An Early Day

Today was a Herceptin only day so I finished fairly early and had time to walk to Ginza and back before my early afternoon CT scan. On the main street, it is much closer than I thought from my previous foray via round-about back streets.


Nice Nap / Neighbor in Distress

The pre-Taxol antihistamine really hit me hard today so I took a nice long nap after I got home and L complained about my loud snoring. I woke up very refreshed and started getting batter and vegetables ready for tonight's OKONOMIYAKI.

Around 5:30 the little older lady from the third floor came up with a cane today, a first for her. She'd fallen down on Sunday and can't go shopping but is extremely reluctant to call for the government provided care services which she is eligible for or to go see a doctor. She asked if I'd be shopping tomorrow and if I could pick up a few things for her, giving me some money. I've decided to keep a record of the money as she tends to hand out more than necessary and I now she'll run out of cash before her next pension payment arrives in December at this rate. She stayed, talking while the kids and I cooked our dinner at the table, declining any because she had already eaten, but carefully watching how we cooked it all at the table. She'd never seen an electric griddle (hot plate) before and was very curious. After I finished cleaning up, I escorted her downstairs with some rice, tangerines, crunchy KARINTO sweet snacks and moleskin type medicated pads to put on her injury.

Next time I'm at city hall, I'm thinking of asking at the advisory desk about available assistance for solo geriatric citizens who really need assistance but are so reluctant that they would rather sit at home and drink tea for three days in a row before asking anyone for help shopping for food. It seems a little "Big Brotherish" but I've seen posters encouraging neighbors to feel free to consult. I know that ultimately it will be up to my neighbor to accept the assistance and I hope that the city hall personel will be professional and well equipped to convince her that she shouldn't feel shy about accepting the subsidized assistance she is eligible to receive and is actually already paying for with her health insurance payments.


A Variety of Events

M was up and out early with a lunch of two types of onigiri (rice balls); salmon and wakame seaweed and pickled plum and dried perilla. I sent her off with some other moms of athletes on her team for the second day of the big metropolitan jr. high track meet. Then I came home to make a sushi salad lunch for J to take to school open house observation day at school(M was exempted from school but her team mates who didn't qualify for the track meet had to go to school). She managed to drag herself out of bed and off to school grumbling a little about not being able to go to the neighborhood field day with S, N and L. I then packed appropriate lunches for the field day group; a dish called KATSU, which is a homonym for the verb "to win" (small pieces of pork breaded and deep fried), slices of spinach omelet, simmered sweet potatoes, more onigiri rice balls in several flavors, apple slices and barley tea. That got wrapped in a large square cloth and put into a bag with the plastic picnic sheet and cameras.

L and N woke up soon after the bag was packed and we all got ready to go. I took the picnic lunch to school with S, N and L to watch the first few events before heading off to the jr. high school for the "First International Communication Event" for the 7th graders. While I was setting up our picnic sheet, the head of the management committee from our building came over to say hello and give me some tickets for free games at a nearby neighborhood festival. He'd gone out of his way to get four tickets so the kids could all play at least one game. I gave them to N and explained that she and L could go after the field event, warning her not to dawdle as the festival would be over at 4 o'clock.

I left the field day fairly early, politely declining to join the tug o'war team for my corner of the school district in favor of meeting my Bulgarian friend for an early light lunch. We then headed of to J's and M's school to help set up. Our British friend soon joined us and the fun began.

The kids made and ate lots of minestrone soup and then heard the trio of foreign women with Japanese names talk about school in our countries. The 7th graders did a great job and my friends and I managed to talk long enough but not too long, coming away leaving a pretty good impression, according to some of M's friends who reported to her about the afternoon when she stopped by school on her way home from the track meet this evening.

L and N picked up a friend, one of our students, at the festival and he was entertaining them and enjoying the cat when I arrived home around a little after 4 o'clock. S was off giving a make-up class for one the students missed yesterday due to a standardized test eating in to the usual schedule.

It looks like we'll all call it an early night and go to bed soon after such a busy day.



Here she is. The name "Koro" is equivalent to "Spot" as N excitedly referred to the yet unnamed addition to the household as "the dog" when she thought it was her turn to hold it and pet it last week. She kept shouting "Who has the dog? I want the dog!"

Things have calmed down considerably and Koro seems happy to have people around 24/7, gladly curling up on the closest available lap. S was a little gruff about how much responsibility a pet will be and how we shouldn't have one, but he has been caught coo-cooing and playing with the kitten on several occasions and has inquired about the kitty food supply a few times, so Koro is here to stay.


Yesterday's Herceptin/Taxol infusions went well. It looked like rain so I decided to get my walking in for the day done by strolling through the Ginza, Tokyo's fashionable shopping area. It is about a 10 minute walk from the National Cancer Center and a universe away in atmosphere. The Cancer Center neighborhood has lots of guys in rubber boots and aprons hawking all sorts of seafood, vegetables, restaurant supply stuff etc. and stands selling cheap bowls of noodles, curry or raw fish on rice in fire hazard narrow alleys. Certain shops had lines of disheveled morning shoppers waiting for famously cheap and good treats for post shopping snacks or early lunch. The Ginza area has the Hermes, Fendi, Salvatore Ferragamo, Bulgari, Cartier, Chanel crowd tapping down the avenues in heels that would cover a few treatments at the Cancer Center. There was a long line of aromatic, well dressed ladies in front of a coffee shop selling Belgian chocolates. Fortunately the pre-Taxol part of my IV has anti-nausea meds so the perfume wasn't too overwhelming.



J rescued a kitten from the middle of the street today. She put it on the side of the street and tried to walk home but it squeaked and mewled miserably and followed her so she picked it up and asked around the neighborhood to see if anyone might be missing a kitten. Nobody knew of any recent litters of kittens and she ended up bringing it (her)home. She really wants to keep the kitten but our building has a "no pets" rule that can be broken for goldfish and other critters which can live quietly in small aquariums but not for puppies and kittens.

I found a comfy cardboard box to keep drafts out, trimmed the kitten's long and sharp front claws and fed it a little well mashed cat food and evaporated milk diluted with warm water and the mewling doesn't seem so pathetic now. When S gets home, J will attempt to convince him to allow the rules to be broken for a while and she'll try to find a home for the little thing. It looks like it's about a month old.


Lots and Lots of Tuna

The bloodwork room at the hospital was a little busy today after a three day weekend so my results weren't ready until a little after nine this morning. When they were available, I had my pre-treatment exam with Dr. F. and things look fine. I noticed a little pain over my lower ribs on my left side so we decided to move this year's bone scan up a month and I'll go back to Tsukiji on Friday morning for an injection of isotopes, wander around the fish market for an hour or two, go back and take a nap in the cramped machine where my radioactive bones slowly project their images up and out of me.

I finished my Herceptin/Taxol treatment at about 1:00 p.m. so I went to buy some sushi style egg omelets to use in J's and M's lunches tomorrow. I wore my Meg Ryan (more like Tryin'!!) wig and a cute guy at one of the tuna specialty shops called out his wares to me, addressing me as a young woman (ojousan). He must be partial to blonds; he gave me a 50% discount on a huge pile of very fresh tuna. (It was almost closing time, so that may have factored in...)

J was off at a friend's house when I got home, studying for the rest of her mid-terms tomorrow. She called at about 6:30 to ask how much longer she could stay. When I told about tonights menu, sushi rice topped with nori flakes, tuna, chunks of the omelet block, sesame seeds, soy sauce, chopped green onions and wasabi, she decided that she'd studied enouh and would come right home. I told her to invite her friend and they both rushed right over with a 5 kg bag of rice as a house gift from the girl's very generous mom. This is the mom who invited all four of our children to spend a few nights with them when I was in the hospital three years ago.

I had the kids assemble their own "maguro don" tuna rice bowls and all were pleased with the very fresh fish and the sheer quantity. Usually I have to creatively spread the tuna to hide the rice but thanks to the cutie at the market, today was a real treat for all. I sent some fresh sushi omelet (I bought two types, one plain, one with chicken and vegetables mixed in) home with J's friend in appreciation of the rice.

I wonder what style of hair the men at the big vegetable and fruit stand like...


What's Missing From This Picture?

I figured that my parents haven't seen this much of my head in about 42 years so I thought I'd go ahead and post a photo of my coiffure or lack thereof. I don't have many eyelashes left and I need a little practice drawing eyebrows...I'm down to the final 8 Taxol treatments and should finish in early December so I'll have more hair by Christmas.


I'm so full!

Our nephew and his son and daughter picked up his parents, sister and niece at Haneda in a rental car and drove them over here early this afternoon for a late lunch. The kids were excited about the visit because they had such a good time last year when we all went to a hot spring/spa in downtown Tokyo for a day the last time they were in Tokyo. I chose simple make at the table type food so I could sit down and enjoy the visit. The make-it-yourself sushi rolls and cook at the table takoyaki went over well. We topped the meal off with a plate full of persimmons, Asian pears and big purple seedless grapes around 5:00 p.m. and nobody was particularly hungry for dinner. A few slices of apple were all that some could manage.

N, however, in her usual bottomless pit style, is munching away at a unique roll of sushi she's made with leftover salmon, salmon roe, tuna, squid, cucumber, edamame (boiled green soy beans), chrysanthemum petals, wasabi, soy sauce and sushi rice in nori. She even took pictures with my cell phone as she created so she could have her sushi and eat it too. She inadvertantly achieved a dreamlike quality to her photos by rubbing her slightly greasy fingertips over the camera lens (now the phone smells like day old fish). I love it that she absolutely has to try everything, but hope that she doesn't want to share her sushi with me just now. I'm avoiding making eye contact with her by posting on the blog.

J and M were very glad to spend time with our grand-niece R from Kyushu. They've met her a few times when we visited Kyushu and when SIL and she and came to stay for a few days a few years ago. She's in the same grade as M, but is almost a year older. She and her mom brought pretty blue topaz necklaces for me and the girls as gifts.

S seemed to enjoy the meal with his brother. It was great to relax with everyone here at home instead of going out somewhere and worrying about keeping all the kids entertained and under control. Out nephew's son and L are the same age and his daughter turned 6 yesterday. N had fun playing older sister and even took all the "younger" kids to the park for a while.

Our niece (R's mom) and SIL were very helpful and all the dishes were washed and the kitchen was sparkling before they all drove off to our nephew's place to spend the night. I enjoyed the time we spent together as they are very pleasant and encouraging people.


Still Tickin'

Every three months I get a heart ultrasound exam to make sure that the Herceptin isn't damaging that important organ. The doctor who did today's exam confirmed that my ticker is as strong as ever and that staying on the drug is no problem at this point. I'd stopped by the chemo room to put in my order for today's treatment before heading upstairs to the ultrasound room and they were ready for me as soon as my exam was over. I finished before 11 and was home for lunch.



M was in the city track meet yesterday. She jumped and ran in three events and came home with two gold medals and a bronze medal. Not bad.