Saturday, April 30, 2011

In limbo!

 It feels as though I am in limbo these days, waiting for the house to sell, waiting for John's surgery, waiting for my sister's decision about post-op chemo treatments. I am unable to pick up a paint brush, pencil or pen; unable to form a creative written passage; unwilling to prepare gourmet meals.

In an attempt to jolt my creative juices, I decided to browse through my drawing books from our travels.
It was amazing to see how often I captured John with his eyes closed! He is very good at the art of siesta!
The result of viewing these drawings was not what I had hoped would happen. 
After seeing him so relaxed, I decided that I needed a nap. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

45 years ago

This photo was taken 45 years ago when I visited my family in Ottawa for Easter. We are sitting in chronological order with me on the left(aged 21), then sisters Bobbi(14), Dorothy(10) and Tara(5).

I didn't realize during the visit that I was already pregnant with Mitch and that I would return by train to live in Ottawa during the latter part of my pregnancy. The train trip across Canada took three days and nights with a transfer of train cars in Winnipeg. During the trip I befriended a young boy who was travelling alone to Ontario for a summer vacation with his grandparents. I entertained him with drawings and shared meals with him. Last year, while comparing train experiences, I discovered that the boy became my youngest sister's husband. He remembered all the details of what I wore and how we spent time together! The world is indeed a small place! 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Blueberry face

We returned to Salmon Arm last Thursday. The next day Heather, Chris & Augie drove up to spend Easter weekend with us. They were very helpful with garden cleanup and Augie particularly enjoyed discovering brightly coloured easter eggs that contained his favourite fruit, blueberries!! It was a fun weekend!!

All of the garden debris has been taken away and the compost has been spread over the veggie garden. We are ready to plant potatoes, arugula, basil, carrots and beans but temperatures are still falling to zero'll wait until May for most of the planting.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Stage 1A

We finally got the pathology report this morning from my sister's sign of cancer cells in any of the biopsied tissues from her uterus, omentum and para-aortic lymph nodes. She was recorded as having Stage 1A ovarian cancer, the best possible scenario. The next step will be a meeting with the Oncologist on May 4th to decide on possible future chemo treatments.

During the next two weeks, before that meeting, she will focus on regaining strength and a bit of the weight that she has dropped during her post-surgery hospital stay.

We are heading home tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Road trip to White Rock

Two days after bringing Dorothy home from the hospital, we made a road trip to White Rock, checked out the area and shared lunch. She is doing well, eating and moving around with more ease every day.
It was therapeutic to breathe in the fresh sea air and check out the book store.

We remain disenchanted with the Cancer Clinic in Vancouver and more determined than ever to transfer any followup treatments to the Burnaby Cancer Clinic. Any calls that she has made to VCC to change appointments or make post-operative queries have not been answered.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Grilled cheese sandwich

The breakfast tray this morning consisted of instant coffee and a bowl of cream of wheat that smelled fishy!...according to the recipient! So, when I arrived at 9:15am, she still had not eaten anything of substance. Tim Horton's offered up a yogurt and a chocolate milk. My sister Tara arrived with my niece around 10:30am. They brought shampoo and conditioner, determined to assist with a hair washing and shower.

After I left, the Doctor arrived and announced that Dorothy's white blood cell count had improved. She could graduate to solid food...anything she wanted. Her request was for a grilled cheese sandwich, made at home, in the family's 60 year old sandwich griller.

If they do a blood test this afternoon, they could discover prehistoric critters floating around. We are hoping that she will come home tomorrow but her Doctor is being very thorough, not taking any chances or cutting any corners. We appreciate that!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Contagious infection?

My sisters, Tara and Dorothy, in Puerto Vallarta last November

I arrived at the hospital this morning with a coffee for me and a blueberry tea for my sister. During the night, the nurse had reconnected the IV, waking her from a deep sleep. When the morning nurse arrived, she was dressed in a hazmat suit and gloved. Apparently I was supposed to be similarly dressed because they didn't have the results back yet from tests to determine why Dorothy has an elevated white blood count! What else can happen?...infection?...contagion?

Her breakfast was a delicious array of lemon jello, cranberry juice and black instant coffee! A new drug was introduced...ramipril...because her blood pressure has been elevated! I wondered why they would give such a powerful drug to someone who hasn't eaten for 1 1/2 weeks! Within a short time she had a huge headache and was feeling light headed....totally predictable!  She will refuse any further doses of the medicine and hope that with increased energy(from real food) and increased activity, her blood pressure will lower naturally.

Still no news on the possibility of a contagious infection!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Is it like removing a bandaid?

The Day Nurse told Dorothy that the Doctor wanted the tube removed. "Is it like removing a bandaid?" my sister asked. I decided to leave the room. Apparently the nurse smiled sweetly and yanked! When I returned to the room, my sister was sipping apple juice, her first real nourishment in nine days. It looked like there were 10 metres of tubing in the trash can.

"Today is only clear liquids, tomorrow will be thick liquids and the next day we will introduce solids" the nurse explained. With her body finally cooperating, my sister relaxed, releasing the accumulated tension from this past week. With luck, she should be home sometime this weekend.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Fingers crossed

The Doctor disconnected the suction tube this morning. She didn't remove it, in case it needs to be reconnected later. Today will be the test. It is now up to my sister's internal organs to do their job. If they behave, she could have a taste of something other than ice chips tomorrow. I have my fingers crossed!

Meanwhile, back at home, I have a large black cat and an aged dog sleeping with me each night. They can't figure out where my sister is and find it difficult to settle in their usual places beside her bed.

Monday, April 11, 2011


We brought her home from the Vancouver Hospital yesterday. No one seemed concerned that she hadn't had anything to eat or drink for 5 days, just a few sips of water in between bouts of nausea and barfing. At home the nausea continued despite doses of gravol taken orally and by suppository. Every half hour she needed to throw up.

This morning I called the surgeon's office and had my call returned by someone at Vancouver Hospital. She suggested that I take my sister to Emergency to be rehydrated. It didn't have to be Vancouver Hospital Emergency, it could be Burnaby General, so that's where we went.

Her last meal was a grilled cheese sandwich on the night of April 5th. Today is April 11th.

At Burnaby General Hospital they examined her distended belly, ran a saline IV as well as a powerful anti-nausea drug and decided to place a tube down her nose to suction some of the fluid off her belly. Within a few minutes, to the amazement of the attending physician, they had suctioned 2 litres of bilious fluid. He was very upset that she had been released without ensuring that her bodily functions were in order.

She will be in the hospital for a few days. Tomorrow they will do a CT scan to ensure that there is not a bowel obstruction or abcess. The surgeon explained that it is probably just an ILEUS, the bowel being lazy after surgical intrusion to the abdomen.

When I left tonight, colour had returned to her cheeks and she was craving a McDonald's ice cream cone. These are both good signs but the ice cream will have to wait for a few more days.

Friday, April 8, 2011


Recovery is a struggle for my sister. I'll travel by bus to Vancouver tomorrow, visit her in the hospital and take her some licorice allsorts, a sudoku puzzle book and a good cup of coffee. Still not sure how long she will stay in the hospital before returning home or how long I will stay with her.

The following is an excerpt from Eve Ensler, author of the Vagina Monologues, following her surgery for ovarian cancer:

I have a scar
A warrior track that runs down
My 57-year-old body
Each time I look at it I am reminded that I was opened up 
in order to remove the darkness
I was laid bare in order to be free of the pain
I surrendered in order to find my power 
Each time I see my scar
I am reminded that I was lucky
That I had insurance
That I could afford the most extraordinary and loving surgeons and doctors
That I was surrounded by an embarrassment of love and friends and family who bought me soup and presents
And rubbed my feet and made me eggs at 6 in the morning 
when I was ready to throw up
I am reminded that I mattered 
And because of that I recovered
I know that every single person deserves this attention
Every single person
And so my scar has become a permanent tattoo 
Calling for inclusion and joy.