Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Welcome to our Rollercoaster

We are on a roller coaster. We hope you don't mind a bumpy ride, because that's definitely the kind of ride we are on. Roger's pathology report showed that the cancer was found in four of twenty lymph nodes. There is a PET scan in our future, a meeting with an oncologist, and chemotherapy. The health care detour continues. We will keep you posted.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Day After Sugery

He looks GREAT, doesn't he? The day after a 3 3/4 hour colon cancer surgery, he was up and walking around outside.

He loved the warmth of the sun. All of your good wishes made it here straight to his heart, and you can see it on that very beautiful face. Post-surgical pathology report due tomorrow afternoon. Here's hoping for the very best news.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Resting, Almost Comfortably

Roger came out of surgery at about 11:15. The surgeon gave us a positive report, but said that he would know more after the lab results on Wednesday. Roger was moved to a hospital room where he has a morphine drip that he can control to manage his pain. He was in good spirits and managed to crack a few jokes through the haze. He's drifting.

We can't thank you enough for your support. It means so much to us.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

All Together Now

Roger's surgery is scheduled for Monday morning 7:30 am PDST. If you want to know what time that is in your part of the world, please Check here. He's going to spend at least three hours on the operating table. Then some time in the narcotic haze of morphine while he recovers. Post-operative hospital stay is expected to be between 6-8 days. What we would like to ask of you, our incredibly loving and supportive virtual family here, is to send him your very best wishes and healing vibes while he's in surgery and after. We don't think there's any way to alter outcomes, but we do think you can raise his endorphins with love. So, let's do that.

We are grateful for all that you do. We'll keep you posted.

All together now!

Monday, June 21, 2010

squirrel baffle

update at the top

surgery monday at 7:30 am. no 2nd path report yet, but it's all gotta come out anyway. BIG scar.

post and feeders in new location with slopier metal baffle and plastic bottle insurance.

all of you who have bird feeders know about squirrels. they are industrious and persistent about getting to a bird feeder. when we saw a squirrel in the tray feeder we knew that my homemade baffle had been defeated. we assumed that the little fellow had jumped from a nearby rock to the top of the baffle. what to do but move the post holding the feeders. i put that post in place. i didn't use concrete but i did put it in a 2 foot hole, dug in very rocky hard clay, and pack rocks around it and pound them tightly in place. not easy to undo, but i am good with leverage and managed to unearth it. so. dig another difficult post hole and reinstall the post and attach the feeders.

within 2 or 3 hours there was the squirrel in the platform feeder under the little roof. we chased it away and then watched. the little monster climbed the post as far as the metal baffle, no surprise, and then reached out enough to grab the edge of the baffle and scrambled up over it to payseed. so i adjusted the baffle to have more of a slope. while we were watching to see the jerk's next attempt robin was researching squirrel baffles online and found a suggestion to use plastic pop bottles, in our case seltzer, to wrap the post, denying the big-tailed rat any purchase. we chuckled as we watched the dastardly seed thief attempt to climb the pole and slide right off and down. the plastic bottle material is flexible enough to wrap around the post and hard enough to frustrate the wily rodent's claws.

so far no squirrel in the feeder.

plastic bottles recycled into a squirrel foil. check the reflection.

in other news: i still have colon cancer. the 5 cm mass in my sigmoid colon is definitely malignant. the "unusual appearing but exophytic lesion, about 3 cm in the proximal transverse" was reported as non-malignant, but the colonoscopy doc wanted a second biopsy report. both things have to come out, but maybe not at the same time. so we wait.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Normal and Not-So Normal Life

I keep thinking I should write something profound, eloquent and poetic about these past few days. Or maybe it should be a blistering rant about the unfairness of everything. But I can't seem to find the right rhythm. We're staring our philosophies in the face. Roger says, "Well if it's metastasized, I'm toast." Yes, that's the horrible truth. We've read the survival statistics for that scenario and they are absolutely grim. We won't know for a while yet what the status is on that large mass because the gastroenterologist and the surgeon are concentrating on determining how to treat the smaller lesion. Even though it may or may not be cancerous (the biopsy on that one has been sent to another lab for a second opinion), it still needs to be removed. If it's not malignant can it be taken out piecemeal during additional colonoscopies? Should it be removed surgically? These are the questions.

The surgeon is a wonderful, avuncular older man. If he wasn't a surgeon he'd make a very good soft-spoken pediatrician. Roger said he felt like a child, when this tall man raised the examining table and then gently bent to listen to his heart. The surgeon explained how he would perform the surgery, recommending a full opening rather than the more popular smaller incision for laparoscopy. He told us that patients come in after reading the internet, and ask for laparscopic surgery. He doesn't think that's the best way to go in these situations. We trust his experience on this. Yes, of course, he should open Roger up "larger than his hand" and do the work that needs to be done. Our mantra is: Fix This Now.
On trying to maintain life here in the normal way: Roger moved the bird feeder Thursday afternoon. We've been chasing the squirrels for a few days, after they figured out how to leap from the rocks to just above the squirrel-proof baffle. Hah, it is truly baffling how they figure that stuff out with their little rodent brains. The little blind and lame squirrel (pictured above) stopped showing up two days ago. He hadn't been looking very well lately. My twin brother said I should call Wildlife Rehabilitation and Release to pick the little fellow up. I said, "No I don't think so. Why deprive some coyote its natural meal?" Poor little thing. He was limping all the time, a real wreck of a creature. I often put out secret little stashes for him, hoping to cure him with extra food. Sometimes he even found them, and I would clap and sing.
The plan for now: The next appointment with the surgeon is Tuesday. Supposedly the pathology report will be back from the lab at the University of Washington. Then there really will be a plan on how to restore Roger back to his good health.

Stupid colon. Stupid cancer. Stupid labs. Stupid squirrel.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


bad news/good news. i have colon cancer/ most likely correctable by surgery. i share my health challenges here with you. remember high blood pressure and broken toe? my rectal abscess? look sharp young'uns, this could be your future. at least i have medicare, for now. and social security, for now. damn you obama and your cost cutting/deficit reduction commission. and fuck you pete peterson.

details: a 5 cm mass at the junction of the sigmoid colon and rectum and a questionable polyp in the transverse colon. the mass is operable and could fix everything. the other thing, the funny polyp, isn't necessarily bad in cancer terms but does require a much more involved surgery. my blood work is all great. the gastroenterologist (colonoscopy doc) says he would kill for my cholesterol levels. so physically i am good. i was splitting firewood today with a maul. this cancer thing seems harder on robin than it is in me and i understand. were our positions reversed i would be frantic.

in other news summer is here, at last. we have beaucoup carrots and beets coming up. cabbage forming. broccoli flowering. chard and kale leafing out. strawberries ripening. basil growing. i eat this stuff. did i start too late? there are a myriad of beautiful dragonflies around the pond.


update.......more info....... good!!! only one positive biopsy for cancer. we will know more thursday late afternoon. seems like the *simpler* surgery might do.

planted basil, zuchinni, and butternut squash starts.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Out and About

Lots going on, all of it family and health related. Good thing it's a Wordless Wednesday, or I'd have to bore you with all the gory details. Hah!

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Our Weekend at Three Graces Farm

We spent the weekend at Three Graces Farm in Sonoma County, in the middle of wine country, although the farm is most definitely not a vineyard. Why were we there? To spend time with Indigo and Elena, Roger's daughters (and incredibly lucky me, my step-daughters). I highly recommend checking out their website because these three women (the kids and a friend) are doing the serious work of starting a farm from scratch.
I mean scratch: an outdoor kitchen; no electricity; no potable water (a well that can be used for dishes, watering the garden, etc); a newly drilled well, but not yet pumping; no internet.

It was absolutely grand being there. We slept in a yurt that had a view of the starry sky. We used the composting toilet and the shower that drained into a gray water system. It was primitive and futuristic at the same time. Now that's a trick of our era, isn't it?
Indigo had friends visiting from the city who had come to build her an outhouse. They spent much of Saturday in that endeavor, and as the sun was going down it was loaded onto the old pickup truck and hauled almost to its destination. Some more digging of the hole was in order before it could be planted.
Elena showed us around the farm and introduced us to the pigs and goats. They have plans for raising heritage pigs and for producing dairy products from the goats' milk. They have an already-productive garden and space to grow a ton more. I should have photographed the huge pile of kale I cut for Saturday night's feast, but instead I've got a pic of the puffball that Roger found on the way to the creek Sunday morning. This puffball was featured in our breakfast feast a short while later.
Three Graces Farm is extremely hard, endless work. But you can't imagine what it's like to eat a gourmet Indian meal that has been cooked in this beautiful outdoor kitchen. Or to sit with young people who understand what they are doing and why.

Mostly Roger and I don't have much hope for the future, but when we spend time like this with young people who have this profound and deep understanding of the earth, we actually begin to feel a small hope stirring.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Pictures From The Pond

Now that the temperatures have finally moved into somewhat normal range, we're starting to see more insects out and about (and luckily not close to the poison-zone around the house). This makes us very happy. Most of the action takes place down by the pond. So, we moved a picnic bench down there and just sit and watch.
We're seeing a lot of dragonflies. This one skims the top of the pond for food. A rather handsome fellow, a Common Whitetail.
We're also seeing damselflies flying around or hanging about together while otherwise engaged.
The thing that caught my eye though, and made me look at bugguide for hours was this beautiful orange moth. Still no ID on this one, but what a strikingly brilliant orange moth it is. I wish it would have unfolded its wings, but it sat quite still for a long time just like this.

The field around the pond is full of tall grasses that we are letting go to seed. The variety is quite surprising and I can see that we're going to spend time learning how to ID them as well. Don't be surprised if you see photos of grasses soon. It's the kind of thing that thrills us now!

I've posted most of these photos already on Facebook, but I like having them here on the blog for the recorded history of our new home, and for our friends who are not on Facebook to take a look.