful time together with good meals, great shopping, lively conversation around the dinner table, and everywhere else, too. We will see them again either when we go to/come home from Mexico OR when we go to Andrew's graduation from Thacher School on June 2, 2007.

This morning Jim was feeling pretty good. Although he did not go up to the Farmers' Market as usual, he did attempt to clean the pool of pounds of the detritus that has fallen into it over the past few days. We had quite a wind here night before last and it left big piles of leaves and other droppings all over the garden. I looked at the pool; it reminded me of some neglected scum pond in a Southern mansion. But between Jim's attention to scooping up the leaves with the screen and the automatic pool sweep, it looks pretty good. Of course, it's about 60 degrees so there's not much chance of a complaint about how filthy the pool is and how nobody can swim . . .

This evening, Jim's throat is again quite sore and he is uncomfortable. I think this is because he talks during the day, feels pretty good and tries to drink things that irritate his throat, esp. the apple juice, and is generally tired from the day's activities. He has vowed that, beginning January 1 -- in two days -- he will start eating more, or at least trying to eat more. Until he is off the feeding tube we are NOT going to travel. And he wants to travel.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Shop 'til you Drop

Today was mall madness with Alex and the kids. Andrew has been gifted with a new laptop computer for his high school graduation, so today we went to the Apple store to make the big purchase. ( I am converting computer users, one by one, to the Mac.) Emily had some hot money she had to spend. So we hit the mall at about 10 AM this morning, along with everyone else who was mobile. We left at 4 PM. This is an absolutely insane way to spend a day at this time of year!

Meanwhile, Jim had quiet day, puttering around the house, reading, napping. This is the sort of day that is very restorative for him. He said his throat is a bit less sore although he did not eat any solid food again today. Maybe tomorrow. Having the kids here, though, has been a delight for him and has lifted his spirits.

Tonight we watched The Mouse That Roared with Peter Sellars playing three roles, Jean Seberg, and Leo McKern (Rumpole). I remember seeing this about 40 years ago (it came out in 1959); it has held up pretty well!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Next Generation

Grandchildren Andrew and Emily arrived today for a three-day visit. They provide hope for the future.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Airport Run

This afternoon our friend Babz returned from Los Angeles. Nothing would do but that Jim would drive to the airport to pick her up. It had gotten very cold and the rain started while we were on our way. By the time we got to Sac Int'l it was seriously raining. But she got here before la deluge and we got her home safely.

This morning Jim commented that his throat was not as sore as it had been yesterday. However, by tonight he was again having real trouble swallowing anything. At the market he bought some interesting "designer" juices and teas. Tonight he tried some peach tea and managed to get it down without too much pain.

He has moved back into the "master bedroom" since we expect visitors tomorrow who will occupy the guest quarters. We'll see how it goes for the next few nights. I may end up sleeping on the couch.

Next CT scan has been scheduled for late January. The radiologist likes to give his patients plenty of time to recover, so it will be almost 12 weeks post-treatment before he gets photographed again. We are hoping that by then Jim will be eating more, will get a clean bill of health, and we'll be on our way to warmer climes.

Today marks the beginning of the 6th week post-treatment.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas, 2006

We had quite a lovely day here, spent reading in front of the fire in the living room, with glorious Christmas music playing all through the house. Santa brought me three wonderful books: "The Historian" by Elizabeth Kostrova (big print edition so it is HUGE; "Good Poems for Hard Times", edited by Garrison Keillor; and "The City of Falling Angels" by John Berendt. The next few weeks promise much enjoyment. I am currently reading "Suite Francaise" by Irene Nemirovsky. It is an exquisitely drawn picture of the exodus and occupation of France during World War II. Santa brought Jim "and a bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails" by Wayne Curtis; and Nothing Like It In The World by Stephen Ambrose, the story of the building of the transcontinental railroad. So Jim also has good things to read while he waits out recovery.

And speaking of recovery, today was a better day, throat-wise. The pain got so bad last evening that Jim thought he was going to have to take a nip from the elixir of morphine. However, relief comes at such a great cost that he waited it out and the pain subsided. Today was easier. He didn't eat anything but did drink juice and tea. Apple juice may be the culprit. It may be too acid for his raw throat to tolerate. It's back to apricot nectar with aloe juice.

Tomorrow we get ready to welcome Alex, Andrew and Emily for a three-day visit. The fatted calf is ready!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve, 2006

The choir of St. Olaf's College is filling the house with sublime music of the season. Tomorrow morning will the Nine Lessons and Carols from the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. I was surprised, last night, at the secular nature of decorations throughout Davis. There were no religious depictions anywhere, even at the churches. No creches, no stars of Bethlehem, although one house had three camels on the roof. I always though Christmas had a meaning different from Santa and snowmen and grazing reindeer and miles of twinkle lights. You could not provie it in this city that knows everything!

To remind ourselves of what Christmas is to a great part of the world we all need to go to a Catholic country for the season. We have spent Christmas in Costa Rica, Spain and Mexico, and the run up in Italy. The commercial aspects of the holiday are very secondary to religious and family celebrations. In Mexico you can see the influence of Norte Americano consumerism in the stores, in the lights and artifical trees. But at root, it is a religious observation and in our village, almost the entire population is gathered outside the church on Christmas Eve for services. The whole event has a different feel.

I telephoned our friends in Cuyutlán who are celebrating at one of the traditional parties held each year. We long to be there; soon, we hope.

To all of you, we send our greetings and wishes for a very Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Bit Better, Thanks

Jim's throat was not quite as sore, a good step. He did not manage to eat anything today, but did drink some juices. We strolled the Farmers' Market this morning, listened to some beautiful carols, bought some veggies and apple juice. Gotta lay in stores in preparation for grandkids' visit next week.

We had a lovely visit with one of Cait's high school classmates, one who was a particular favorite of Jim's, so that cheered him up. We watched Little Miss Sunshine this afternoon. A workout for the waterworks!

Tonight I went out in the cold, cold winter air to oohh and aahh at the houses festooned with Christmas lights. The energy consumption is staggering!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Less than a 90th percentile Day

For reasons known only to the Recovery Gremlins this was not a good day for Jim. He was very tired and had more pain than he has noted in the past week or so. He didn't want to try anything that would go down his throat. There is no explanation why things get worse on one day or another. No more talking or eating or throat-clearing today than any other day. But we are always hopeful that "tomorrow" will be better.

We had rain over the night, but this morning was clear, bright and cold. We are supposed to have rain again tomorrow evening, so at least we'll be dry for all those last-minute shoppers. I, fortunately, am not one of them.

I met a friend this evening for a toast to the season. Driving home I checked out the lighted decorations throughout various neighborhoods. PG&E is cleaning up in Davis!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Let's Eat!

Today Jim passed another milestone! He ate soft scrambled eggs, the first "solid" food he's had in about eight weeks. Total intake was about 2 Tablespoons. His assessment? "Not too bad." He also ate some Jello, although that can hardly be called "solid" food. Now what he wants is some canned Mandarine oranges to add to the Jello. I am elated that he managed to do so well after only five weeks. The next thing we will try will be hard boiled eggs, mashed up and thinned with either milk or perhaps mayonnaise.

He also went into town and had his hair cut. Much of his hair has fallen out, although the pattern is in the back, ear to ear. His barber commented that he had some "bald" spots in the back. I can see some baby fuzz coming back. From head on you can't tell a thing; looks just as usual. From the back, well, that's another matter. This is the first hair cut he has had since he started treatment and I am thrilled that there was at least something to cut!

I went out for a walk this morning, and I don't mind telling you that I was somewhat hesitant to do it. But everything was absolutely fine. Yes, it was cold, but we followed the stress test staff's directions about a walk. Start slow, speed up, slow down. Usually we start fast and maintain that pace. I got home after about 45 minutes feeling energized and in the pink.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Social Ramble

I think it was Satchel Paige who said that "the social ramble ain't restful." Indeed. First I had a delightful and delicious breakfast with pal Babz, during which all worldly issues were discussed, dissected and, you'll be happy to know, resolved. This evening I again saw The Queen, still a breathtaking tour de force for both Helen Mirren and Stephen Frears, the director. Then a lovely dinner with my monthly out-to-dinner group.

Jim, in the meanwhile, had another good day. He spent alot of time sitting and reading in the sunshine streaming through the glass sliders in the den. He took a long nap and was still up when I came in this evening at about 8:30. More progress each day. He tried the orange jello he made yesterday but didn't like the taste. Or rather, said it had NO taste at all. He'll try again tomorrow. As the doc said, every day the taste buds recover a little bit and things that were sour or sweet yesterday will taste completely different today. How exciting. It's like discovering a whole new category of foods every day, even they're the same things over and over. Tomorrow morning we are going to experiment with runny scrambled eggs. Yummy.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The 90th Percentile Guy

Jim got really terrific news today when we went to see the radiation oncologist. Unlike the 70th percentile rating he got in November for "condition at end of treatment", today he got a 90th percentile rating for "condition a month after treatment." This was much more to Jim's liking. Mine, too. From now on it is just incremental steps to complete healing. He will have a CT scan in about a month, a meeting with the head and neck surgeon to see if there is anything else that needs to be done, such as surgery. If everything is clear, and if he can get off the feeding tube or at least about 75% - 85% off, we will be able to go to the beach.

Of course, as soon as we got home from the doc's Jim headed for a nice long nap. He had a bit of energy this afternoon; not much, but a little. Fatigue continues to plague him. According to the clinic scales, he has lost about eight pounds since quitting treatment, for a total of almost 25 pounds since September. We are going to try some semi-solid food in a day or so. Cream of Wheat. Soft scrambled eggs. This idea appeals but the reality doesn't taste very good. However, his sense of taste is coming back a bit at a time.

As for the recently released patient, I am in the 100th percentile, if there is such a thing.

Weather here continues to be cold, clear, dry, bright, and beautiful. Perfect flying weather for Santa.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Different shoe, different foot

On my Sunday morning walk I began to have tightness in my chest, dizziness and shortness of breath. In fact, I had to sit on the curb to recover while Gina rustled up a cell phone from someone, called her husband who came and picked us up. Next thing I knew she and her sister were carting me off to the hospital emergency room with a possible "cardiac event." That was the hospital's name for it. I was wired up, fed aspirin, given an EKG (normal), had blood drawn for the presence of heart enzymes (normal), had my chest X-rayed and generally given the once, no twice over by any number of incredibly skilled Kaiser staff. They gave me a nitro patch and three injections of a Beta blocker to slow my heart rate. The end result was I had to stay overnight for "observation" since I have several "risk factors" such as diabetes and high cholesterol. This time it was my turn.

Have you ever stayed "overnight" in a hospital. First is they don't know the meaning of "night." You know, the time you sleep, when things quiet down and people keep their voices low, turn the lights down or off, and leave you alone? Not a chance. It was as noisy and busy as it had been when I was admitted at noon. Every two hours someone came in to draw blood, take my blood pressure, check the heart monitor which kept losing power because one of the sensors came off. At 2 AM some cheerful nurse came in announcing "Good Morning!" and drew off a few vials of blood. At 4 AM another cheerful soul wanted "vitals." At 6 they wanted yet more blood. By now there's hardly any left for the nurse who came in at 7 to take the pressure. At 8:30 I was told that all the blood work was negative but that I would be having a stress test just to be sure. So at 9:30 I was wheeled down to the EKG lab, rewired, and put on a treadmill for 12 minutes (max). I didn't make it for all 12 minutes, but everything was normal anyway. I passed and they said I could go home!

Jim drove up to Sacramento to pick me up, his first foray onto the freeway in many weeks. But he made it and I got home about 1 PM, and mighty glad to be here. He is better, I am fine. Now that this little drama is over we can get back to his healing progress. Tomorrow is the first visit back to the radiation oncologist since he stopped treatment five weeks ago. We'll see what Dr. Schmidt has to say. Jim is continuing to take a bit more by mouth, cough and huck a bit less, and stay up and active a bit more. Sounds good to me!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Happy Hanukkah

May you always have more than enough oil to light your lamps.

As for our lamps, here in Recoveryland, they are glowing with the energy of good news. Today Jim had tea, a coffee ice cream shake, mango juice mixed with green tea, a bit of chicken soup broth, and apple juice. Things are also beginning to taste better. A week ago he could not drink the ambrosial apple juice I buy at the Farmers' Market. Today he could.

He wanted to go up to the market this morning, so we bundled up and got there about 9:30. We strolled the aisles, bought yet more apple juice, some beautiful kale and some Delicata squash. When we got home he made a big kettle of fragrant chicken soup using everything we bought plus some we got elsewhere. It is rich and flavorful and loaded with every kind of healthful veggie. His fatigue was not as great today. After a morning nap he managed to stay awake the rest of the day.


Friday, December 15, 2006

Gargle as Milestone

Who would ever think that the ability to gargle would be a big deal. Well, in this household, it is. When Jim began treatment he was given a big plastic sipper bottle, capacity about one quart, that he was to use as a receptacle for his gargling water. This was water, salt and soda. Mix one qt. water with 1 T salt and 1 t soda. Gargle frequently throughout the day. After about four weeks, he could no longer use it as he had sores in his mouth that were aggravated by the salt, and his throat was so sore he really couldn't gargle at all. But lo and behold! Seven weeks later he can now gargle. He tried it this morning to rave reviews from his cheering section. Yes, his throat is still sore but the lesions in his mouth have all but disappeared and he is good to gargle again!

His food of choice now is a milk shake made with whole milk and coffee ice cream. We're talking serious fat content here to re-pad those bony limbs. He was also less fatigued today; only one long morning nap. He is planning on a trip to the Davis Farmers' Market tomorrow and then a stop at the university library. He has managed to stay up about an hour later tonight. Progress.

It's the little things that we celebrate.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Week Five of Recovery

Jim is now in week five of recovery. No matter who I consult about his overwhelming fatigue assures me that it's "normal" at this time. It's no kind of "normal" that I've ever seen, but perhaps "they" know better.

When I left for the dentist's office this morning at 9:15 he was about to take a nap. When I got home at 11:30 he was just getting up. Then there was another nap in the early afternoon. But before that he actually drove himself to the market to get some juices that he can get down and enjoy.

He is now totally off of pain meds; no patch, no morphine, no pills. The discomfort is, apparently, bearable. This is great news as it means not only that the tissues are healing but also that his "organs" will begin to work better. Tonight he had a bit of squash soup (delicious!) and coffee ice cream (ditto). So even though he is exhausted all the time he is beginning to eat a bit more. The aloe juice is helping a bit, too.

He looks very thin to me. His jeans bag around his waist and hips, he has lost his tush, and those great basketball legs are scrawny. But with enough squash soup and coffee ice cream he will get it all back.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A Prayer for Patience

This is the time where patience comes in to play. Again today Jim is very weak and tired. It's not the "let's tuck up and drink tea in bed today and watch the tele and read" kind of fatigue. He simply cannot function. He is up in the morning for about an hour, shuffling around. Then it's back to bed for deep sleep for three or four hours. Then up again to get some juice or milk, then back to bed. I am quite concerned, yet his blood pressure is fine (130/71), his temperature is normal (97.5) and the various "organs"seem to be doing what they were designed to do. He wanted to go to the airport to see Caitlin off this noon hour but did not have the energy to get out of bed. Tonight he was up for a couple of hours, but at 7:15 he bowed out and went to bed. I have read about post-treatment fatigue, and that seems to be what this is. I sent off messages to his various docs and they concur. We will just wait it out. Jim has always been a "up with first light, down with dusk" kind of guy, but this is ridiculous.

I bought a bottle of Aloe juice to help with the healing of this throat. He adds a tablespoon into any juice he drinks. It's a bit medicinal smelling but he can get it down without too much gagging. Many have encouraged the use of this elixir to help him heal. I'll (and he'll) try anything.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Fatigue has set in

Jim spent most of the day sleeping. After his shower this morning he felt absolutely worn out and went back to sleep for about three hours. It's true, it was cold, wet, overcast, gloomy, so why not stay in bed? I am only concerned that he is weak and tired because of low blood count and low calorie intake. But he has assured me that he is pouring sufficient supplement into his tube. I guess, then, it is just the recovery process.

Caitlin, in the pink of health, also lounged around, reading, resting, and generally taking it easy after a rather hectic few days in Chicago. It must be something in the air.

I, on the other hand, had a glorious massage this morning, a Christmas gift from Jim. But I succumbed to the low-key day. We watched Beat the Devil this afternoon, an old (1953) Humphrey Bogart film for which Truman Capote and John Huston collaborated on the screen play. Cast included Jennifer Jones, Gina Lollabrigida, James Underdown, Robert Morley and Peter Lorre, among others. A classic!

Perhaps Jim will have more energy tomorrow. If the weather is better, you can depend on it.

Monday, December 11, 2006

More Progress

My friend Marie called from Cuyutlán this afternoon to say the weather is warm, the beach is lovely, and "the season" is officially underway, even without us. Here it is cold, wet, windy, foggy and, basically, winter. Now where would you rather be?

Jim's fatigue continues to plague him, despite frequent naps. His throat is still too sore for much swallowing, although he tries various things; tea, ice cream, apricot or peach juice. The egg custard went down OK but didn't taste right. We continue to experiment. As long as he is on the feeding tube we can't plan any travel, so getting shut of it is his first priority. His weight is quite low; 161 as of yesterday. He started treatment at 184. His loss has been about the average. I don't think he is getting enough calories through his tube. That's part of the fatigue issue, too. He will try taking in more calories spread out over the day and see if he can balance his energy a bit better.

Caitlin flew in from Chicago today, a brief zig-zag to Sacramento on her way home to Chicago. This will be a tonic to her Daddy. I expect a full recovery in a couple of days!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Grand Fatigue

An overwhelming fatigue has set in and Jim is again sleeping, on and off, the entire day. It was rainy and chilly today. He watched some talking heads this morning, a bit of football, then slept off and on the rest of the day. At 6 PM he called it a day and headed off to bed. I asked him how he was feeling. His response was that he was discouraged because he was so tired and was unable to eat more. Today he managed some apricot nectar, some warm milk, and a tiny bit of egg custard. I know how impatient he is on a regular basis, but I had to remind him that the recovery from this terrible treatment was slow, slow, slow. He said, "I don't think we're going to make it to Bozeman." We had hoped to make a winter journey to see Cait and Mike in Bozeman in January. I can only remind him of what he's been through and although it only took them seven weeks to destroy him, it may take more than seven weeks to recover.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

A Change in the Weather

The rains have come. Yesterday the pool guys cleaned everything up and it looked very pristine. Between then and now the rains and wind have come and the pool looks like a swamp. It will give Jim something to do. He has a spurt of energy in the morning, then needs a nap of about an hour. The rest of the day he is up and doing, but very low key. Then he goes to bed about 7 PM and sleeps pretty well all night. He had said that his throat was quite sore yesterday but now says it is better today. As long as he can keep moving around during the day everything seems to works as it was designed. Food treats today were apricot juice, milk with mocha flavoring, Manzanilla tea, and some of the sauce from some short ribs I am cooking, although since there was tomato in it he didn't like it. Burns his throat. He is hoping that by next week he may be able to gum some cheese and perhaps get some scrambled eggs down. Today was too soon. Anyway, the weather. Yes, it is going to rain and bluster for the next few days, with intermittent patches of clearing and sun, but mostly wet and cold. Well after all, it is winter. Or almost.

This afternoon I went to an open house held by a local ceramic artist, Donna Lemongello. She makes absolutely gorgeous things; tiles, bowls, cups, pitchers, etc. Each is designed and crafted with exquisite care. Her things are a real pleasure to own and even more delightful to give. And you know what they say, it is more blessed to give . . . etc. I wish she had a web site so you could browse her wares.

It is now 8 PM and Jim has faded and gone to bed. He is sleeping a bit better these days, for longer periods of time without having to get up and clear out his throat. That is still a problem but is getting a bit better each day.

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Friday Fish Wrap

I can remember my father, a really terrific chap, calling the Friday newspaper the Fish Wrap. I guess it was his Protestant ethic of eating fish on Fridays, and the fish monger would wrap the purchase in the morning's paper. I can't imagine any other explanation. Here we are at Friday again, the middle of week four of Jim's long recovery and he's doing quite nicely, thanks. More items on the menu; minestrone soup (not a hit because of the tomato base, but he'll try again tomorrow), apple sauce (tastes like dirt but he'll try again tomorrow), plenty of Manzanilla tea, more apricot nectar. He tried some Wheateena cereal this morning but it is too grainy and hurt his throat. We're talking soft scrambled eggs for tomorrow. As long as he can swallow it I don't really care what it is. The most important thing is to get him eating enough calories to dispense with the feeding tube. We can't travel while he is still using it.

A big storm is forecast for tonight and tomorrow, and it has now started to rain. That will warm things up a bit. Right now it is bitter cold outside, not suitable for evening walks. Rafa, the Costa Rican Jack of All Trades came over this morning to cut away overhanging branches on the roof so we can use the living room fireplace without burning down the house. We'll light up this weekend!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Excellent Progress

On today's menu we had a bit of yogurt, some peach nectar -- not as good as the apricot, so we'll stick with that -- cold Manzanilla tea, a big favorite today. Go figure. Also an attempt at some noodle soup that was a no-go, and some applesauce that didn't taste anything like applesauce. We'll save that one for later. It is so heartening to me that there are at least some things that Jim can and will eat, even though the portions are tiny. One bite at a time. He also has a bit more energy; stacked some wood, drove himself to the library to get some books on travel in Mexico. He's getting ready!

The chimney sweep came today to clean out both fireplaces and flues. We have been using the fireplaces every night both to keep warm and to add some delightful ambiance to our "Winter in Davis" experience. The only chimney sweep I've every heard of was in "Mary Poppins." Well, this amiable chap did a great job and left us with two very clean fireplaces to see us through the next couple of months before we take off for warmer climes down south.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Carte du Jour

Here's what the novice eater chose for today. Gerber's mashed bananas (C+). Grilled Chicken Breast cut up into microscopic pieces and chewed very slowly (B+). Cream of Celery Soup with mashed turnips (B+). Apricot Nectar (A+). Vanilla ice cream with café mocha powder added (A+). Steamed barley (C-). Stir fry vege melange with garlic, onions, broccoli, red pepper, carrots (pass). Green tea (B+). Lemon flavored yogurt (D-). Too tart. It burned his throat. So he went to the market and bought some less astringent yogurt and tried a berry flavor. Probably about a C-, but he'll try again tomorrow. Little by little he is getting back his eating interest and taste. I am elated at his progress. Tomorrow we may try soft scrambled eggs.

Jim is still tired and still cannot stay up and active without a long rest between chores. But every day is a triumph over the day before.

Today is our beloved grandson Andrew's 18th birthday. Happy Birthday, Andrew. We hope to see him during his Christmas break. Or perhaps down in Cuyutlán at Spring holiday. In the meanwhile, he's now 18, funny, smart, charming, and the world is his oyster

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

La Bohème

As I write this I am listening to this sublime opera via the internet, live from the Met in New York. Mimi is about to cough her way into paradise, Rudolfo is about to tear out his hair in grief, and everyone is having an all around good time! There she goes. And the audience went wild. Placido Domingo conducted this production. On Fridayl, December 8 there will be another live broadcoast of "Rigoletto." Don't miss it. Go to the Met live broadcast site to log on via Sirias satellite.

Here on Monterey Avenue, we are having a much better time, too. Not quite going wild, but close. Today Jim ate more pear puree, drank part of a cup of tea, and tried some Gerber's Turkey with Vegetables for dinner. He only managed to get down about a tablespoon. Didn't taste good. I tried it; I agree. It's a miracle babies ever put on weight and thrive on this stuff. I am sure those of us blessed with babies remember their eating habits. When she didn't like something Alex would turn her head away to indicate dissatisfaction with the menu. Caitlin would open her mouth, take it in and then open her mouth and let the offending food dribble down her chin, staring into my eyes during this disply of epicurean displeasure. These memories just make me laugh!

Dr. Grennan called this morning to say that Jim's blood numbers are rising so he didn't think we needed to come to the hospital for our scheduled appointment. Great news! We will not see him (oncologist)( again until early January. By then, God willing, all the numbers will be back to normal.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Love at First Bite!

Jim had his first food by mouth today. Although it was only Gerber's strained pears, it was still real food. He said he really couldn't tell what it tasted like and would I please tell him. Well, it was pretty bland, hardly a pear taste at all. But at least he swallowed it. He buzzed up some other foods today and put them through the feeding tube, trying to get some "real food" bulk with enough calories. Good job, Jim!

We went up to the clinic this morning so he could have a blood draw in anticipation of his appointment with the oncologist tomorrow. We'll find out how the Procrit is working and whether or not he has to have another four weeks of shots to get his bone marrow beefed up to produce enough blood cells to bring his numbers up. He is still anemic and that's what he's dealing with now.

I restocked my supply of candles at IKEA today. And we called for another load of firewood to see us through January. Our original supplier is out of wood. We have gone from almond to oak from a different chap. Anything to keep us warm.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Another good day

Jim remarked tonight that he had more energy today than in the past few days, a very good sign. He worked in the garden for quite a while, planting and clipping and sweeping. This, of course, while keeping tabs on football. But no nap along the way so he has gone to bed early. I also clipped, planted, dug and generally spruced up the back garden. Tomorrow I have more work to do in the front part. I didn't get around to stringing up lights but will get right on it.

This morning I had breakfast with a old and dear friend (she's not old; we've just known each other for a long time!). It was good to get out and get caught up on someone else's life!

The weather continues to be exquisite; high blue skies, clear warm sunshine, and tonight, a bright moon and zillions of stars. It's good to be alive.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Still on the Uptick

Jim continues to feel better every day. This morning he bundled up in layers and set to sweeping up several days' worth of leaves. His periods of activity are a bit longer every day. He tried to eat something this morning but couldn't get it down; of course he tried oatmeal instead of caviar, so are you suprised?

We had a trip to the supermarket where we browsed the baby food section and came away with mashed bananas and pulverized pears, several cans of bland soup, and a can of apricot nectar. Well, it's a start.

There is much activity in the neighborhood as houses get festooned with lights and other decorations in the spirit of the season. Since all of our decorations are down at the beach house in Cuyutlán, it looked as though we would be the only dark house on the street. But my neighbor Gina has enough lights and other goodies to decorate the entire block herself so she has come to the rescue. I put up the beautiful wreath from Erin on the outside of the front gate door. On the inside is yet another wreath that arrived in the mail, but without any note or card. So if you, the donor, are reading this, many thanks for such a festive gift. (I tried to trace the origin of the package by the return address but Google came up with a blank.) We can see one wreath through the sliders in the den. The other will be enjoyed by passers-by.

We don't hang a wreath at the beach house. Instead we string out luminarias along the stairways and landings, hang twinkle lights over the big ficus tree downstairs and around the palapa on the 3rd floor terrace, set out candles along the balconies and balustrades and buy dozens of poinsettias and put them all over the house. From the malecon beach walk our house looks like a very happening night club! I will miss being there this year. However, our Christmas will be joyous no matter where we spend it!

Although he is feeling better Jim still goes to bed very early. Tonight it was about 7 PM, while I stayed up to watch "Capote." Excellent. I remember when In Cold Blood was serialized in the New Yorker, about 1963. We waited by the mail box to get the net installment. That series, and Silent Spring changed non-fiction.

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Continuing Improvement

As this week draws to a close, Jim continues to improve. His voice is almost back; a bit scratchy and sort of whisky-like, but at least he is able to speak again. He tries not to use it too much as it gets sore. His plumbing is beginning to work properly, he has a bit more energy, and he was able to sip and swallow water for the first time in about six weeks. A big step forward. At least he knows the swallow mechanism works. We were told at the outset that some patients lose this ability and, once it's gone you do not get it back. So thank God for small favors. He had a fairly active morning but faded about 3 o'clock, took a long nap, and got up still tired but willing to stay up for awhile. Tonight he tried sipping some chicken broth (yuck!), some melted vanilla ice cream (more yuck!), and some pulverized lentil soup (ditto!) I guess he's not ready to eat yet.

I had lunch with a friend who, among other things is an opera lover. She told me that the Metropolitan Opera Company will begin its radio broadcats next Saturday, December 9, with Mozart's Idomeneo. This is one of the operas we listened to going back and forth to Jim's radiation treatment. But I think I'll listen anyway, just for old time's sake!

Tomorrow will bring more good news, I trust. Each day brings a bit of improvement, it's true, but once he got his plumbing sorted out, BIG changes started. Once again, kudos to Nurse Ruby! Tomorrow we will shop for baby food as a way of getting something into his stomach via mouth. Let's hear it for Gerbers!