Sunday, October 22nd, 2017 02:12 pm
I may be showing the first signs of cabin fever. After a fortnight basically withindoors, I suppose that ain't bad, but it is deuced inconvenient, especially coming today of all the days we've had so far.

If I twitch back the blinds on the full-length picture window at my back, I have a view of a car park, a tower block, the London Eye (well, actually it's the Star of Puebla, but you know what I mean), and Popacatepetl. And really I just want to be out there. I could shop - there are things Karen will need, tomorrow if not tonight - but mostly I just want to walk. It's how I experience any new city, foreign or domestic; I am the original flaneur. I like to walk unknown streets, peer into unknown windows, watch the behaviour of strangers on the street. Sit in parks, eat street food I cannot name, read signs in languages I cannot understand. Full immersive protocols. I'm good at this.

I'm here as Karen's helpmeet and caregiver, though, and it's very much part of the contract that I not wander off and leave her stranded. Today especially, when she's too sick to leave her bedroom and might want anything at any time.

I've tended people on their sickbeds before this, of course - in a sheerly practical sense, I'm rather good at it, tho' I remain the world's worst hospital visitor, because I can never think of anything to say - but never this intensively for this long on my own. When Quin was dying, it took a year and was kind of like a war - moments of high drama, interspersed with long periods of dull calm - including the whole army thing. There was a team of us, a dozen or so standing shifts, with all the back-up we could want or dream. Here, there's pretty much me. Lots of doctors and nurses on the other end of a phone, of course - but you know how I am with phones.

When I said I might need respite care when we get home, I may not have been kidding. Or I might just be difficult to deal with, or y'all might need to be extra-nice to me for a while, or... I just have no clue. You might find you have two patients in recovery.
Sunday, October 22nd, 2017 10:59 am
Day Plus One, and we are largely hanging around the apartment trying to do nothing and not quite succeeding.

Last night I had a magnificent pharmaceutical accident: for we have a few old tablets of Lorazepam with us, and after the night before I felt that I was due a proper night's sleep. Experience has proved that I can cut one of these tablets into four and feel the benefit with a mere quarter: so there I was with one of those and our magnificent little pill-splitter device, and I rather cackhandedly dropped the pill into the sink. Which was damp.

By the time I'd fished the pill out again, it was already starting to dissolve around the edges, so I performed my famous "what the hell" shrug and swallowed the whole damn thing. Last time I took a whole one, I famously slept not only through Karen's rising and showering and dressing and going off to Grand Jury, but also through the boys' breakfast time - I'm sorry, that should be I SLEPT THROUGH THE BOYS' BREAKFAST TIME! - and woke at ten with two anxious furry faces wondering if I was edible yet, or if they had to wait a little longer.

This time I slept like a delicious contented log till seven-thirty, when Karen needed me. Lord knows how long I'd have slept else. Sleep is good, y'all.

Karen's not feeling too good today. I have made one emergency dash to the pharmacy, and am poised for another as and when. Otherwise I read and poke about obscure corners of the internet and occasionally think I ought to be seizing this chance to work but. I got nuthin'.
Sunday, October 22nd, 2017 01:48 am
May write more later, but Blade Runner 2049 is an entirely worthy companion piece to the original (and co-written by Hampton Fancher, who co-wrote the original). Whew!
Saturday, October 21st, 2017 10:17 pm
Grateful! For word processors and the ability to search in a document. Whilst it sounds romantic to write with a typewriter, I strongly prefer this.
Saturday, October 21st, 2017 05:08 pm
As much as I like Alien3 (not least for its complete refusal to suck James Cameron's kneecaps), I would've totally dug an alien-free sequel in which Ripley finds herself working to re-adapt to a civilization 70 years past the one she left to join the Nostromo's crew, driving load lifters, dealing with her memories, and working to be a single parent for her (not legally) adopted daughter.
Saturday, October 21st, 2017 04:26 pm
Planning to see Blade Runner 2049 tonight, as a respite from studying. Odd, to think I may be doing this- seeing movies in theaters- regularly again soon.
Saturday, October 21st, 2017 02:43 pm
After a truly horrible very bad night, we went to the clinic this morning and Karen was immediately whisked off to a side-room for intravenous meds to get some kind of control over her nausea etc. They followed that with what we were really there for, the transfusion of her stem cells back into her body. I was sent from the room and didn't get to see that. Don't know why, as it was the pivot-point of this entire adventure and I cannot conceive any health risk in having me present, but there you go. There I went.

Afterwards they trotted out cupcakes and candles and sang "Happy Birthday", for this is the conceit, that all our group of patients has just been reborn. Karen-people, we are adding October 21st to her commonplace birthday of March 21st: it's not quite a half-birthday, but close enough and readily remembered.

Now we're back in the apartment, and Karen is resting in her room, sipping a ginger ale and nibbling a Ritz cracker or two. Me, I am drinking wine. We may be establishing a pattern here.
Saturday, October 21st, 2017 09:37 am
So, I shall elect to call that Night Minus One, as against Early Morning Day Zero: for, as anticipated, Karen had a horrid time of it. She's sick as a dog, and staying in bed until the last possible moment. I didn't sleep much either, despite having taken a lorazepam in hope; as you know, I have my own issues, and was out of bed frequently beside to fetch her things she couldn't achieve herself.

Still'n'all, we can hope that was the worst of it. Eleven o'clock this morning, she'll be transfused with a billion stem cells of her own making, and they will leap into action to restore her murdered immune system. This will be a process of months - boosted along the way by a repeat of all her childhood vaccinations, which weirdly delights me - but little by little, we can rebuild her. We have the technology. Etc.

Meanwhile, the tradition of Thursday dinners continues at our house in our absence, which delights me. Also I suspect the boys of being pampered rotten, which kinda delights me also. We have already seen photos of their new fluffy snuggly beds.
Saturday, October 21st, 2017 12:00 am
Grateful! For people who can help me gain perspective without diminishing my feelings/experiences. For nachos.
Friday, October 20th, 2017 10:03 pm
Day Minus One: and all the worst is behind us, except for the actual feeling rotten. Hopefully.

We lead a temperate life, those of us who go down to Mexico in search of healing. Karen had her last round of chemo today (yay!) and we've just been quietly in the apartment since. She went to bed not long after nine o'clock; now it's barely an hour later and I am prone to follow. Not all the way, for we are obliged to occupy separate beds for the next couple of weeks, until she has at least the semblance of a normal immune system again; even my poor teddy bear has been exiled from her company, despite his sterling work in keeping her safe from demons of the night.

Karen ate most of a bowl of soup for dinner, but I'm not sure how much she's actually kept down. Tomorrow she gets all her billion stem cells back again, which is Day Zero and the start of her whole new life (hereinafter she gets to celebrate two birthdays a year, and who could deny her that?), but mostly she's just going to be feeling dreadful and not at all like partying.

Indeed, there's not going to be any partying for a while. She'll be in neutropenia, where she hasn't enough white blood cells to fight off infection; she stays in the apartment and eats astronaut food, wears a mask, doesn't get to kiss me. People say that Netflix is her friend, but tonight she was too tired to watch TV, and the fatigue is likely to get worse rather than the other thing. I have no idea; we'll find out. And my own prospects likewise: I don't know how I'll get through these next weeks, for it all depends on her. But at least the worst of the treatment days are behind us. I'm seeking comfort in that. And going to bed as soon as I finish this bottle. My doctor was rather shocked to be told that I drank half a bottle of wine a day; let nobody tell her that these days it's a bottle and a half at least. At least. It's easier to be accurate, when Karen's not drinking at all; but it's harder to be abstemious, when there really isn't that much else to do. Wine helps, y'know? Of course you know. Who do I imagine I'm talking to?
Friday, October 20th, 2017 11:58 am
One unanticipated side effect of the move: I'd largely forgotten the joy of sitting down with someone who's been a friend for a long time, and rehashing old times, and hearing about whatever happened to _______, and so forth. Happily, I had just such a visit with an old friend last night; it was a wonderful reminder.
Friday, October 20th, 2017 01:03 pm
My parents have now been married 55 years. In that time they have both become Professors, raised four kids, bought a house, and traveled the world.

But that is such a simplification of just a few of the things they have done in that time.

They are excellent gardeners. The grounds have been the site of more than one tour over the years. They managed to take an overgrown ivy forest and create (re-create) more formal gardens. They work hard to maintain it and expand on what they have done.

Want to know where I got my smarts from? Them. They encouraged us to use our brains. To not take things at face value. I knew how to use the scientific method from about the age of 5. Both of my parents are very intelligent individuals. They taught us to be proud of the fact that we could out think most people on the planet if we put our minds to it.

My crafty inclinations come from both of them. My mother made us clothing and lots of other items. I can remember as a kid she made me paper wings and a vest so I could be a flying monkey from the Wizard of Oz which was my favorite character in that film. She was very clever in recycling things for us to play with. I remember when Star Wars came out, my father made a set of LED eyes and put them on a headband. My mother made the rest of the outfit and my brother was a Jawa that Halloween. My father makes cloisonné pins. I still have a number that he made me over the years. My father and I share a love of photography. His nickname is Grandpaparazzie.

My love of reading has it beginnings with my parents. They read to me when I couldn’t. And once I could, they encouraged me to read. They introduced me to authors that they liked. I get my love of literature from them. I have very fond memories of my father reading “Wind in the Willows” and “the Hobbit” to me.

My parents taught me my moral compass by example. I saw what they did and how they treat people and mimicked what they did. They taught me that everyone is worthy of common respect. That being polite to everyone was the way to live. I knew my parents were liberal Democrats before I knew what the term was. They believe in fairness to all and that no one was above anyone else.

All that I am I owe to my parents. And I don’t think I can ever thank them enough.

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad. Enjoy your meal at Le Grotta.

I am so very grateful that my parents are my parents.
Friday, October 20th, 2017 12:15 am
Grateful! That I am certain enough in my worth that I'm now rarely cowed by anyone else's confidence or even their fame. Show your work!
Thursday, October 19th, 2017 03:56 pm
So everyone came out of the apheresis room, and was hungry, so we went across the road to a local restaurant for lunch. And were summoned back precipitately, because they had counted everyone's stem cells and the results were ready. Hearts in each other's mouths, back we came - and Oystein had 500 million, which was plenty, and Rafa had 750 million, which was awesome. And Karen had over 1000 million, and is best. Which of course we all knew already, right?

So now we're back in the chemotherapy room, being chemotherapised to kill off the immune system all but entirely. That's the rest of today and then tomorrow too. Saturday, she gets all her thousand million stem cells back, under firm instructions to get stemming, or celling, or whatever it is that they do.
Thursday, October 19th, 2017 10:45 am
Day Minus Two: and this is the big one, as far as treatment is concerned. We have been told to expect to be in the clinic for about twelve hours.

At seven this morning, Karen was allowed a breakfast of one (1) glass of water, one (1) granola bar, and one (1) piece of fruit with no added yogurt. Fortunately, I was allowed all the coffee I wanted.

At nine we piled into the team bus, and came to the clinic. Access ports were opened, blood was drawn, and we sat around for an hour while they tested that for stem cell wealth.

Once satisfied, they are taking us - or at least the patient half of us - into the apheresis room, to be attached to a machine for the next four hours. Their blood will be slurruped out of them, and the stem cells fished individually (I like to think) from the blood before it's pumped back in again. Karen is rated for 117,000,000 cells. Which is quite a big number, and I want to know how they count 'em.

After that comes five hours of chemo, also through the port. Then they take us home.

Karen's been connected up, and we caregivers are not allowed into the apheresis room. So guess what I get to do for the next four hours?

Uh-huh. Fortunately, while we were making our wills and giving all our worldly goods into the possession of a trust (The Trebizon Trust, did I mention? I am convinced that in a few hundred years it'll be this megacorp, dominating human space if not in fact the galaxy), our lawyer and I had a cheerful talk about how The Count of Monte Cristo is a masterpiece, and I thought, "Ooh..."

So I'm halfway through that, and there's enough reading left to keep me happy for a day or two to come. After that, though, Lord only knows what I'll turn to next. Suggestions of long, familiar comfort-reads available on e-book will be gratefully received.
Thursday, October 19th, 2017 02:19 am
Grateful! For a great cover artist and solid, honest beta readers. I think sometimes writers forget how important both are. Show yours love!
Wednesday, October 18th, 2017 06:57 pm
Editing temp gig for November is confirmed, and now I'm all @_@