Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night...

No, I did not drop you off of my annual Christmas letter list. I just have not gotten around to sending one since 2008. But I will get one out this year, I promise. Maybe not for another month or so but...

So the dogs and I drove up to Sylva, NC on Christmas Eve where I had rented a cute little house in Dillsboro (kind of a Sylva suburb) with just enough room for me and the dogs for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Despite grim weather predictions, the drive up was lovely. We arrived in time to settle the dogs and make it to the First Baptist Candle and Carol service (me that is, I left the dogs in Dillsboro) and afterward to the usual open house at the home of parents of high school friends where their extended family (and my extended high school friendship circle) gather on Christmas eve. And after that to the next extended family gathering, this one a bit more compact and the children and grandchildren of another high school friend. It was all lovely. Significantly, First Baptist is between pastors at present and as a result the design of the Candles and Carols service was up to the congregation. They decided to revert back to the original design - just scriptures interspersed with carols, lite by candles, with a pleas for funds to support service to local residents in need and a choir special or two. It was lovely. And short. which we all appreciated.

the following day 3 to 12 inches of snow were predicted, and by the time I was up and stirring at 8ish there was already at least an inch on the ground. I decided to make a calculated gamble that I could load up the car and get over Cowee mountain before the snow froze and thereby get back to Atlanta on Christmas Day. The alternative seemed to be maximizing the value of my rent by staying through Christmas Day as originally planned, but risking letting the roads freeze and being unable to return to Atlanta for several days. While I greatly appreciate several high school friends who offered me a spare bedroom for my own use, or a basement for the temporary dwelling of my dogs if my stay was forced to exceed the duration of my rental reservation - the fact that my next Chemotherapy (Avastin) appointment was on Monday Dec 26 made it highly desirable to return to Atlanta on schedule.

So i packed up the car while the snow continued to fall thickly all around. By the time I had the cars loaded and added myself and the dogs and started out, there were likely an additional couple of inches of snow on the ground. And it continued to pile up as I drove out of town and headed up the mountain.

The drive was beautiful. The snow was falling so thickly that distant vision was limited. Fortunately all the way over Cowee mountain the traffic was very limited, so it was easy to keep large distances between cars. But I had no trouble - no slipping or sliding. Anyone who has traveled over Cowee mountain and admired the view from the large drop offs will recognize this as an excellent thing. My usual traveling speed of 55 - 70 MPH was reduced to something more like 20 - 35 MPH all the way through North Carolina and the first part of North Georgia. Around Tococca, Ga the snow turned to rain, and shortly thereafter the roads cleared and travel returned to normal speeds so that I arrived home in Atlanta by early afternoon.

Temperatures hovered around freezing the whole time, however, and within a couple of hours of the time the dogs and I re-established ourselves in the house in Atlanta snow began to fall here as well. By Sunday morning the roads were iced in, the yard was covered with snow and I did not bother to try to leave the house until Monday when it was time to depart for chemotherapy. Fortunately the roads had cleared and the snow and ice in the yard had diminished.

And today the snow and ice in the yard is largely diminished - almost gone in fact.

Now I know that about now those of you in Minnesota and Boston and New York and Canada and other points north are thinking "What is the big deal?" But trust me, down here in Dixieland a white Christmas is a rather rare commodity. This was the first white Christmas in the mountains in, if I remember the news correctly, several decades, maybe even 50 years. And the first white Christmas in Atlanta since sometime before the turn of the century.

It was all very very beautiful, and we (Jake, Balsam and me) enjoyed very much our low key white southern Christmas. We spend a lot of time eating tomato soup full of crumbled corn bread, drinking cinnamon flavored hot apple cider, and thinking happy thoughts. I spent a good bit of time reading the load of Christmas cards and letters and often giggling over various reports from you and your families. Thanks for keeping me informed.

The snow and ice are largely gone now, but enough remains to make the trip up and down my back stairs a bit treacherous. Fortunately I make it rarely but the dogs make that trip multiple times a day. But it is lovely. Sorry I did not catch a photo for you.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Another avastin dose down, 3.5 months to go...

I had another Avastin dose today. This will continue every 3 weeks through March 21. The good news is that my blood pressure was excellent today on my current medication - with a systolic under 130. High blood pressure is a frequent and problmatic side effect of Avastin, and I have had to go on medication for it, but appear to be doing fine on my current medicine.

My hair continues to grow but (maybe I imagin it) much slower than before chemo. I am not complaining. I am so happy to have any hair at all again!

Jake, my 14.5 year old pound mutt with the tumors in his live and lungs, continues to do surprisingly well. He sleeps a lot, but then he is more than 2.5 years beyond his predicted life expectancy so... He hangs out closer to me, and seems a bit slower, and continues to slowly get skinnier - but otherwise he just keeps trooping along, sweet as ever and apparently happy. Sorry to leave you hanging for so long. I am renting a tourist house in Sylva on Christmas so I can take the dogs with me instead of boarding them, but otherwise they, and I - we are all doing well.

I am taking a lot of personal time off last month and this one. BEtween the time off work and the increased energy I am finally makeing real progress in catching up on the mail, filing, paperwork, and just plain stuff that piled up around the house over the course of my chemo. Hopefully by the new year the house will again feel more like a home than a ware house.

Otherwise no real news to report. Hope all your holidays are happy and healthy.