Sunday, September 25, 2011

Gullible's Travels

I know it's been a long time since I last posted, but there just hasn't been too much that I could share going on.  But after a couple of months I'll try and make your visit to the blog worth while.  As for the medical news... Do ya'll realize that it's been just over 2 years since I went to UCSF's ICU for the first time?  It's been a long time, yet in some ways it seems like yesterday.  Oddly enough I don't remember much of that first visit. I just remember that while lying in the ICU unit I over heard all of the doctors and nurses planning the hospital's production of Guys and Dolls.  I was so out of it that I couldn't respond.  After a couple of days, I was able to let my nurse know that I could help them out by doing the "Nicely Nicely' part and that I already knew the words to the song "Sit down your rockin' the boat".  He acted like he didn't know what I was talking about.  I figured they just gave the part to someone else while I was recovering and he didn't want to hurt my feelings.  I missed my chance for fame and glory.  Some say I haven't fully recovered from my medicated psychosis.  Others say I've always had it.

Who are these people and where is this beautiful place?  The first part of Sept. I was able to visit some clients (just in case the IRS is monitoring my blog) and friends in the Seattle area of Washington State.  I'd never been there before and it was fantastic. It really reminded me on southern Germany from my mission, with fields cut out of forest and rivers and lakes everywhere.  Lush and green.  And for me, it didn't rain a single second.  Actually, it didn't rain for a month.  I did get to stay with my great buddy and lifelong friend, Dan Stuart and his family.  Here's a picture of them, except for Ethan, who for some strange reason was already asleep, and Carly, who at 2, was just uncooperative.  Dan, Cynthia, Aveson and Brady.  I had a great time with them.  They live just north of Seattle in the Marysville area.  Their yard is one-half yard, one-half forest/jungle.  Wild berries grow everywhere and people there will go out for a day with their families and pick enough to can for the rest of the year.  Here's Dan in his backyard.  Finally got a picture of Carly, when she didn't know I was coming.

The trip turned into a visit of high school and long time ago friends.  I didn't get any pictures, but I was able to visit with Butch and Chelli Pogue, who Dale & I knew in Long Beach, and then they moved to Tacoma.  They gave us some wonderful support during the last years, and I needed to visit with them to say thank you face to face.  But only I got to see their faces and you don't because I was so excited to see them that I forgot to take a picture.  Where was Hillary when I needed her?

Dan & Cynthia have lived in the area just 1 year, so they didn't know the places to explore & see.  But thankfully, I had another lovely high school connection, none other than Colleen Sweeney, my high school sweetheart, who's lived in Seattle for many years and knows all of the places to see in the area.  Her ex London Smith was also present and we became BFFs over Astin Martins (he owned one) and many other things. So with Dan & his family we loaded up the vehicles and went exploring thanks to Colleen and her impromptu Pacific Northwest Pixie Tours.  I can't show everything, but you'll get a flavor for the city and surrounds, including the city views, views of the truly spectacular Puget Sound, waterfalls just minutes from the city, and importantly for me, great places to eat with fabulous views.  Thanks Colleen and London for so much fun!

 Then I headed east towards Spokane, where I was to visit another client. But on the way I was able to visit another great friend from high school days, Frank Portera and his family.  Did I ever tell you the story of how Frank sank his new motorcycle?   Lots of good stories with Frank.  He reminded me of the time...well, we'll save that for another day.  Frank lives in Selah, which is just outside Yakima, the apple capital of the country.  It's high desert, but I was amazed at the amount of water that still was flowing through it all.  We went to Red Lobster because it was the first night of "all you can eat shrimp" promotion.  Frank can eat a lot of shrimp.  His adorable wife Cindy less so.  His step-daughter Erin also.  We included our waiter in the picture.  I think his name was Travis.  It was his first night working there and he did great.  We hit it off and had to include him in our group picture.  Former Marine. Great guy.  Erin's not interested, however. Erin didn't want to come listen to 2 old guys talk about the good ol' days.  Mom convinced her and she admitted that she hadn't laughed so had for so long in years.  That Frank was really a wild & crazy guy.   She just never knew it. If you can imagine this, I was the voice of reason in our group!  So you can imagine what Frank was like.  To take liberty with a line from Guys and Dolls, spoken by Big Julie, "Thirty-three accusations. Not one conviction."

While in Spokane, where I visited another client, I also was able have a visit with these two wonderful ladies.  The younger of the two, and daughter, is Kendra Player.  She was my oldest brother Mark's girlfriend in high school.  The fiestier of the two, is June Smith.  She was the wife of the only scoutmaster that lasted more than 6 months with our group.  His name was Lamar Smith.  He and my dad were good friends, and they died from cancer within 2 weeks of each other about 6 years ago.  Lamar was the scoutmaster when Jeff was bonked on the head with the 22 lb. rock on Navajo trail at Bryce Canyon, and when one of the Rangers at Death Valley asked him to make sure that I never came back.  What?  Another time another story.  We had a wonderful time and thank you for finding me a restaurant (Old European in No. Spokane) where I was able to get real German potato pancakes with applesauce.  Takin' me back 37 yrs. ish.

To wrap up my WA trip just a couple more pictures and stories.  Of course with Dan and I we fanagled in some golfing.  The courses are cut out of the forests.  There's nothing 'man-made' but the course itself.  If you are prone to hitting out of bounds, bring lots of balls with you.  I lost 4, and that's very low.  I don't hit it that far either.  But once it's in the woods, you'll never find it, or get torn to shreds by the thorns on the wild berry bushes that grow right up to the tree line. That's a pond with water lilies on the right of the trees. Beautiful.

                                          Got back in time for a beautiful Paso Robles sunset.

Below is a picture of Dale, I and Susan Ibbetson, another former high school friend who came and visited us this weekend.  She's wonderful and really enjoyed the quiet of our humble commode.  She lives in Newport Beach and been an Orange County girl for many years.  After her divorce she went back to school at 35 and played basketball for Santa Ana College, even becoming the Co-Captain her 2nd year!  She's over 6', which really bugged me in high school.  Now that I'm a shrimp, she's really rubbing it in.  Very nicely.

So here's the scoop on my physical situation, for those who are still awake...
My body's not liking the buildup of the chemo in my system, so it's affecting my red & white blood cells, kidney & liver functions, neuropothy, symptoms, etc.  They're trying to figure out what to do about it.  Can't stop the chemo 'cus the cancer will come back.  Cutting back on it some won't help the symptoms.  My monthly infusion of Zometa has been changed to every other month, but other than that, it's "We'll just keep watching it until it becomes serious."  GOOD NEWS:  Physically I have been doing well.  I even graduated from physical therapy and will be working out at the gym now to keep me from blimping out again.  Thanks to all of the staff at San Luis Sports Therapy in Paso Robles, especially Dr. Jennifer Seay (pronounced 'see') and of course my own Candice Joy Richards.

Thanks for all of your continuing love and support.  As you can see by the pictures of me I am more upright than I've been in over 2 years.  Still fairly weak when it comes to stamina, but my frame is stronger.  Actually, my Dr. wants me to lose 10 lbs.  Ouch.