Monday, January 17, 2011

Counting down

Dose 19 of Avastin today, along with laboratory testing (since I was snowed in last Thursday and could not get out for testing) and physical exam.

That is dose 19 of 22 - so only 3 left in the investigational trial - currently scheduled for Monday February 7, Monday February 28 (along with a doctor's exam) and Monday March 21 - And we will be done!

So I decided we were close enough to the finish line to ask about monitoring after I finish the treatment course of Avastin. It will consist of an physical exam and CT scan after then completion of the Avastin course, followed by physical exams every 3 months plus CT scans every 6 months for the first 2 years. Then followed by physical exams and CT scans every 6 months for the next 3 years. Then, assuming I have gotten that far without evidence of recurrence, the follow up required by the GOG clinical trial will be completed. I did not ask about follow up not required by the clinical trial. I will be happy to make it to these first milestones, then figure it out from there.

For the first time in more than a week the roads are clear and the snow is largely melted and gone. I say largely because large pockets of my yard (the shady areas) still have clumps of snow waiting for the weather to stay warm long enough for it all to melt. But yesterday it was warm enough to enablt me to chip away at the remaining snow and ice stuck to my front porch, pry it up in sheets and move it off the porch. All the time remembering that my Minnesota days should have taught me that you ALWAYS remove snow from walk ways immediately after it falls and before it can stick to the ground in sheets of ice. But that is because in Minnesota they know it will be sticking around for months, and here we (mistakenly this time) assume it will just melt away within hours or at most a day or two. Fooled us this week!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

3 days and counting below freezing in the deep South...

At the end of the third day of being snowed in, the approximately 6 inches of snow in the yard has not diminished except in the places where one of us has walked on it, or shoveled it out of the way to allow safer access to the yard for ourselves or our dogs. The dogs tread cautiously around the treacherous back yard. The crust of the snow has turned into solid ice, resulting in the younger dogs skidding and sliding around the yard like young kids on ice skates, only not enjoying it nearly as much. The ancient dog, Jake, has the same problems but with less stable footing, so that he frequently skids down on the ground or his feet slide out from under him. Occasionally the iced crust fails to hold their weight and one or more legs breaks through, which is even more difficult for the old dog, who creeps gratefully back into the house as soon as possible. The young dogs also do not care to linger in the yard.

Threatened with the requirement to make it to work or take personal leave today, my niece Dorothy managed to walk to the nearest MARTA stop (Atlanta subway) - a normally 15-20 minute walk that took more than 30 due to the slipperly road conditions - and made it in to work, only to return about 4 PM. They decided the 11 AM - 4 PM work day had been ill advised, sent the employees who made it in home and declared the business closed for tomorrow.

I have not exited the house since Sunday night except to help the dogs down the back stairs and to shovel off the back deck so they could make it into the yard on their own.

Temperatures did not rise above freezing today, and are not scheduled to do so tomorrow either or anytime before Friday afternoon at the earliest.

Never the less, CDC has announced to employees that we will open tomorrow, just at 10 AM instead of 8 AM. I guess someone got impatient with all those federal employees staying home, despite having spent the past couple of years encouraging the employees to telecommute whenever possible. All fine and good except that the dangerous conditions that closed the agency have not improved. Wishful thinking will not make it safer to try to drive to work tomorrow, and it is not possible to walk that far or take public transit since the subway does not go anywhere near most of the campuses.

I worked full time at home yesterday and today on CDC business - starting with a teleconference this morning at 9 Am and finishing about half an hour ago. So just over a 10 hour work day, and a slightly shorter one yesterday. GRanted on Monday I only did a few hours of CDC work, and having depleted my at home resources, likely would not have been able to do much for CDC tomorrow. Still out of 3 snow days I have performed work from home for approximately 2.5 full working days - not bad. I am not really thrilled about risking my car and my life trying to get into work tomorrow over very dangerous icey roads.

I will wait until 10 AM and hope that either the weather predictions are wrong or someone with authority will come to his or her senses and call off the work day. But if not I will be treading my way into work tomorrow and hoping I do not wind up in the hospital again - this time for trauma. After 8 years in Minnesota and 2 in Boston I am pretty comfortable handling my car on snowey roads. But even up there I would be attempting to stay off these roads, since unlike the upper midwest and new England, we have no road clearing equipment so if the snow does not melt it simply turns to patches of ice and the roads do not improve. And being able to handle your own car does not protect you when the guy next to you who has never driven on ice before goes into a skid.

We hear they are planning to cut the agency staffing by 10% by attrition as a money saving plan. We just did not realize they were planning to do it all tomorrow.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Am I in Minnesota?

Tonight, for the first time ever in the history of my living in the South, I had to shovel snow! The (by my estimate) 7 inches of snow crusted with ice that coated the back deck and the 4-5 steps down to the yard were too much for my ancient mostly-pointer Jake to negotiate. I carried him down once - then got to work clearing the steps.

Last night I was cohosting a dinner party for a Foyers group (from church) but we tied up early because of the predicted snow. My cohost Sue insisted that I head home and leave most of the clean up to her. Sure enough, the snow began as i was loading the car (more like tiny balls of ice), was coming down steadily by the time I started out, and was accumulating steadily by the time I got home. Fortunately the roads were still clear, but by 10 pm last night the yard and neighborhood looked like a winter wonder land, and my neice and her boyfriend were out playing in the snow. This morning the CDC was closed "except for essential personnel". Fortunately for me I am not currently essential because I don't know how I would have gotten in if I needed to. The same 6-7 inches of snow that coated the deck, steps and yard also coated the driveway and street.

Since I have not ventured out I don't know if the roads are clear once you get off my street. I do know that the temperatures have not risen above freezing yet today and the block remains totally snowed in. I am searching the internet and keeping an eye on my Blackberry for another email from the CDC EOC telling us not to report to work again tomorrow. But since none has arrived yet, I am beginning to turn my mind to thinking about how I might best attempt to get into work if I am expected to report tomorrow.

I still have those Minnesota cross country skiis - but the same absence of side walks that makes it hard to walk anywhere in this city would inhibit my ability to skii to work - not to mention that physically I doubt I could make it these days.

Today was very productive - perhaps not for the taxpayers but for me, as I finished 3 loads of laundry, a couple of loads of dishwasher, a lot of accounting and filing and tax preparation at home.

Tomorrow morning I will try to get a photo of the lovely snowy land to post.

Meanwhile, how many mass killings in schools and public places do you think we will have to have before the Congress decides that if it is necessary to have a license to drive a car and to renew that license periodically and keep that car registered then it should also be necessary to have specific training and a license to have a gun and also necessary to register that (those) guns? Why does the right to bear guns make it necessary to have laws that prevent the ability to have a national database documenting gun owners? Why is it necessary, easy, even possibly for mentally ill people to easily equip themselves with automatic weapons? Am I the only one who thinks that the NRA has had too much influence on Congress, and in ways that go way beyond protecting the ability of my acquaintances who hunt to put food on the table to coninue to be able to do so?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

And Another Haircut!!!

Today I got my second haircut since chemo. Now the first one in october did prehaps shape the hairs a little more evenly. But to be completely honest the major incentive for a haircut at that point was simply the idea that I finally again had hair that could be cut.

Today I actually had enough hair that indeed things looked better after the haircut. AS Yang (my excellent hair stylist) said, he had a little more to work with. It was still under normal circumstances nothing really to write home about. But I really enjoyed it. Enough to also purchase the stuff that he recommends I put into my hair to be able to shape it. And to agree to another appointment on saturday when he will stripe color into it.

Never thought it would be so very much fun just to have hair...