Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Glebe

The other day on a whim, I took a much-overdue drive down the Glebe.

I rarely go down the Glebe, really, because I don't have any particular reason to.  But when I do, I always stop to take pictures of this soybean field and the little barn in the background.

Well, we all survived Thanksgiving.  My father is home and recovering nicely from all his health woes, although last week he was readmitted for a fever.  Thankfully they were able to control the situation, and he could return home in time for a fabulous Thanksgiving feast.

I completed my third chemo treatment last Wednesday, which means I have nine more to go.  So far, I continue to feel OK relatively speaking.  My hair has started to fall out, but thankfully I have so much of it, there's plenty to go around.  It's possible, although I'm not clinging to the notion, that I won't lose it all.  But if I do, I do. 

Aside from surviving, I've been trying to work when I can, although the commute and the stress of my job make for long days. It's shocking to realize the Christmas season is upon us once again, speaking of stress...I don't have the energy to battle with my huge artificial tree, so I am going to have to do something different this year.  What that is, I've not yet figured out. But it's going to involve a smaller, easier tree.  (Is there such a thing as an easy Christmas tree?)

Anyway, that's about it from my neck of the woods.  I hope all is well with you.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Iris and Lenja

About a week ago, my college friends Iris and Lenja came to Mathews for a visit.

We met at UVA in August 1982, which astonishingly means we've been friends for over 35 years.

(Thirty five years?  How is that even possible?)

Lenja (pronounced Len'-ya, rhymes with Kenya) lives in Cambridge, England, 
and Iris lives in McLean, Virginia.

During their visit we went to Bethel Beach and later had lunch in the Court House at Southwind.

It was warm enough to sit outside.

It was a wonderful visit.  We're already planning our next reunion, which may include a hiking trip through Portugal--once I'm done with my chemotherapy treatments next year.

Speaking of chemo, it's going reasonably well.  I've had two treatments thus far (one every two weeks) representing one complete cycle.  I'll need five more cycles, meaning I should be done in April.  Aside from some exhaustion, I really can't complain at all.  My white blood cell counts are very low, though, which just means I am more prone to infections and have to take precautions.  I'm supposed to steer clear of crowds and sick people and wash my hands frequently. 

Staying away from crowds is thankfully not a problem here in Mathews. 

Not a problem at all.

I hope all is well in your world.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Then and Now

These were taken five years ago.

October 2012. 

Three years before my car accident.

And five years before being diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma, also known as Hodgkin's disease.

I know I didn't have cancer two years ago because courtesy of my car accident--which included my very first helicopter ride-- I learned then that I only had some broken ribs and a punctured lung.  They did every test known to man to be sure they knew what they were dealing with.  

But my PET scan this week revealed I have cancerous lymph nodes in my neck and near my lungs, spleen, liver and pancreas.  So between October 2015 and now some stuff was going on.  Where stuff equals Life Stress and obviously something else that triggered cancerous growth.

This week I start chemotherapy, which I confess I am dreading.  It will last six months.  The particular chemo cocktail for Hodgkins is ABVD.  Google it.  Or don't.  Halloween is just around the corner, there is no reason to seek out additional things to be afraid of.

I'm relishing these last few days of being CBW before chemo.  Also, my father is home from the hospital and was tinkering around the barn today.  That in and of itself is a miracle.

Life is good.  

If not great.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Bethel Beach

These were taken on a day in September right before I had the surgery to remove the lymph node that would come back positive for Hodgkins lymphoma.

We were (and still are) in the throes of my father's illness, and I had taken off work to have one day to myself, where I told myself it was OK if I didn't drive to see my father, and it was OK to have a minute to myself before my own surgery.

Doesn't this wooden piece look like a mini heron?  No?  That's what I saw.

Back then, it was minute by minute, day by day, on my father's situation.  To a lesser extent, it still is, but he's doing much better as of this writing.  He's in a rehab facility in neighboring Gloucester, expected to cross-your-fingers return home Monday.  But when I took this precious time to get away from everything, I knew at any moment the phone could ring or ding with a text announcing something was not right.

I toted a beach chair and my camera and breathed in the warm salt air as I walked down the beach.

With every step of my bare feet in the sand, the exhaustion and stress just fell off.  

With every exhale I felt better, even if I knew reality didn't match up with this little escape.

I remember seeing someone in the "parking lot" and I asked, "Is it crowded today?"

They laughed for a second and then wondered if I were serious.  "No, it never gets crowded here."

"I know," I said.

I plopped down in my chair for about thirty precious minutes before I received a text that I was needed at home.  A piece of equipment that my father needed for his wounds was in the back of my car, and I needed to report back quickly.  (He was using the hospital-issued one but was being discharged so needed the rented one we had.  Where one= wound vac.)

This short-lived respite from all that stress was very much welcomed.

Later I learned about my own situation:  Hodgkins lymphoma.  If one had to pick a cancer to have, this one is a good one in that it's highly treatable and in most cases curable.  However, no matter what, I have to go through chemo.

So far, I've had a MUGA scan. I call it a "Make U Great Again" scan,  but it's really a test where they inject you with nuclear stuff to take pictures of your heart to see if there are any abnormalities which would complicate the burden of chemotherapy, since the drugs I'll be taking are harsh on everything, including the heart.  I passed the MUGA scan with flying colors.  Thank you, long distance running.

I also had a pulmonary test, where they make sure your lungs are OK.  Check.

Next up, I had surgery to implant a port, which goes just beneath the surface of the skin, into which all the BAD  TOXIC drugs will go to attack the cancer.  It saves my poor arm vessels from multiple sticks.  The port surgery was actually easier than the lymph node removal. 

Tomorrow I visit a second oncologist just for a frame of reference.  Tuesday, I have a PET scan, where I'm injected with more nuclear stuff to determine how far the cancer may have spread.  Thursday I have another visit with my oncologist to talk about next steps, which may include a bone marrow biopsy but will definitely include the chemo schedule.

Right now I am just taking each day as it comes and each thing as it hits me.  I'm having to rethink things, such as the ability to do as much as I've been doing.  For example, after all these years I finally realize it's time to Surrender Dorothy on the house.  I couldn't keep it clean even when I was well.  No way am I going to clean anything when I'm not feeling great.

And by the way, I do feel great.  If not for all the stress of these past many months, I'd never know anything was wrong. 

This blog was never intended to be a cancer blog--although I did create it and maintain it all these years to escape the stress I was going through but never talked about.

I think Mathews is the perfect antedote to stress, and I intend to keep taking pictures and blogging when I can.  But I may also break my own rule and occasionally talk about the stress I'm going through, including this fight I'm up against.

I'll win, I don't have any doubt. 


Wednesday, September 20, 2017


These were taken back in July, before my life became one family emergency after another.

A long story short, my father has been in and out of hospitals and rehabilitation facilities every day (except two or three) since July 24, when I drove him for what we thought would be a rather routine surgery.

In the middle there somewhere, he did come home for a few days.  But that relief --that he was finally well enough to be home--was short lived.

In spite of everything--and believe me the list of what he's struggling with is not a short one--he's somewhat stabilized as of this moment in time, and we're cautiously optimistic that he may return home once again in the near future.

But one thing we've learned in all this is things can change in the blink of an eye.

I also had surgery last week to remove and biopsy an enlarged lymph node I discovered randomly this summer.  One of the many things my father has going on is lymphoma, which is actually the very least of his/our worries.  I now know more about lymph nodes and what they do and why they become enlarged than ever, and have been tested for lupus, Lyme disease, and who knows what else.  In the end, the only way to know for sure what's going on was to remove the largest of the large nodes.

So as I type I am a freak of nature! have a drain coming out the side of my neck/collarbone area as I await the results of the pathology tests.

So far there is no reason to think it's anything awful, so I've tried not to think about it--which is very easy to do when there are so many other things going on to worry about.

Although I'm not really a sailor, I have likened handling the struggles of these past few months (and there is much more to the story than I've shared here) to navigating a sailboat.  You deal with the wind as it hits you and adjust your sails accordingly.

(Or, you just give up and let the wind blow you where it will and hope you don't capsize.)  

I'm really looking forward to some calm waters very soon!

p.s. Update - I learned today I have Hodgkins lymphoma.  Still looking forward to calm waters!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Bethel Beach

Ooopsie.  The water seems to be draining out of the right-hand corner thanks to that slanted horizon.

These were taken several months weeks ago before my parents started encountering some pretty major health problems.

Again here, we're listing to the right a little.

I've all but missed the summer and have spent the past six weeks traveling from home to work to hospitals and now rehabilitation facilities to visit my father.  As of this moment, and entirely due to Middle Sister's diligence with the doctors and nurses, my father is holding his own.  But he's not home yet.

That's my main goal for him.  To come home.

Because life just can't seem to ever calm down, I've had a health scare of my own that is still unresolved.  For now, I'm just grateful my father is showing some signs of improvement, my mother is doing OK, and I have some breaks from work coming up which are long, long overdue.  The driving and the hectic season at work plus all the worries about my family have pretty much worn me down.

I look forward to the time when I can return to jogging, blogging and taking pictures of the serenity that surrounds me when I'm home.

Happy last week of August.

Monday, August 7, 2017


Middle Sister

I'm only a month late, but here are more photos from our July 4 
clamming expedition on the East River.


Middle Sister and her fabulously wonderful boyfriend Ronnie did all the hard work of raking for clams while I took on the arduous task of supervising from the comfort of the boat.

If you've never been clamming before--and I hadn't--you pull the rakes through the mud and sand until something bites your ankle you hear something hard hit the rake.

Then you carefully pull the rake up and toss the tasty morsel into this ingenious contraption of a basket that floats courtesy of an inner tube.

Although I forget exactly how many we they caught, there was enough for several dinners.

And they were gooooooooooood.

There are several very serious reasons why I've been negligent in  every aspect of my life my blogging duties.  My mother was hospitalized for a week for a-fib.  They finally sent her home and she's resting until she can get back to see her specialist in a few weeks.  In the interim, a 3-hour surgery for my father ended up being 8 hours when the surgeon nicked his kidney and a vein, causing massive bleeding.  After being hospitalized for a week and then sent to a rehabilitation facility, he had to return to the hospital for a second surgery in the same place due to massive infection.  Right now, my sisters and I are taking turns spending the days and nights with him, because the staff in charge of his care at the hospital can't seem to keep the story straight, there are so many things to monitor.  His hospital is an hour away, so juggling regular duties, work and his caretaking have been a challenge to say the least.

Right now, he's supposed to be in the hospital for several more days before returning to the rehab facility in Gloucester for several weeks.  He's less than happy about this, so in addition to worrying about his physical state, we have to be strong and positive for him.

Hopefully he'll start to get stronger soon, but in the mean time I'll likely be absent from here until some aspect of life returns to quasi-normal.

I hope all is well in your world.


Thursday, July 6, 2017

Mill Lane

This rusty rustic building lives at the end of Mill Lane in Bohannon.

I was able to take its picture on a July 4 boating adventure that included Middle Sister and an afternoon of clamming.  

After clamming, we enjoyed a family gathering that included food, food, food and more food. Followed by food.

Then we watched the wonderful local fireworks display from another boat on Stutts Creek.

A good time was had by all.

Pictures of the clamming adventure will be forthcoming.

Happy July.

Sunday, June 25, 2017


This heron lives

and wades 

and fishes 

on Callis Creek in Redart.  

I caught him recently searching for supper amid the local oyster operation.

All is as busy as--if not busier than--ever in my world.

I hope all is well in yours.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Main Street Makeover

Lots of exciting things are happening in our little downtown area. 

After more than two decades of work, the Mathews Main Street Committee's 
efforts are finally paying off, and we're getting a major makeover face lift.

Work started on the block near my favorite Mexican restaurant, Mi Casa Azteca. 
(I love Mi Casa and try to go there at least once every two weeks.)

There was some impact to traffic--to the extent Mathews has traffic--and some roads have been blocked off and closed, but all businesses have remained open throughout the reconstructive surgery work.

New sidewalks, curbs, gutters and landscaping enhancements are among the improvements being made to our quaint Court House area.

Although there may be some minor inconveniences along the way, I personally can't wait to see the end result.